Friday, August 16, 2019


It has been a very long time since we  have brought out the Rules of the Buffet  - rules to be followed by any one eating a buffet - and WOW are they needed now.  What I see at buffets is just beyond manors and often just disgusting - and this goes for adults, kids, and even supervised kids. 


1. All you can eat is not a challenge. It is an offer!

2. There is no limit to the number of times that you can go up and get food.

3. Take your food in courses - as you would be served if ordering from a menu.

4. Everyone must pay!

5. No food is permitted to be taken out of the restaurant.

6. Take only what you will eat - do not waste food.

7. For a more social meal, it is polite to wait for the others at the table to finish their plates and then go up together to get more.

8. Take a clean plate every time that you go up to the buffet tables.

9. If you put it on your plate, leave it there. Never return food to the serving tray.

10. Never eat at the buffet tables!

11. Children under 12 should not be going up to the buffet tables alone.

12. The buffet table is not a cafeteria line.

13. Tip the server.

14. Never take a serving piece from one item and use it for another item.

15. Never place your dirty plates on someone else's table.

16. Never use your silverware to serve yourself from the buffet trays.

17. Once you have gotten what you want, don't stand around the buffet tables. Move on back to your table.

18. Children should remain seated through the meal.

19. Do not fill community plates for the "table". Each should take their own plate of what they wish to eat.

20. If you cough or sneeze into your hand, please do not use that hand to pick up the serving utensils.

21. In the buffet, as in any restaurant, children (and adults) should use their inside voices.

22. Don't talk on your cell phone while you are getting your food at the buffet tables.

23. Never bring an animal into the buffet. (this is not referring to medical guide dogs)

24. Never put your hands into a serving tray.

25. Tell your children not to put their hands into a serving tray - and make sure that they do not!

26. Do not carry on a conversation throughout dinner with the people at the tables around you.

27. Do not put anything back into a serving tray that has dropped onto the serving counter - and never put anything back into a serving tray (whether from the counter or your dish) with your fingers.

28. Never put the serving utensil, whether it a spoon, fork, or tongs, up to your nose to smell the food that you have taken out of the serving tray.

29. Do not eat while walking with your plate back to your table.

If you take a plate, bowl, cup, or piece of silverware and you decide you don't want it, do not put it back on the stack of clean dishes or back with the clean silverware. Take it back to your table or put it on the side of the stack where it will not be taken as clean. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Golden Corral, Freehold, NJ - A Hit and Miss Golden Corral

Yes, it has been a long time since the last article. I have not wanted to keep writing about the same places and there are so few buffets to write about any longer - in fact, even the old standbys seem to be closing.

I am often asked about the Golden Corral in Freehold, New Jersey. We have been there many times in the past and the one thing that holds true is that one visit can be great and another visit not so good. This Golden Corral opened with some problems and during that first year it was to be avoided - and that was some time ago. It got better - but it remains inconsistent.

We were just there again. We had not been there for a number of months. This is not near us. It takes two expensive bridge tolls and a lot of traffic to get to this Golden Corral - the closest Golden Corral to the NY Metro area.  We had business in the area and decided to spend time until dinner to have dinner at Golden Corral.

We had been to the Golden Corral in Whitehall, PA for dinner not too long ago. That was nice! Our experiences there have been consistently good. The price for dinner there was $13.99 - less for Seniors.  We walked into the Golden Corral in Freehold and the price for adults was $15.99 with a Senior price of $14.99!!! This was not on the weekend. This was a Wednesday night!  This Golden Corral has always been more expensive - but never this high! Drinks are almost $3.00. This is now quite an expensive meal with nothing really different from what they have ever served before.

I like Golden Corral, in general, for the steak. It is the best of the buffet steak - thick sirloin - and when there is a grill chef who knows what he is doing will cook to order as you request - and you get your piece of the steak the way you want it. The grill chef on this night at the New Jersey Golden Corral was one I have seen there before.  I like my steak rare - not raw - but red inside and crispy cooked outside - and often I get it this way just by asking for rare.  I asked for a rare steak. He took one off the side of the grill from a pile of steaks and started cooking it again - OK - he was going to heat it back up (I guess). He cut a piece off the steak - did not show it to me - as they usually do - and put it on my plate. It is best described as medium/well.  Tasty? Yes. Grizzly? No. Overdone? Yes - for me.

We start our meals with soup and we both like the chicken noodle soup that Golden Corral serves. Unlike other chicken noodle soups the noodles are thick and doughy - great. The soup has pieces of chicken, carrots, and celery in a nice chicken broth - USUALLY.  This chicken noodle soup tasted like someone in the kitchen dropped a full container of salt into the chicken noodle soup. It really was beyond edible for the salt. This is not usual in our experience with this soup - there or in other Golden Corrals.

My wife likes meatloaf - as do I. She likes brown gravy meatloaf - as opposed to tomato sauce/ketchup covered meatloaf. On this night it was brown gravy meatloaf - burned on the top. We both took some. This too was so salty it was hard to eat it. My wife says that the next tray they brought out - which was not burned on top - and she took some - was not salty. So what happened to that first one? Not good!

There are special features on the menu this month - the one most intriguing on the television commercial is Slow Smoked Sirloin. On the commercial this looks like steak. In photo ads it looks like sliced sirloin.  In each ad, it is pink and juicy looking - nicely pink and juicy looking! When I saw this I knew I had to get to a Golden Corral to try this - and was looking forward to this when we came in that night.  it was on the side of the grill counter - a large blackened chunk of beef to be sliced by one of the grill people. I went up for a piece and eventually someone came over to slice it - they had been slicing in advance before I came up. He sliced off about an inch thick slab of grey meat with a thick crust and a small pink ring around the edge under the crust. I figure that was the "smoke ring" and the crust was the "bark" - all smoked BBQ terms.  The nice pink and juicy smoked sirloin was just on the commercial and the photo ads. This was more pot roast than anything else. It was tender - at least while it remained hot. As I was getting to the end of the piece (reluctantly) it was fast becoming tough and not chewable. There was a seasoning on the outside - and on the meat - that was a bit overwhelming - and not good. I did not finish the piece I was given.  I just could not eat any more of it. Is this representative of this entree in all Golden Corral's - I hope not - but maybe it is. I regretted not taking another piece of steak instead of this not good featured slow smoked sirloin.

The other features are Peel and Eat Shrimp, Golden Fried Shrimp, and Cajun Shrimp Boil. Of these I only saw the peel and eat shrimp and that was on the side of the salad bar. My wife missed that completely and when I told her about it she thought I was talking about the tiny boiled shrimp that are always on their salad bar. The other two - ? - if they were there they were not obvious, but I was not looking for them.

Between the too much salt and the price and the not so properly cooked steak and the not so good slow smoked sirloin this was one of those better not happen too often OFF nights at Golden Corral, Freehold, New Jersey.

My wife was even more unhappy because for some reason they need to pour a thick butterish oil over the cornbread and rolls and soak it in - making that not very appealing. it is not butter - and there is plenty of butter available to put your own butter on the rolls and the cornbread.

Dessert - the selection is limited - and my wife likes to take the apple cobbler and put the vanilla soft-serve over it - which she says has been good at other Golden Corrals - and even at this one in the past.  The apple cobbler was fine but the soft-serve machine was putting out white ice and not vanilla soft-serve ice cream.  I had a small cube of chocolate frosted chocolate sheet cake - which was just OK.

Service here - in our experience - has mostly been good and it was good on this night. The server went out of his way to keep checking in with us and while it took him a little while to get to our table when we first sat down, he was good during the meal. He also was covering too many tables and was  constantly carrying more stacks of dishes than he should be expected to. Another server was needed in this section.   Many were not tipping him. I did - as always.

Cleanliness was just OK. There were too many dirty plates coming off the clean stack and when you pick you a plate check the top and bottom of that plate and the bottom of the plate that was under it.  Since plates are now out to take (and not brought to your table by your server as they were at Golden Corral in the past) there is a problem with finding a clean plate.

