Windows Restaurant

Legacy Lodge at Lake Lanier Islands Resort, 7000 Holiday Road, Buford, 770-945-8787

The Friday and Saturday night spread at Lake Lanier Island Resort's Windows Restaurant boasts an enormous array of shrimp, crab and fish dishes in a Disney-lite atmosphere. Pile the plate with a sample of each dish (and return for seconds and thirds), or focus on a couple of your favorites, and you'll likely be happy. That's not to say the buffet, priced at $37.95 for adults, succeeds at everything. But there's enough to choose from to satisfy most diners looking to stuff themselves with seafood.

BAKED, STEAMED AND FRIED

The dishes showcase the variety of ways to prepare seafood. Most of the menu items stay the same throughout the summer, although some fish selections may change, depending on availability. Snow crab legs steamed with Old Bay Seasoning were plump and sweet, and we also went back for seconds of the tilapia topped with crab. The large shrimp used in the garlicky scampi dish go well with linguine tossed in a white wine butter sauce by a member of the wait staff manning the nearby pasta station. The almond-crusted trout maintained its crispiness. The peel and eat shrimp were more satisfying than the fried shrimp, which goes overboard on the breading. Crab meat fills the crab cakes, but you'll be disappointed if you are used to those made with lump crab. Our grilled Mahi Mahi was a bit too dry, and our piece of salmon was overloaded with the creamy dill sauce. The items are prepared in the same kitchen used for conventions and events, and as a result, some of the dishes taste like those you would find at a large banquet.

EXTRAS AND ACCOMPANIMENTS

The carved prime rib, which is freshly cut at a carving station, is juicy and tender. Vegetables, such as fingerling potatoes, rice pilaf and sautéed squash and zucchini, are OK, but quickly pushed aside for more seafood. There's also a small salad bar. A bread basket brought to the table includes warm cheese biscuits, but inedible hush puppies. There's a separate area with cakes and pies, including a tangy Key lime, as well as peach cobbler and Edy's vanilla ice cream. Like the entrees, the desserts are elegantly displayed, except for the brown tub of ice cream, which begins to melt and get messy throughout the dinner.

FAMILY SETTING

Our early seating (reservations are recommended) had us arriving right as a giddy guitarist began to play songs from past decades. Everything from John Denver tunes to "Puff, the Magic Dragon" to a version of "If You're Happy and You Know It" for the kids, are played throughout dinner. A roaming magician appeared at our table before we could finish our first plates, making the restaurant feel like a touristy place you'd find on vacation in Orlando. Even with the drought, we were disappointed that the restaurant doesn't offer unobstructed waterfront views; the only water we saw was the pool. We were pleasantly surprised by the service, with our personable waiter quickly collecting plates, refilling glasses and sensing other needs such as a utensil for the crab legs.



Hours: 6-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (through October)
Dress: Resort casual
Reservations: Recommended
Parking: On-site and valet
Price: $37.95 ages 13 and up; $19.95 ages 6-12; free under 6
Recommended dishes: crab legs, crab-topped tilapia, shrimp scampi, Key lime pie
Web site: www.lakelanierislands.com
Verdict: A bountiful buffet in a family-friendly setting.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.