The Viking’s Table

The Viking’s Table was a chain of all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants scattered around L.A.  The main one I visited (just once) was located in Culver City.  On the front, a huge, you-can’t-miss-it sign proclaimed “Smorgasboard,” which along with some artwork conveyed images of luscious carved meats, steaming trays of rotisseried fowl, hearty portions of fresh veggies.  Inside, you learned it meant a steam table full of the kind of thing you’d find in your high school cafeteria and say, “Uh, I think I’ll go outside and get a sandwich from the machine.”  I recall a lot of creamed items…what I guess was creamed chicken, though you could never be sure.  I don’t know if the places were ever any good — I’m guessing they’d have to have been once — but by the time I got to one, forget about it.  I gave up on the Viking’s Table and so did everyone else.  They all closed…I thought.

Years later, going to an Egghead Software store (remember them?) on Pico at Bundy, I parked down the block and found myself in front of small restaurant that called itself The Viking’s Table and promised all I could eat for five or so bucks.  As much out of curiosity as hunger, I went in and found that an Asian family was operating the place and that while the decor was travel posters of Sweden, the repast was Chinese — mostly “filler” foods like fried hollow won tons, rice and soft noodles.  There was meat on the steam table but not much…and if you looked like you might be inclined to go get some, a small, Oriental child would be sent to your table to deliver a basket of bread.  She would stare at you with eyes like a Walter Keane painting, silently pleading with you not to eat much…and you wouldn’t.  Not because of the little girl but because there just wasn’t much there worth eating.

That one closed, too.  I think they’re all gone.  So are the Vikings, probably because if that’s what they have on their tables, they all starved to death.

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