Will this be the last time we go to this Golden Corral?  No, it won't be. We will go back again as the next time could be very good.  Why was this time like this - there really is no explanation or excuse. It was not crowded. We did not arrive late - in fact we were earlier than we usually are at most buffets - just after 6 pm.  The price, however, will be a concern. For the cost of this dinner for two I could go to a non-buffet steak chain and save the gas and tolls.

Do I caution those who have never been there from going? Yes. Expect that it could be great or a bumpy meal!  But do definitely expect it to cost a lot.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Chen's Buffet, Levittown NY - Back to See After a Long Time

Asian buffets in our area are getting fewer and fewer. A favorite out in Suffolk County recently closed. We have been going to two on a semi-regular basis - both of which are OK but I was curious to see what Chen's is now like after not going for quite a long time and also how it is attempting to compete with it's directly across the street competition, Global Buffet.

Chen's no longer has a website. I was able to find out that dinner price at Chen's is now $11.99, Monday to Friday, and $13.99 on Sundays. There are no longer any coupons in their advertising but there is a 10% discount for Seniors. We went on a Friday night.

It was not crowded.  At one time this buffet was jammed on Friday nights.

We were seated and we went up to the buffet for soup. The wonton soup has the liquid in one hot pot and the wontons in a steamer. I opened the wonton steamer and they looked dry and yellow. I took one and some chicken broth. The broth was very hot - which is a good thing as this buffet in the past had problems with food not being kept hot enough while out.  The broth had little taste. I bit into the wonton and it was like biting into a small rubber ball. (This was my experience with several things I chose to eat here.)  A lot of chewing of the hard outer noodle wrapper and it went down.  My wife had egg drop soup and said it was OK - at least it was the correct color (she noticed the color of the wontons too).

I went up for sushi. The sushi was OK. There was not a large assortment - mostly it was salmon and tuna in various forms. The fish was cut thick. The soy sauce that was put out for it was excessively salty - far more so than regular soy sauce - even from other buffets. There was not much of each choice out - but there was a man at the counter making it to refill. I normally would have taken more of one or another but I did not want to empty the dish of any one of them.

Let's see... I took a dumping. I thought the wonton was like a rubber ball - this was more so. It was thick with hard spots that were impossible to chew. That found its way out of my mouth to the side of my plate. A grilled skewer of chicken was hard. Most of that got left. A scallop on the shell was not a scallop or even pieces of scallop. I would say it was chopped up fake crab = Krab. At least it was chew-able.

Shrimp out of the seafood delight was OK. Chicken out of the Chicken and Broccoli was rubbery. Teriyaki Chicken was OK. I was going to take Pepper Steak but the beef in this looked like dry, hard beef jerky chips (which likely is not something that really exists) but this was not anything one would want to try to bite - and no one was taking any. There were mushrooms in oyster sauce that was dried out. Along the way, someone from the buffet stirred it and it did not look as bad. I took two small mushrooms and they were really sweet from having sat too long in the sauce. I took lo mein and that was the most normal thing I had. It tasted pretty good but again it was sweet - which lo mein is not usually. I was tempted by a roast beef. I started to slice it and the large serrated carving knife was not cutting it. I walked away without taking any.  I took some fried rice - it was OK.

I next went up to the grill. There was thick slices of beef - thick enough to be a steak though about three inches (maybe) around. I took two and had them grilled. It was somewhat tasty though it needed salt and I don't usually put salt on food (unless it needs it) but it was  tough and chewy. I had to cut it into small pieces to be able to chew it.

Well - one thing that looked tempting when we had walked around the buffet were flat, hot apple pie sealed pockets. I had planned on that for dessert. When we went up to take them they were dried out and burned all around. We went to the dessert bar and took cookies. I also took a small rolled cake - commercial out of the commercial serving package. It was not good and I did not eat it.

I am not sure how they stay in business other than they are less expensive from what is across the street which has gone up in price since it opened. There I find things to eat that are tasty and edible (most of the time).  Before I left I could feel the MSG headache coming on - so something I ate had to have been loaded with it. I wondered if it was the steak as it came on shortly after.

SO - Chen's - No. I was hopeful - and disappointed in that.

Chen's Buffet is located at 3056 Hempstead Turnpike, Levittown, NY 11756.

Friday, July 06, 2018

IKEA Summer Smorgasbord - All IKEA stores

We regularly go to the four time a year IKEA Smorgasbord special dinners. These take place four times a year. There is a pre-Christmas dinner, a pre-Easter dinner, a Mid-Summer dinner (in June) and a dinner in September that features Crayfish. These are all all you care to eat dinners laid out on Smorgasbord tables and they have seatings twice on a Friday - one 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm and one 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm and they take place in the restaurant in IKEA stores. We go to all but the crayfish dinner. We have written about these dinners before.

I am writing this right after attending and enjoying the Mid-Summer Smorgasbord. Usually the menu is pretty much the same from one dinner to the next with some seasonal changes. This year the Mid-Summer dinner had different entrees than any of the dinners have had in the past. The menu from IKEA store to store is generally the same at all locations for these dinners - so the changes here should have been the same at the dinners at the other IKEAs as the advertising for these dinners goes out from all IKEA stores.

The many of the usual were included - and consider the price of these items if you were to go to a restaurant and order them - and for some - if you went to a store to buy them and bring them home to eat. There was three kinds of pickled hearing, Gravlax (in the US - Lox, outside the US - smoked salmon), poached salmon, and hot smoked salmon. There was shrimp salad - small shrimp in a mayonnaise based dressing. There were shrimp stuffed hard boiled eggs.  There was the usual Swedish Meatballs. There was tossed salad. There was redskin potato salad. Other than the potato salad this all has been at IKEA smorgasbord dinners before. The usual meat entree at these dinners is ham, but at this dinner there was no ham. There were St Louis Ribs and Bratwurst. Never before has there been St. Louis Ribs and Bratwurst! Both absolutely seasonal - not very much Swedish - but a nice change!

The ribs were fall off the bone. We were told during the dinner that the Food Service Manager cooked the ribs - and he was very proud of it. There were sections of three and sections of four ribs - take as much as you want, of course. They were dry seasoned - no barbecue sauce. I would have preferred  barbecue sauce on them but they were meaty and good even without the sauce. Several years past IKEA would serve in their restaurant half racks of baby back ribs in a thick barbecue sauce that were pretty good - but they no longer offer that. These ribs were different - much more meat but no sauce. I enjoyed them!

The bratwurst was also a new entree and these were cooked with onions and cut in half to serve. Large serving platters of brats were put on the two serving tables. The brats has a slight beer taste underlying and they were either cooked in beer - as brats often are - or these were beer brats as sold in some meat markets. They were good! Even my picky eater wife tried them and liked them - I did not tell her there was most likely beer in them or they were cooked in beer until we were leaving. She knew there was a different taste than she expected.

The deserts included fruit salad, fresh strawberries, fresh blueberries, red velvet cake, and a strawberry filled cream cake. There were two types of IKEAs excellent sandwich cookies - one jelly filled and the other chocolate filled. The deserts do change from Smorgasbord to Smorgasbord and are usually seasonal.

Of course, there is unlimited soft drinks, a non-alcoholic seasonal cider drink and now this IKEA has a computerized coffee dispenser that makes lattes, cappuccino, espresso, and Americano coffee. Put your cup under the spout and push on the screen for your choice and it is made in the machine and dispensed into the cup complete with a head of milk foam.

As I have reported in the past this IKEA store goes all out to make these dinners a party and here there is music from a live band that plays both Swedish Music and Country/Cajun music - interesting combination and they are excellent. During the dinner they stream live on Facebook. We were speaking to the manager during dinner and he said that there are very few IKEA stores that have live music at the Smorgasbord dinners and he has booked this specific band for several years into the future to be sure they are available. The band was talking about jobs they play all over the country - not for IKEA.

