The couple that eats together stays together

Andy and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary on November 11. According to the list of traditional anniversary gifts, year five is supposed to be something made of wood; the more modern list says silverware. We’re not really into owning things as much as we are eating them, so we put our bellies together and came up with a sensational idea: dinner at the Nordic Lodge, a magical high-end, all-you-can-eat buffet. Not only could we celebrate all of the weight we’ve both gained over the last five years of marriage, but we’d still be totally following the gifting guidelines — both traditional and modern — by eating within the Nordic Lodge’s wood-paneled walls and using their silverware to shovel in all the goodies.

The Nordic Lodge is legendary. The Travel Channel named it one of the country’s Top 10 buffets, and the Huffington Post called it one of the best in the world. I had heard tales of the unlimited lobster, filet mignon, and desserts, but never had the opportunity to experience it myself up until a few days ago. It was worth the wait.

Initial observations and tips:

The Nordic Lodge is in the middle of nowhere. As we traveled deeper into the woods on a dark, winding road, Andy wondered aloud if the Nordic Lodge may actually be a trap run by crazy people who harvest human organs. Thankfully, he was wrong.

The buffet itself is high-end, but that does not mean that a) you’re going to be dining with classy people and b) you should dress up. If you’ve ever been on a Carnival Cruise ship, you’re going to encounter an eerily similar atmosphere at the Nordic Lodge. Wear your stretchy pants and get ready to eat alongside those people on Facebook who share memes like this:

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They have a salad bar and lots of fruit, but don’t waste valuable stomach space eating that crap. You can go back to being healthy tomorrow.

Don’t go if you don’t like dead animals. They have real dead animals on the wall, along with when they were killed and who did the deed. I started to get sad for the animals while I waited to enter the dining room and thought about how crappy it would be to get shot and then hung on a wall for all eternity to oversee the worst of human society eat themselves to death. But then I got seated, mutilated the bodies of two lobsters, ate a dead cow, and completely forgot about my friends on the wall. Hey, at least I didn’t eat them too.

Currently, it costs $93 to eat at the Nordic Lodge (I think it’s going up to $96 for 2017, though). I don’t know about you, but I don’t have $93 just laying around waiting to be spent on one of my fat fantasies. I had to wait for a special occasion to justify it. Looking around the restaurant, though, you could tell there were a lot of people that enjoy coming regularly. Do they keep a special savings account for trips to the Nordic Lodge? Do they opt to skip paying rent some months so they can get their eat on? I don’t get it.

How much food we were able to cram in our faces:

I took photos of each and every plate of food we got for a couple of reasons. First, to show you. Second, because I had a feeling the entire evening would become one binge-eating blur and I’d completely forget everything we ate. My placemat was a map of the buffet, which was very helpful in assisting us with our plan of attack. Keep in mind, this map doesn’t even list every single thing in the buffet — just the more popular items:

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Round 1

Aww, look at my special little guy tying on his lobster bib. My plate has a lobster, melted butter for the lobster, lobster mac and cheese, and three shrimp with cocktail sauce. I think Andy has a similar spread, minus the mac and cheese, plus a bunch of crab legs.

Round Two 

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I was super excited for the filet mignon, but they gave me a tiny piece. I knew it was probably for the best, but I was still jealous Andy got way more. Also pictured: more shrimp + cocktail sauce, a baked stuffed shrimp, fried shrimp (I feel like Bubba from Forrest Gump right now), fried scallops, a scallop wrapped in bacon, and a stuffed mushroom. I don’t know what the hell is happening on Andy’s plate because I blacked out when I saw he actually got fruit.

Round Three

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A little lobster bisque break to cleanse the palette. That’s what it’s for, right?

Round Four

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I felt myself getting full and I knew I’d be so upset if I didn’t save room for dessert. I grabbed a slice of cheesecake with strawberries and whipped cream, a lemon bar, mini cannoli, and a chocolate-covered cherry. Andy hit up the Haagen-Daas ice cream bar where they made him a strawberry milkshake.

This is the round where I started to have those burps where you can’t even get the air out because there’s too much food piled up inside.

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Here I am, reflecting on my poor life choices. Meanwhile, the lady over my right shoulder questions why she cut her bangs so short.

Round Five 

I did not participate in the fifth round, but Andy really went for it. He got more steak and other meaty things I cannot identify. And look! His steak is shaped like a heart! That was the Universe wishing us a happy anniversary and many more years of obesity to come.

While Andy ate, I concentrated on not accidentally letting out the fart that I had on deck. Andy tried to encouraged me to let it go, but I didn’t want any of my fellow patrons to end up on the wall with all of those dead animals. I also wondered why the Nordic Lodge didn’t smell like farts at all — you’d think a restaurant of the all-you-can-eat variety would be a prime location for crop dusting. Maybe they put in a special system that filters out all of the bad air.

Round Six 

During round five, I began to reflect on all of the tales I’d heard from people about how many lobsters they had eaten at the Nordic Lodge. My stepson’s uncle allegedly ate nine lobsters — heck, my 5-foot-nothing, 100lb wedding photographer even told us she ate six lobsters once. I felt humiliated with my one lobster, so I rallied, went back to the buffet, and got one more. It was covered in weird white stuff, but it was still cute and I ate the whole thing. Meanwhile, Andy devoured a second strawberry Haagen-Daas milkshake.

His favorite part of the evening, though? At the very end, when the waitress brought us warm, giant wet naps. Wet naps make life worth living for Andy and I’m pretty sure he would have dropped $93 just for a bunch of huge moist towelettes.

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The walk to the car felt like an eternity because our legs were incapable of carrying the extra 20lbs we had suddenly put on inside the Nordic Lodge. I also had the distinct pleasure of driving the hour home while Andy reclined in the passenger seat, drinking out of the bottle of Pepto-Bismol that we brought along for the ride.

As I looked over at him, curled up like a fat little hedgehog with pink goop dripping from his lips, all I could think was “soulmate.”

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