7511 Airfield Drive
Richmond, VA 23237
Richmond, VA 23237
Friday and Saturday 5pm-9pm
I had great reservations in reviewing King’s Korner; not because it’s bad, it’s actually delicious, but because I did not want to share this hidden gem with the masses. But then I thought to myself that it would not be fair to King’s Korner, the public, and especially not fair to my readers who look to me for honest reviews of the best restaurants in the Tri-City area. I was not the only one who did not want this restaurant to be uncovered to the world; there was a supernatural force at work that causes this review to be lost twice while I was writing it. But I persevered and continued to rewrite and redo this review so that everyone who reads the Gastrological Gentleman will know the joys of King’s Korner Buffet.
I was not planning on going out to eat last Friday, but I was out of the office attending a 9/11 memorial event and had $7.00 in my pocket, so I could not resist stopping by King’s Korner for their $5.95 country style buffet. Forget what fast food restaurants say, King’s Korner’s Buffet is the true value meal. I would not be surprised if you’ve never seen or heard of King’s Korner. It is completely hidden in plain sight just off Iron Bridge Road at the Chesterfield Airport. When I say at the Chesterfield Airport, I don’t mean near the airport or next to the airport, I mean AT the Chesterfield Airport. It is located in the same building as the airport, right on the runway. You could probably go inside the Chesterfield Airport terminal and still not notice King’s Korner. In this lies its charm and mystique. Although the interior decoration is dated and its wood paneling and 70’s décor makes it feel like an American Legion or Moose Lodge; dining at King’s Korner, you feel like you’re a member of an exclusive club; a club of buffet and value connoisseurs, who secretly meet every afternoon to enjoy the culinary delight known as King’s Korner.
As I pull up to King’s Korner, I see a plane take off from behind the restaurant. That awesome site set the course for the rest of my lunch. I walk into the Chesterfield Airport Terminal and take a left into King’s Korner; if I hadn’t looked to my left I probably wouldn’t have even noticed it. Seating myself, I took a table at the huge glass window looking out on the airport runway. Although I’ve heard rumors that there is a menu, the waiter did not have to ask what I wanted all he did was ask what drink I would like and told me to help myself. The buffet is a single bar with a light curve, covered in all sorts of down home, homemade cooking. There are always 2 types of barbecue on the buffet but the other main courses change on a daily basis. It ranges from Mexican and Italian to fried chicken and Salisbury steak with seafood every Friday.
The buffet lines starts off with a rather lackluster salad bar. But if you’re worried about the salad bar at an all-you-can-eat country buffet it would be best to save your time and stop reading now. While the traditional salad selection was wanting; other items on the salad bar were quite tasty. The potato and pasta salads were fresh and extremely flavorful. Just beyond the salad bar lay a plethora of country style vegetables with some being more delicious than others. On the low end of the spectrum was an expertly cooked but bland vegetable medley of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots and run of the mill mashed potatoes and black eyed peas. The highlights were baked beans and bacon, sweet stewed tomatoes and collard greens. The best side item on the buffet had to be the potato wedges; which were perfectly fried with a crispy outside with a moist and creamy inside. The wedges were an excellent accompaniment to the barbecue, which I will go into detail about soon.
The first main dish on the buffet was a heaping platter of chicken pot pie. I had to tunnel through an inch and a half of breading before I reached the measly amount of chicken and vegetables hidden at the bottom of the pot pie. It would have been tasty if it wasn’t overwhelmed by the breading on top. Because it was Friday, fried fish and clam strips were the seafood items of the day. The fish, as usual, was succulent with a very light breading that allowed me to really taste the flavor and feel the texture of the fish. The clam strips were completely opposite of the fish in every possible way. Most of the problems with the clam strips are inherent with fried clams. There is just not enough clam to make a good ratio between clam and breading. Eating them seemed like I was eating nothing but crispy pieces of fried batter. Luckily, clam strips are not on the buffet every Friday, plump delectable fried shrimp often accompany the fish on the buffet. The next dish is why the people who know about King’s Korner continue to come back, the pulled pork barbecue. They serve two types of barbecue, one with a sweet tomato based sauce and one without any sauce. In both the meat is the star, cooked perfectly and melts in your mouth. Unlike many other restaurants that lather inferiorly cooked pulled pork with gallons of sauce; King’s Korner’s barbecue with sauce is prepared with optimum meat to sauce ratio; enough sauce to taste but not so much as to overpower the smoky flavor of the meat. King’s Korner provides 3 visible BBQ sauces to appease the differing barbecue tastes in the area. One is a smoky, sweet Texas style tomato based sauce that I prefer out of the 3. There is also a spicier Virginia style sauce that is a hybrid of tomato based and vinegar based sauces as well as a tradition North Carolina vinegar based sauce. You are probably asking why I said 3 “visible” BBQ sauces; this is because there is a fourth secret sauce and that only those who know to ask get to enjoy. It is King’s Korner’s original rib dip sauce; a sweet and savory concoction that mere words cannot describe. If I possessed the literary abilities of Emerson or Whitman, I might try to describe this delectable sauce. Since I am nowhere near the wordsmith that these gentlemen were; anything I say could do it justice I will just say that it is AWESOME.
Although most things on the buffet are delicious and you will be tempted to keep going back for more please, if you take any advice from me, save room for desert. Not just a small taste of desert but t least a whole bowl full. Normally, with I buffet I would never give this recommendation because most of the time the deserts on a buffet are quite unimpressive but this is not the case with King’s Korner. I would even go as far as to say that I would pay the $5.95 to just have this one extraordinary desert item. The dish I am speaking about is the bread pudding. This is no regular bread pudding, no left over stale bread mixed with sugar and butter and icing. It is expertly crafted and usually empty on the bar because it goes so fast. This bread pudding is extremely moist but by no means soggy, covered in the perfect amount of butter and light icing. The crowning jewels of this dish are the plump raisins hidden throughout. These are not the dry wrinkly ones most people are familiar with, these are plump and juicy and when you are lucky enough they burst in your mouth to add the perfect finishing flavor on this immaculate bread pudding.
King’s Korner’s Buffet is really a true value meal. It is the best lunch for the best price a person could possibly purchase. Though, the whole buffet is simply delicious the barbecue and bread pudding are the shining stars. Once you can get past the tacky, dated décor I promise you will have a amazing lunch for a great price. I recommend King’s Korner to anyone who loves fresh down home cooking. I will certainly be returning soon.