There is always a seasonal presentation at the dinners. These dinners coincide with traditional smorgasbord celebrations in Sweden. Mid-Summer does take place in Sweden and the people eat all night on the Summer Solstice celebrating the midnight sun. At this dinner tonight at IKEA there was a circle dance done around a tree as done in Sweden for this holiday - and they get children and adults to come up and join in the dance - which is always a simple dance and easy to do. All night they also had a craft table going on for children - and adults - to make a traditional Swedish head wreath with flowers - which is worn at these celebrations in Sweden - no real flowers but some nice paper flowers adorned many heads on this night.

And then there is the price - and I save the best for last. This dinner - with an IKEA Family Club Card is $12.99 each for adults and $2.99 each for children!  What you don't have an IKEA Family Club Card? They are free and you get one immediately at kiosks all over the store. Get the card. Buy your tickets in ADVANCE at the cashier in the IKEA restaurant (not the snack bar). These dinners often sell out - this one was sold out. People came to see if they could get in, not having bought tickets in advance, and were turned away.  Tickets go on sale during the dinner before the next dinner - and if the next dinner was not the Crayfish dinner we could have bought tickets for that to be held in the Fall tonight. Signs for the dinners go up in the store and in the restaurant about two months or so before the dinner. Depending on the dinner they can sell out quickly. 

I had said above about what you are getting here for the money you are paying compared to getting the same off a menu at non-buffet restaurants. Well, around here two slices of lox (smoked salmon) on a bagel with a little cream cheese in a dinner can cost you upwards of $15.99 and more. I had at least six slices of lox tonight along with everything else.

We very much look forward to each of these dinners. We have a lot of fun. We get there to be on line to be one of the first in - you pick your own table - and then we stay to the very end and the music plays all night!  One thing we always take note of is how friendly and nice the IKEA employees are in the restaurant and at these dinners. They actually seem to enjoy their work.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Foxwoods Casino Festival Buffet - Connecticut

I had not realized that we had not been to Foxwoods Casino Festival Buffet since 2013. That last visit was a disappointment and the year before that it has been as well. This had been a regular birthday dinner trip until then. I guess following that I took my own advice and we headed for Lancaster for my birthday buffet dinner. We have been trying to plan trips around rather poor weather reports and I saw that Thursday was going to be cool but nice and I wanted to go somewhere for a buffet. I started poking around to where to go. I decided that for another single day trip to Lancaster it really was too expensive and hopefully we will get there for several days at some point soon. I looked northward to Connecticut and started looking up the current pricing at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods for their buffets. Mohegan Sun is $30. Foxwoods is usually $24 but on Thursdays if you are 55 years of age or older - during a special they are having - the buffet at dinner from 6 pm to 9 pm when it closes is $9.99! I looked at my past articles. I felt things must have changed - maybe in the past five years. I looked around at reviews and they are mixed - some good and some terrible. For $10 each for dinner, a nice day out with a stop at a favorite spot in Connecticut before getting to the casino, and only one bridge toll - despite the recent jump in gas prices - we would go!

I could talk a lot about getting there. I will just say that the Waze app let me down and sent us out of the way and onto some rather dangerous roads that were single lane and twisted around high hills with one spot having a big sign reading "Dangerous Curve!"  That these roads brought us back to the same large main road it sent us off of - with no reported problems on that road convinced me that this is not an app to rely upon at all.

So we got to Foxwoods, later than we had planned and went straight to the buffet to have dinner. There was a line as I anticipated there would be but we only waited about fifteen minutes to get in. Needless to say, there were a lot of seniors also there for the regular $24 buffet for only $9.99 - but that is fine. 

Every night there is an option to a pay $10 extra for either a sirloin steak of snow crab legs. The week end buffet includes steak and snow crab legs at no additional cost - though I am not sure if you would be getting the same steak as the one you pay extra for. It is not right that they are charging the same every night (except Thursday nights for Seniors) and not including steak and crab legs as they do on weekends. It would be understandable if the price was higher on the weekends - but it is not. So that annoyance aside - onto our dinner.

Overall the selections and food stations are the same as they had been. There is a Seafood Station, a Carving Station, an "International" Station, an Italian Station, an Asian Station, and a Barbecue Station. There is a area in the middle of the dining room with soups and a salad bar with make your salad and prepared salads. The price includes unlimited soft drinks.

As usual, we started with soup. When we were seated my wife told me to go up for soup while she waited for the server to give our drink order. We had been sitting for about five minutes and no one had come over. As I was on my way back to the table with my soup, my wife was walking up to the soup area and she told me the woman server was very nice and took the drink order without any confusion. Plus one right there.

There are four soups - as there have been in the past. There were two thick soups and two thin soups. There was New England Clam Chowder, a red bean soup, a thin vegetable chowder, and chicken rice soup. In the past there were often all thick soups - this variety is much better. I chose the vegetable chowder. I was going to pick the New England Clam but decided on trying something different and I was not sure I wanted a thick heavy soup. The vegetable chowder was very good. It was a vegetable stock with a bit of a tang to it - either vinegar or a seasoning, There was a visible seasoning that looked like what is found in red clam chowder or minestrone. The soup was full of vegetables. As I got down to the bottom of the bowl I wondered if I should go and get more - but no, I decided that I would get on with the meal.  My wife took the chicken rice and felt it could have had more in it - but it tasted fine.

The salad bar was next - and we did not take much. Not that there was not a lot to take. We were not going to make big salads. We took a little of this and a little of that and not much at all, There was a really nice looking Caesar Salad but with the recent problems with Romaine lettuce and a national Ecoli scare I decided against that. Despite articles that say it has past, there was a report of four more cases including one in NY just the past week of when I am writing this. What we took from the salad bar was tasty. I tried some Tortellini salad with black olives. It was good. 

On to the main event! I walked around all of the stations deciding. I knew that at least once and more likely twice I was going to get the Prime Rib that was being carved. The other carving was pork roast with pancetta. What caught my attention were barbecue ribs in the Barbecue area, the sausage and peppers in tomato sauce, tortellini bruschetta (not sure why bruschetta as it just seemed to be thick tomato sauce), a macaroni in white cream sauce, and the Prime Rib kept calling me. And I took a little of each of this all - except the Prime Rib. When I was about to get  up to the carver from the line, he was left with a full half of a Prime Rib and a slice of Prime Rib from what he was carving from that was about an inch and a half thick. He was not carving thick slices. He cut that thick slice in half and he gave the woman in front of me that and gave me the other half. My first thought was that this was too much to start off with but I took it back to the table. It was supposed to be rare. It was pink and it was more medium rare, but as I have been writing, when I have been writing lately, I have a craving for beef, steak in particular but Prime Rib is a good second. The Prime Rib was mostly tender. Around the cooked edges there were some spots that had to be cut out as they were more grizzle than meat.  It was a little less than flavorful and I wound up adding salt which I rarely do. It was fine. The sausage was good. The tortellini was nice. The macaroni in white cream sauce, most would say was just right - but I am not a fan of  al dente macaroni. To me it is under cooked and hard to chew. I much prefer pasta/macaroni that has cooked to not quite soft but not at all hard. It tasted good but it was not as I like. I don't really get this passion for almost raw macaroni. The rib was tasty but I only took a small piece and there was no bone which I saw when I took it. It was covered in a pleasant barbecue sauce that was not too sweet and I liked what I ate. I put this on my get some more of list for the next trip up.

The Seafood Station has fried shrimp, fried calamari, a fried batter dipped snapper that looked dark and over fried, a cod fillet in a green curry sauce, and peel and eat shrimp. I passed all of it up. There were no fried clams on this night as they had been at least five years ago. I was not going to try anything in curry - I had an almost two hundred mile drive home after this dinner. I would have taken the snapper if it was not overdone.

