Didn’t have room for this the last few issues but thought that Ouje-Bougoumou’s Lodge deserved it’s good name back. Normally Neil would have first crack at this type of column, but due to the fact that he has only recently been allowed back in O.J. without having to constantly guard his back after his last restaurant review in that locale, the job fell to yours truly.

On menu for that night was an all you-can-eat Native traditional foods buffet for $15. Alan Bush, who explained to me that the lodge was under new management and had a new cook, warmly greeted me.

I had arrived with an appetite ready to take on the offer of all-you-can-eat. Alan and the cook pointed out the various culinary delights awaiting my palette. There were moose ribs, partridge, goose, rabbit stew, wild rice melody, bannock and other regular fare. I didn’t avail myself of the normal vegetables but limited myself to the country food.

In a word it was superb. The goose was done to perfection. The partridge was all that I remembered. Personally I prefer partridge stew but it didn’t stop me from adding a nice oven-baked to just the right amount piece of partridge on my second round to the buffet. Though the plate looked full, it was just to see what tasted good, then I would get down to serious business. I must admit I felt a little greedy upon smelling the buffet. I hadn’t seen nor had country food on a regular basis for a long time. I could understand Neil’s requests for community restaurants to start providing it.

The rabbit stew was magnificent with the meat easily detaching. The dumplings were just the things to sop up the gravy. My only real complaint was that I wasn’t used to the Chinese food style of doing the moose ribs. It didn’t stop me, though, from adding a second helping. The taste was different but not bad.

Overall this was more than a decent meal. One that brought back a lot of old familiar but notforgotten tastes. The tastes of childhood ghosting in from the past, bringing back the smell of daysin the bush, of visiting relatives or being at grandpa and grandma’s. It was the taste of just beingglad to be home once again. Like Neil always said, Cree restaurants should serve traditional fare.