I took two more full ribs. There were two focaccia to choose from- one with vegetables and cheese and the other with pepperoni and cheese, both with tomato sauce. I took the vegetable focaccia. There were crab clusters - but these were stone crab clusters - a half crab that were broiled or just put in a fryer. I took a half to try it. I took a meatball. I went over to the Barbecue Station and took some red skin potato salad. I went back to the table. My wife was up at the carving station. She is not a fan of beef and she was looking for turkey which has been here - again, at least in the long past. There was no turkey but the pork roast and she was not certain she would like the pancetta that was on it. Remember, my wife is a picky eater. When she came back without any carvings we had a discussion about this and she said the turkey was what she had always liked the most to take here. She does make do finding things.  These two ribs were good. They were almost fall off the bone ribs and they were very tasty. The focaccia was very tasty. The crab - well... When I got back to the table I was smelling the ocean which for raw fish is a good thing but it was the crab. OK. Stone crab is very hard to open, This seemed to be a bit brittle and it broke in half. I tried to pull out some of the white crab meat inside the cluster with a fork and came out with a little shreds of meat and a lot of a hard shell like substance that was over the open end of the cluster. It was then an effort to get these sharp little bits out of my mouth. I went back into the shell to try to get some actual crab meat and a little did come out - which I could taste - but again there was this shell. I stopped at that point and pushed the crab to the side of my plate. The potato salad was good.

What was to be my final trip up and you know it was going to be Primer Rib! There was no line and I could see the carver cutting up the rest of what he had out into small slices of well done beef. I said to myself - and my good wife - that I would wait. I wanted a new Prime Rib and it was still an hour and a half to closing so they would certainly bring another out. Rather than go back to the table with an empty plate - as my wife had already taken what she was going to have, I took some sliced beef in onion sauce. This was in a tray at the carving area. There was also a chicken dish there. I took just a little and some more vegetable focaccia and went back to the table to wait for Prime Rib. I finished what was on my plate and I saw people gathering at the Carving Station. My wife was not going to go up for more until dessert. The Prime Rib was red, rare and juicy! He cut one slice and I asked for two and he cut a second. He was cutting thin slices - more like one slices roast beef but at this point in the meal that was OK. I put some red skinned boiled potatoes on my plate and went back to the table and really enjoyed this beef.

There were other things to choose from and there were several vegetable dishes. I did not take any fried chicken but it did look good! 

During the course of the meal the server cleared the plates off the table each time we went up for more and she came and asked if we would like refills on our drinks which she brought promptly. She was an excellent server. In 2012 and 2013 my articles about Foxwoods talk about the poor service we had.

It was time for dessert and I went to look at what there was. The dessert area is a long counter with glass shelves going up full of baked goods. There were several things that looked good. Some labeling could have been better. There was a cheese cake that was topped with something - maybe caramel but there was no sign. There was a Boston Cream cake. There was a chocolate chip cookie cake that tempted me. I have to note this about the desserts - the Sugar Free desserts were the nicest looking desserts that were out - nice looking iced and cream layer cakes. I don't eat sugar free because one never knows what they have been sweetened with and some common sweeteners are sugar alcohols which are laxatives - fast working laxatives. There was a soft serve sundae bar - the soft serve ice cream looked icy. I went down to the very end and found bread pudding! I took that - thought about also taking the chocolate chip cookie cake - but didn't and headed back. The bread pudding was a little on the sweet side but fine. (Not as good as the bread pudding at Golden Corral which is my favorite.)

This was a good meal for $9.99! Was it a good meal for $24? Hmm. Nothing was bad. Nothing was wrong with anything I took. I enjoyed everything that I ate - but I can compare this to other $24 buffet meals that I have had and this was just OK - in comparison. I am looking strictly at value. Again nothing wrong. I would certainly go back on a Thursday night for $9.99 each and I am driving a distance for this!  We are not gamblers. I love casinos - the atmosphere, the money risked. But I can't afford to be a gambler. We go strictly to eat and walk around.  If it was not Thursday - that may be a dilemma in deciding.  There are two buffet choices - one is Mohegan Sun which we were at a year ago but I never got around to writing about. It was OK - but now it is $30. There is also now a Golden Corral in Connecticut which I have not yet been to. It opened with some difficulties and a reader wrote and told me to avoid it for awhile - and I have still not yet gone. When I do go, you all will know about it. But $12.99 or whatever this Golden Corral is charging (another article will talk about recent price increases) is a lot better than $24 and $30 each - and just about every Golden Corral I have been to has had good steak.  Ah yes - children are allowed in the building and in the buffet. They cannot go onto the casino floor where there is gambling.

I can say confidently that the negative reviews that I saw on Yelp and Trip Advisor was not the experience I had. It was pretty much all positive!  I wish I was close by - without the trip we have to get there - as I would be there most Thursday nights! The special is not on holidays - so Thanksgiving is out! 😄

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Where Have We Been?!?

We have gotten some kind emails from some of our readers asking where have we been. There has not been an article for some time now. Well, the problem is not where we have been - it is that we have not been anywhere.

This past winter was a tough one and this Spring is not much better. The weather has kept us local and we were only able to get to a buffet out of this area four times from December to now. We made it down to Lancaster, PA three times, each for just part of a day - and all three times ate at the buffet at Dutch Way Restaurant in Gap, PA. Once we got to New Jersey and went to the Golden Corral in Freehold. All nice meals - but nothing really new to write about. It has been "Same old, same old" when it comes to buffets. I had a an article or two in mind from some of those meals but thinking about writing them, I felt that if writing them would bore me, they certainly would bore our readers. So this site has been quiet. The weather has gone from snow every week to rain just about every week. We plan trips to buffets and it has been just not worth dealing with the weather to get out of state to get to them.

Locally there have been a number of meals at Asian buffets - there only Asian buffets here now. There has been nothing special about them and they have been primarily in the same two restaurants - Flaming Grill and Global Buffet. We did have one dinner at International Buffet for an occasion. We did go to two IKEA Seasonal Smorgasbords - one before Christmas that was nearly snowed out.  The other was before Easter. Both - as always - were very good. I have a regular reader who writes to me about the IKEA Smorgasbords he goes to at the IKEA store in Brooklyn, NY and they are run very differently from the dinners at the IKEA near us.

The other problem is buffets close rather than new buffets open.  Old Country Buffet is gone from here - the closest still open is in New Jersey - and as much as it would be nice to go to an Old Country Buffet again, if going to New Jersey I will go to Golden Corral where I know I am going to have a nice steak - and likely more than one. (Steak deprivation seems to be at the center of most that I have written about in the recent past. 😃 ) 

I just wanted to let all of our readers know that we are not giving up! I may be writing about the same places but if there is something interesting or good to write about, I will write about it. With the Summer just about starting, we will get out and away more and I will write about what I find.

And why when we were in Lancaster, with several great buffets to go to, did I pick Dutch Way, Gap? Each of those trips were on a Friday night and Dutch Way was where I was going to find Prime Rib on the buffet - and while steak is best, Prime Rib is a close second.

So stick around and we will be here when there is something to be here for. And I am thinking that I really need to run the Rules of the Buffet again sometime soon! In the buffets that are still around  - particularly around here - they are sorely needed!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Dinner at DJ's International Buffet, Garden City, NY

With a holiday week that was not feeling very special - not that it should - I had thoughts of going off somewhere to have a better than our usual buffet. I thought about the casinos in Connecticut, a drive to New Jersey to Golden Corral, or even all the way to Lancaster, PA for a day. None of that seemed worth the tolls and gas. My wife suggested that we go to a buffet locally that we might only go for for a special celebration.  There were two I thought about - one was going to cost over $80 for the two of us so I ruled that one out - and we decided to go to DJ's International Buffet which we have been to many times in the past, would cost half what that other buffet would cost, and we only go to for special occasions.

We were there a year ago - and had I gone back to read my article from then, we might have just stayed home to eat, but I didn't check and we went. We went on a weeknight for dinner. The price of dinner on Monday to Thursday is $20.99 per adult. They often run coupons which get sent out in local advertising mailers and sometimes in newspaper supplements.

I thought that it would be empty - based on it was a weeknight - but it was fairly busy. We were seated right away and we went up to the buffet. I started with Udon Soup, which is not at the soup bar which still has a number of soups. The Udon Soup is right across from the soup bar at the grill. The bowls are out filled with udon noodles, a piece of broccoli and a piece of krab - not crab though it is supposed to be crab. If you don't know, krab is fake crab that looks like snow crab leg meat but is actually a piece of fish formed to look like that.  There is a hot serving pot of soup for the Udon Soup that you ladle into the bowl yourself. I looked for other things that usually go into Udon Soup but I did not see any. The soup was good. It had the right flavor and the noodles were thick and long. (I will put this here so that it does not get lost later - there were several bowls of noodles out when we went up. When those were gone - not long after - none were brought out again.)

There is a large sushi bar that includes just fish with no rice and that is what I headed for. I took good size pieces of tuna and salmon. I also took some of the seared tuna that is covered on the edges with black pepper and is marinated. All of it was good.

I had a few appetizers - grilled beef on a stick, a grilled pork chop, a baked scallop, a small eggroll, and some mozzarella cheese from the tomato salad where the salads were. The beef on a stick was good. I have been craving steak and grilled beef and this was the start of what satisfied that - at least for this night. The pork chop was slightly sweet but tasty. The baked scallop which was a large scallop shell covered in baked cheese with small bits (barely evident) of scallops, corn, and shredded krab with corn kernels throughout - all in a mayonnaise based sauce. It was tasty but it would have been nicer had there been more evidence of scallops in it. The eggroll was all roll and very little filling. It was as if they took the wrapper for a full size eggroll and wrapped it around into this little eggroll. The cheese was bland.

In the past there has been steak grilled to order on a flame grill. I looked around the grill area and saw a sign for the steak that said to ask. I asked. A nice size but very thin steak was brought from the refrigerator at the end of the grill area and put on the flame grill for me. I asked for it rare - as I always do.  This steak - as many Asian buffets that claim they have steak - was just a quarter inch thick. This steak should cook in a few minutes and rare should cook for no more than 60 to 90 seconds. It was turned after a minute when the flames started to come up around it. What set this steak apart form others at Asian buffets was the fat around it which was not a bad thing. I would have taken it off much sooner but he let it cook for several minutes before he took it off. I added some French Fries to the plate and a few large black Greek olives from the salad bar and took it back to the table. The char taste of the steak was just what I was craving. It was not rare - it was more a juicy grey inside. It was very juicy and it tasted like I had hoped it would taste - a steak off a flame grill. I even had a second one later on. Also not rare but tasty all the same. I wondered while I was eating the second one if I should just ask for it well done - and get the crunchy outside that I also like on a steak. (My perfect steak is charred and crunchy outside with a red rare inside - closest I get to that at a buffet is Golden Corral when the chef knows what he is doing.)

There are snow crab legs served at dinner on weeknights - hot. When we got to the restaurant the tray was empty. When I went up after the steak they brought out more that filled about a quarter of the tray- maybe 15 or so claws and single small legs - not clusters. I took two of the legs. Others were descending on the tray and they were all gone by the time I headed back to our table. (They were not filled again the rest of the night we were there.) They were not hot inside which with crab legs is a problem because that makes them difficult to get the meat out of the shell. They were tasty. It was a good thing I did not want more as there were no more to be had. We left a little after 9 pm (they close at 10 pm) and they still had brought out no more crab legs.

There are a lot of seafood dishes served on this buffet.  A good number of them are spicy - and while there are signs over most of the trays some signs obviously did not match what was in the tray below. I can't eat spicy and "picky" eater wife does not eat seafood other than shrimp - and does not eat spicy, I tried only a few of the seafood dishes. There was a steamed halibut in ginger sauce. it was bland and was not as good as other steamed fish I have had at other Asian buffets (some at lower prices). There was tilapia with their "special" seasoning. It was better than the halibut, not spicy, and OK. Tilapia is the popular fish at Asian buffets. It is not a good fish to eat if one eats fish for the benefits of eating fish. Farmed tilapia is known to actually decrease benefits gained from other fish when consumed.

It came time for dessert and I decided to get one of their made to order dessert crepes. These are cooked on a round griddle at the grill counter. It was 10 minutes to 9:00 pm - they close at 10:00 pm. I caught the eye of one of the cooks as he walked by and asked for a crepe. He picked up a small container that had a coating of crepe batter on it and told me that there were no more crepes for the night because there was no more batter. There were other tables still occupied in the dining rooms that were not yet near ready for dessert. There was an hour and ten minutes until closing. If more batter was made at this point, it would certainly keep until the next day if there was any left over. No, there were no more crepes.

Just about all of the food that we had was good. On our last visit a year ago, I found things not kept hot enough. Almost all that I had was at the correct temperature - the crab legs should have been kept hotter. I felt that we had a good dinner - BUT it bothers me that there were three main items here that you are paying for in the $21.00 dinner price that they ran out of and did not replace - the Udon Noodle Soup, the Snow Crab Legs, and the Dessert Crepes. It is not as if they are going to make this up with a reduction in price - never will happen! You are paying for what you are not getting that you should be getting. This will, likely, not keep me from going back but we do not come here regularly because of the price and it will be some time before we return.

I will let you decide if this buffet is worth going to. It was fine. Long ago - even under this name and owner - International Buffet has a long history of changes - there was much more "international" in foods offered and more of a variety. That was then - this is now. If it matters there is lobster on Friday to Sunday at diner - the price per adult is then $25.

 D.J.'s International Buffet is located at 1100 Stewart Avenue in Garden City, New York. There is a website, linked at the side in the right column. Beware that when you open the website it plays annoying music, which can be turned off, but if you turn it off and go to another page (except the price page) the music starts again.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Island Buffet, Baldwin, New York

In 2014 we went to an Asian buffet in Baldwin, NY and walked out before we were seated. I wrote about that then in an article.  Last week looking through an advertising mailer we saw an ad and coupon for a "Grand Opening" and it turned out to be the Island Buffet in Baldwin. We wondered if it was that same buffet and saw right away from the little map  in the ad that it was. But "Grand Opening"?  I did some searching and from everything that I saw it was the same as it was in 2014 and that it had remained in business from then to now.

The prices in the ad were interesting - $11.99 on Friday and Saturday nights. There was a coupon for $3.00 off.  The ad said lobster or crab legs every night. They claimed to be the largest buffet in Baldwin and had great quality and quantity in what they offered on the buffet. It intrigued us enough to decide to go and find out for ourselves. Last time we never made it past the lobby. I wondered if that was going to be different on this visit.

We went. We walked right in. We were seated at a booth - I did not ask for anything specific in terms of seating. We were taken into the dining room and seated in front of the window. My wife commented that this was why we walked out the last time. We sat down. The window is large and on a cold night as this one was, it was not very comfortable - and being on display to anyone who walked past on the sidewalk was not great. There were other tables and booths away from the window - but it seems like they want to fill those window booths. We put up with it.

The buffet includes an hibachi grill, four double sided, double length hot and cold buffet tables and a counter of hard scooped ice cream and dessert cakes.  On an L of the hibachi grill is a sushi bar. The restaurant is 1/4 filled with the buffet area. 1/4 filled with a dining room and 1/2 filled with large party rooms and a lobby. The party room seemed to have two parties going on - one with a rock band and another with small children. As we had walked into the restaurant we could hear the band as clearly as if we were next to them. As we were going up to the buffet several times the children had moved out of the party room for their party and were running through the restaurant. Later we could hear their party entertainment - across the restaurant - as clearly as if we were in the room with them. I had to wonder through this dinner why this restaurant does not just become a party catering venue and forget the restaurant which always seems to be an afterthought here.

The dishes to use at the buffet are located UNDER the buffet tables on near the ground shelf. If you have problems bending over you are going to have a hard time getting the dished to eat off of. Maybe this is minor but I know people who would have had a problem - and not that they are "fat" which might be the assumption.

So how was the meal. I was fairly happy at the start. The food here is tasty. I tried a number of things on the buffet. They have what they call barbecue beef. This is a slice of beef about a quarter inch thick with enough marbling to give it some taste. My first selections of this beef seemed to have been sitting out on the buffet for awhile and perhaps I should have skipped it at that point - but I took a couple of slices. I looked around the buffet for knives - this was not going to be easy to eat without cutting it. There were no knives. I tried spearing it and eating it that way. It was tough but it had a nice taste. So much so that I wanted to eat it but some of it came out into a napkin because after chewing and chewing it was not small enough to get down. I tried other things. There are crab cakes that are rather different - more cake than crab but again they were tasty. There was lobster - the usual buffet lobster in ginger sauce broken into chunks and pieces. There was not a lot out and about one tray and a half of the tray was put out during the time we were there. And the lobster was tasty.

I then had something happen about half way through the meal that I have had perhaps only once in all of the years that I have been writing about buffets and Asian buffets. I suddenly had a headache - and I knew right away from how it felt and how this type of headache has felt before - this was an MSG headache. MSG is a powdered substance (mono-sodium glutamate). used in some Oriental cooking that is a preservative and brings out the flavors of foods. It is not unusual to find this at Chinese restaurants and I am sensitive to it and get the common reaction to it - a headache. I eat at Asian buffets at least once a week and as I say, I can recall once many years ago that I got an MSG headache at an Asian buffet. This reaction to MSG is common - at take out Asian restaurants and at menu Asian restaurants one can request that it is left out. I know that the take out Asian restaurant that I go to uses this - and they do leave it out on request. You can't do that at a buffet - but Asian buffets that I have been at don't put it in the food. Here they must put it in quantity as I can usually get through a meal before I feel it. Quality foods and good cooking does not need MSG added.

There was nothing that I could do at that point and continued with dinner. Several of the things I tried - like the bbq beef that did not chew (I have to say that I took more later that looked less dried out and that was better) - I had a few things in addition that went into my mouth and came out in a napkin. There was fish with bones that were not obvious. There was fried zucchini that  - again - was tasty bu that had a overdone coating on it that almost broke a tooth.

There were things I would not take. The some of the sushi was off-color and dried out. There were raw clams that had an odd color and were dried out. Some of the food on the buffet needed to be hotter. When items first come out to the buffet table they are hot, but they cool off shortly after and that should not happen.

I did not go up to the hibachi grill but only because when I decided I would try it, there was no one there cooking. There had been earlier.

For dessert they have a variety of hard ice creams in a freezer case that you scoop yourself. There are the sheet cakes that you see at many of the Asian buffets. There were some fresh fruits and canned fruits. There was also hot apple wrapped pastry.

The service was fine. We did overhear a discussion between customers at a nearby table with the waitress about the coupon that offered three dollars off. We had seen the coupon but had forgot to bring it. The coupon said $3.00 - limit 2. The discussion at that table was that the two dining gave the coupon and only received $3.00 off and not $3.00 for each of the two. The waitress was telling them that the coupon was only for one $3.00 discount and there had to be two people to get it. This is clearly not what the coupon we saw said - and if this restaurant meant this then the coupon should have read $3.00 off - minimum 2 people for discount. This was not good. Other Asian buffets in this area offer coupons that include all adults who are dining - some specify no more than ten. Some reviews of this buffet that I read after our visit talk of a language problem here - maybe so and that extends to their coupons.

Will I go back? With the MSG issue here I don't think so. Yes, the food is tasty. I was able to find things that I liked but the headache was not worth it - especailly when less than a half mile away is Flaming Grill with a a larger buffet, better quality food, and almost the same price (especailly with a coupon which are put out in local papers and mailings often - and no headache.  If you don't react to MSG then maybe you might like this buffet. There are things here though to be careful about - especially any raw seafood.

Island Buffet is located at 1874 Grand Ave., Baldwin, NY 11510 and their phone number is 516-868-2888. There is a website and that is listed in the right column of this page.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Back again to Global Buffet, Levittown, NY

This is a follow up to the several other articles that I have written about this buffet and since it is local, it is only fair to keep this up to date, especailly when things are positive. We went back to Global. We have been back a couple of times since the last article and this last visit was the most positive.

This was a Sunday night. The meal was pleasant.  I focused on this as an Asian buffet rather than try to get it to be more than that - even though there is the American meat carvings and a few non-Asian dishes and a taco bar. On two Sunday visits including this one there was lobster in ginger sauce. This was whole lobsters in the shell cut up into small chunks - and on this visit they even cut up the claws which made them much easier to get good pieces of lobster meat out of. What surprised me most - give that this is Long Island and is notorious for huge crowds descending on lobster trays as they are put out at Asian buffets leaving the tray empty almost as soon as it enters the steam table - was that there was none of that. I went up twice to a near full lobster tray and helped myself to several nice chunks of lobster. There is no price increase on Sundays or the weekend and there has not always been lobster here - so if you go, don't automatically expect lobster. Things seem to change a lot here as to what is put out.

There is a section next to the sushi bar of oriental salads and there were some interesting salads there to try. There was a beansprout salad and another salad that might have been artificial crab shredded in a cold white sauce that was more than just mayonnaise and it was tasty.

MeiFun noddles with shrimp was good. The fried rice is decent. The lo mein is OK.  Italian sausages sliced in half length wise and grilled with peppers and Onions was OK. I tried the turkey again, and it was much more like turkey should taste - the turkey gravy is thin and could be thicker. It is a turkey breast. I tried a short rib but there was not much meat on it and whatever the sauce they have on it is, takes away from the short rib. So I went back to the Asian dishes. There was a whole crab shell stuffed with a breadcrumb mixture and crab. That was OK.

There are still inconsistencies here. The stuffed baked clams that they used to have are now changed - and that is too bad because the Italian style baked clams that they had were good. I did not try the new ones - it looked as if there was cheese on top of them. There had been pulled pork on the taco bar which made for a good dish just on its own, has been gone for the last visits. Taco meat is now just chopped beef that looks dry. I took Pepper Steak which is a basic Chinese restaurant and buffet dish and it is never spicy - here it is hot and spicy. Maybe you like hot and spicy, but I don't expect Pepper Steak to be that way.  Labeling could be better also - what had a sign over it as Beef Stew was Curry Beef. The actual Beef Stew had a sign over it that it was clams. Definitely not clams.

They seem better at putting things out as the trays empty. They need to pay attention to what the signs say above where they are putting them out.

The soft serve ice cream here is very good - much better than many buffets - regardless of the type of buffet. The ice cream is cream and not icy at all. We top apple strudel with the soft serve ice cream and that makes a good desert - though they have a number of other desserts here.

The women who wait on the tables have always been excellent. They make an effort to keep coming over and cleaning away plates and offering refills on drinks. They are all very polite and welcoming.

Will we go back now? More likely that we would have before. As long as it remains as it is right now - and they don't slip back - and/or they don't raise the prices. I have wondered how set their $14.99 price is going to be, especially if they are throwing in lobster every so often. The $14.99 price is just right for this buffet. A higher price would keep people away. And they are not coming in droves now. Don't expect the crowds that once were here for Old Country Buffet. We were commenting on that to each other as we were leaving the buffet. Those coming here are very different from those who came here when this was OCB. There are more older people coming here and some families. Another Asian buffet that we go to on some Sunday nights is generally jammed with a wait for a table - and that is a large buffet. Not here, but that buffet is priced a dollar lower on weekends and two dollars lower on Monday to Friday. Here the price is the same every day for dinner, less for lunch.  There are coupons here in local newspapers and coupon mailers for two dollars off each person up to 10 at a table. Of course, the other buffet also has coupons with $1.50 off their lower prices.

At this point everyone is going to have to decide for themselves. I don't know if there are still off nights. So far we have been happy twice in the recent past. I can't say that about before that.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Three Times Prime Rib

We were in Lancaster, PA for a Fall trip and, of course, every night was a buffet - actually every night was at one of the top buffets for the past year. It just so happened that the nights we went to Yoder's, Shady Maple, and Dutch-Way/Gap Prime Rib was the feature for that night. Prime Rib can vary a lot at buffet restaurants and at these three there were differences. There are times that I prefer Prime Rib to steak - if the Prime Rib is good.  Given a choice between a bone in slice and a slice with no rib bone, I prefer the bone in slice but I have never come across a buffet restaurant that serves a bone in Prime Rib.

We first went to Yoder's Restaurant - Tuesday is Prime Rib night there. Yoder's Prime Rib is carved at the grill and they will try to accommodate your request for rare, medium, well done. While I was up at the grill someone before me had wanted theirs very well done and they had that piece on the grill top for extra cooking. I wanted mine rare - no surprise to our regular readers - and the carver cut into the Prime Rib at a spot where the meat was rare - red rare - and sliced me off a nice slice. The outside of the Prime Rib was a herb rub without any type of sauce added. The meat was very tender. It did need a little salt to bring out the flavor but that was fine. There was very little fat in the meat and even less grizzle. Later in the meal I went back for a second slice and this time the carver was different and she carved a very thick piece - thicker than I really wanted given the point in the meal I was at - but she cut a generous slice. This time the meat was not as rare as the first but again the meat was very tender. Both slices were very tasty - even though the first needed a little salt added.

Wednesday night is Prime Rib night at Shady Maple Smorgasbord. It surprised me how crowded Shady Maple was for mid-week Fall. Prime Rib is carved to order at two of the grill stations at Shady Maple. Here they have different Prime Ribs to carve each done to a different wellness. I saw one carver at a very rare looking Prime Rib and I went over to him for a slice. The slice was generous and this slice of Prime Rib was the most like in appearance to a slice of Prime Rib that one would get in a menu restaurant. At the side of the grill counter was Au Jus gravy to ladle on your meat yourself. There was also ground horseradish to spoon on. There was a large circle of fat at a corner of the slice. The outside of the Prime Rib was black and semi-crispy and the meat was coated with a sauce that tasted like a combination of Worcestershire Sauce and A1 Steak Sauce. This was cooked onto the outside of the Prime Rib. The outside had a distinct flavor because of this. I was given a slice per my request that was red rare. The meat of this Prime Rib was interlaced with grizzle and while eating there was a lot that had to be cut off around what was cut to eat. It was tasty but chewy. It was good enough but because of two nights of Prime Rib for dinner, I did not take a second slice and continued the meal with several of the many other good things that Shady Maple has to offer.

Friday night (and Saturday night - but this was a Friday night) is Prime Rib night at Dutch-Way restaurant in Gap, PA. The Prime Rib here is also carved at the grill. One Prime Rib is out for the carver to serve from, but from past visits I know that if you ask for a piece cooked differently from what is out, they usually have it. I asked for rare, as did the man after me. The carver told me that he had to go and get another Prime Rib that he could cut off rare slices from and he went off. When he came back he had a tray with a Prime Rib in it. He opened a hot draw inside the carving station and picked up the remaining Prime Rib on the cutting board and added that to what was in the tray in the drawer. He pulled out the tray and put it aside - to be brought back into the kitchen when he was done carving my slice and the slice for the other gentleman there. He cut into the middle of this Prime Rib and it was pinkish-red inside. Not as rare as I had hoped for but still rare. Perhaps one might say it was medium-rare, but that is better than well done and dry. This slice had some fat marbled through and just a little grizzle mixed in. The outside of the Prime Rib at Dutch-Way is crispy and also may have been a steak sauce cooked onto the outside. It was tasty, there was little to have to cut around and perhaps if this night was not a night we had to drive back for a three plus hour trip I might have eaten more of the fat than I did. The slice was a good sized slice. Did I go back for another? Well, no but only because on the buffet was Dutch-Way's meatloaf and since I have been good meatloaf craving for awhile, I forgo another slice of Prime Rib for some really good meatloaf.

Of the three buffet restaurants, I found the Prime Rib at Yoders to be the best. It was the most tender by far. It had little waste on the slice and it was tasty. There was no sauced crust on the outside to detract from the taste of the meat. It was also the most satisfying. Yoder's on a Tuesday night is the place to go for all you care to eat Prime Rib along with their other good things on the buffet.

All three buffets are linked at the side of this page.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Golden Corral, Middletown, NY

We are rarely in Upstate New York - this for those who are not familiar with New York is considered anything north or west of Manhattan by those who live in the Metro NY area. We were going to spend the day up along the Hudson for an event we wanted to attend and I started looking for where we might find a buffet - and I was in particular looking for a Golden Corral.  With the conversion to Golden Corrals of some Old Country Buffets, etc. that had closed I knew that there was at least one up in this area. The one that I searched for first was the Golden Corral that opened in a former OCB in Newburgh, New York. I had heard about this in early summer along with the opening of a similar take over location in Connecticut. When I had looked up the reviews for this new Golden Corral in Newburgh, the reviews were not good - in fact they were terrible. When I went back to look now I discovered that this Golden Corral had closed! It was not open a half a year. There was some problem between management at the buffet and the NYS Department of Labor - I don't know the details - and Golden Corral pulled their affiliation and closed the restaurant. So, what else might be near enough to make a detour on the way home worth the drive. What I discovered was that there is a new Golden Corral in Middletown, New York. I did not read any reviews - I wanted to see for myself.

We drove about an hour plus out of our way and in the wrong direction to get there on a Saturday night. It is the most unusual Golden Corral I have ever seen. It is not a free standing building but part of a strip mall in one of the store spaces. At first I thought that it must be another OCB conversion - as it just seemed that way from the outside. As we went through the door there was also an open entrance - no doors to a large and noisy game arcade. Odd! I have since found out that this was not an OCB or any other restaurant before but was built as an add on by the arcade.

As we were parking two very large travel buses were parking in the parking lot near the restaurant. On the outside they had the name of a school in Georgia and they also had the name of a sports team. Oh boy!, I thought. and I commented that I hoped that they were on their way out and ont on their way in. It was about 7:00 pm and they were on their way in.

The area with the cashiers and where a line forms to go into the restaurant were very small. A big crowd here would be out the door. As we were on line one of the coaches from the bus was arranging for the team to come in. Looking at the crowded dining room we wondered where two bus loads of hungry athletes were going to be seated. It turns out there is a private dining room that they came into after we were seated.

The interior of the buffet is the smallest Golden Corral I have seen - which even more led us to thing that this had to have been an OCB. The buffet sections were smaller than usual and abbreviated in what they could hold. There was one section I have not seen before in a Golden Corral and that was an Italian foods section.

Now, this is still during the Smokehouse BBQ feature and it is a weekend night so the price is a dollar more - and for this you are supposed to get the Smoked Turkey (which they had for a while), Smoked Brisket (which they did not have), Pulled Pork BBQ (which they did not have) and several other specials for the feature. None of which they had. OK. So this was a weekend extra cost meal with nothing out that makes it special cost - except the small remains of a smoked turkey - that were pretty much totally gone during the time we were dining.

Because my rare opportunities to get to a Golden Corral now has to make up for no longer having regular buffet dinners weekly at the now gone two OCB locations that were near us, I am looking for particular things. One is steak - and they did have steak. After soup and a small salad, I went right for the steak grill - and did manage to get a piece - not a large piece as I expect to get at a Golden Corral of just about rare steak. The steak was not seasoned and pretty bland. It was also rather tough around the sides. My picky eater wife likes Golden Corral's meatloaf - as do I. She went to where the sign said Meatloaf and found a hot tray of some odd looking meat with some vegetables in a brown gravy or sauce - it was not pot roast - the pot roast was on the other side of the buffet section. This was not meatloaf - and we both were disappointed. This was not late. Something like meatloaf should not have run out - and this was before the sports team had come up to the buffet.  Some of the basics at Golden Corral were also missing which made my wife's choices very limited. She also likes the pulled chicken in gravy - there was no sign of that.

When we got up for the second plate, the fried chicken was gone. I waited awhile for it to come out - it did not come out. No fried chicken. As we were leaving several pieces of fried chicken were finally put out. I went looking for the pulled pork BBQ - a featured dish - and in the place with the sign for Pulled Pork BBQ was another tray of that same odd looking meat with vegetables and gravy. While I was there a man came over also looking for pulled pork and looked at that meat in the tray and asked me what it was - I said, "I have no idea, but it is not pulled pork!" He shrugged and put some on his plate. It did not look much better plated. Trays would empty and never get refilled. I went over to the Italian section and there were fried raviolis. I was interested and took a couple. I almost broke a tooth biting into one of them. It was not fried hard but fried too tough to chew and the edges were hard. So much for that. There was a baked ziti with cheese and that was fair, but nothing I go to Golden Corral for. I went back for another piece of steak and despite a "look" for rare, I was given what would more be described as medium - and this piece was tough and full of grizzle. I like the steak at Golden Corral - this was not it. This was not the thick cuts of steak that Golden Corral usually serves.

There is not much to go on further about in regard to the food. This is not up to Golden Corral standards - if Golden Corral cares about their locations following consistent standards - which seem to vary from location to location.

Service started out being good - and then went downhill and the server did not have a large section to cover. When it was time to refill our soft drinks I had to wait by the table until I saw him and go over to tell him to please bring us refills. When I got back to the table my wife was there and on the table next to our empty cups were two of the large take it with you plastic cups - that cost more than the regular soft drinks. My wife told me that the server brought these and said that they are "out of glasses" and he brought the refills in these. OK - a way around being out of glasses - but "out of glasses?!".   Our two glasses were on the table - no wonder they were out of glasses! In other Golden Corrals the server takes the glasses we have and refills them - either bringing a pitcher of soda to fill them with or taking the glasses to the soda dispenser and bringing them back. Not here. But OK. We had refills - and large ones at that - and the server had a chance to disappear again. So now a short while later we are going back up to find something more to put on our plates - not something that should be a problem at Golden Corral - but it was a problem here. We managed to find something. I went looking again for fried chicken - hoping to salvage something good from this meal. Still no chicken. I took a small slice of pizza that was under cooked - the cheese was not melted and the sauce was cold. I had such hopes after the experience we had just a couple of weeks before at the Golden Corral in New Jersey (see last article). Well, at least the food here was not overly salty - it was pretty much tasteless. Well - while we were up looking for food, when we got back to the table our silverware was gone, our charge receipt - which is all you are given to put on the table - and the server puts his name on the bottom and is to stay out - well that was taken away - but the empty soda glasses remained and the large cups that had been brought - still with plenty of drink still in them were still there. My wife saw this and asked me what happened. I had seen the server when I was getting up from the table and he saw me going over to the buffet - but he decided - I guess - that we had left - but why leave the cups then?  Everything here is beyond understanding.

So - another not good dinner at a Golden Corral. Before writing this article I went to reviews to see what others have had to say and it gets mostly only one or two stars and most say they will never go back. We will likely never be up that way again - so we are not going back. I would love to say that even a bad Golden Corral is better than no Golden Corral at all - but with this one - skip it! Outside in the parking lot there was a Carl's Jr. fast food restaurant - which we were surprised to see as we thought there were none in the North. We kidded driving in that maybe we should go there instead - since it is very rare that we eat on one of those due to location. We should have done that - we would have enjoyed it more and it would have been a lot cheaper.

This Golden Corral - if you care by now - is located at 360 Route 211 E, Middletown, NY 10940. On the way home I hoped that this meal would sit well as it was a long drive through the mountains and no rest areas. It did, but the trip home took a few hours and when I pulled into the driveway I was hungry. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

An Urge for Golden Corral

To start we will go back to August and I had a really big desire to go to Golden Corral for dinner. The nearest Golden Corral is about 70 miles away and requires taking two expensive toll bridges. I figured that between the tolls and the gas, I could just pick a restaurant that I cannot afford and just go there to have dinner, but the urge was specifically for Golden Corral and my wife knew this.

One afternoon while we were having lunch my wife asked if I would like to go to Golden Corral for dinner - despite the gas and tolls and ride. Yes! I really wanted to go and we started out at about 3:30 pm for the Golden Corral in Freehold, New Jersey.  according to the GPS we should be there in one and a half hours. Fine with me! The afternoon was bright and sunny.

I can never get around the idea that "rush hour" here starts that early and we should have been driving opposite to rush hour traffic but from the start we got caught up in heavy traffic.  I decided that until we came to the first bridge we could always just turn around and head back home so we kept going.

We crossed the first bridge and where at that at the point of no return. On the way to the second bridge we heard on the radio about traffic backing up along the route we were taking. I was using a GPS app on my phone that has traffic alerts but never seems to find a way to get one around it. So we continued along the route. Getting to the second bridge - a ride that should take less than twenty minutes took over an hour. The approach to the bridge was bumper to bumper. We moved along slowly and continued on in traffic. Now we were approaching "real" rush hour - it was after five and business were all letting out and the roads were filling even more. The thought of the prize at the end - and having already spent the money on the bridge tolls - kept me driving.

We finally got to the exit that would take us to Route 9 South which is what the Golden Corral is on - eventually. The exit ramp was stopped and cars were bumper to bumper and then the radio traffic report said that there was an accident on the Garden State Parkway which was backing up Route 9. We inched along. It was over a half hour sitting on the exit ramp and we were not getting anywhere.

Eventually we were able to get onto the actual road that much further south the Golden Corral is located on. It too was bumper to bumper and that was compounded by traffic lights. And then there was an alert on the radio. Not traffic this time but weather. There was a severe storm warning and they starting listing where it would hit and when and it would hit hard. There were recommendations to not be outside - take cover - the whole bit - and there we were sitting bumper to bumper and no way really to be able to even turn around and just give up.  I went on because I really did not want to have to come all this way just to give up. It was about 8:00 pm - not when we arrived at the restaurant but when the sky suddenly grew dark and looking at how far more we had to go it would be past 8:30 before we reached Golden Corral. Golden Corral on weekdays closes at 9:00 pm! I said to my wife that there was no point in going any further as we could not make it to the restaurant in time and I asked her to look for someplace to turn around and head back. We had been driving for four and a half hours for a trip that should only take an hour and a half.

We headed back and by the time we were home we had driven six hours. We could have driven one way to Virginia in six hours. By the time we got near home we headed for the Chinese take out that we go to and brought dinner home - no meatloaf, no steak, no Golden Corral.

We move forward now to October - a couple of weeks ago. The urge for Golden Corral was still there. The urge was even stronger. Earlier in the day we decided to try it again. This time we made it! Was the wait worth it? Well...

We have been to the Freehold, New Jersey Golden Corral many times before. It had started out just fair - sometimes poor to fair - and had improved somewhat over time. This is in the middle of their most recent feature - Smokehouse Grill - featuring on the weekends Smoked Brisket and Smoked Turkey and on weeknights pulled pork, baby back ribs, and smoked chicken - those also served on the weekend. This was a weeknight.

Almost everything we took tasted as if someone had taken a salt shaker and dropped its full contents into the pot or the mixing bowl. I was there for steak and  meat loaf. The steak was fine and the grill chef understood what the meaning of rare is and served me a nice rare steak which did satisfy my urge for steak. The meatloaf was more salt loaf. And along with that the mac and cheese, the pulled pieces of chicken in gravy, and the rest of what I tried. My wife was also not happy.  I went over to see the pulled port and what they had out was a tray with dried out pork on the top that below was sitting in a pan of grease. There were three different BBQ sauces to squeeze on. Looking at the grease and the really unappetizing dried out pork, I decided to skip this. I then went to see the baby back ribs and on a carving board next to the grill was a six inch section of dried out ribs with a few bare bones sitting next to this on the board. Forget Roadhouse Grill. It all looked inedible and certainly not anything I was going to take. A second piece of steak - almost cooked right was the rest of my dinner. There was also less out than there usually is here on a weeknight plus there were two and even three trays with the same item. Some trays were filled with rolls that should have had entrees or sides.

There was bread pudding on the dessert bar and there was little else that was not "sugar free" - no pies were left, no cake. My wife decided to take some of the soft serve ice cream which was more ice than cream. It was not late and the restaurant would be open almost an hour after we had finished our dinner.

It was a long hard road for a disappointing meal.

The next article will be about another Golden Corral - one we have never been to before.

Friday, September 15, 2017


What happened?!?

I had not intended to write an article but just make a comment on the last article about our third visit to Global Buffet but it just seemed that it needed to be set apart. We had not intended to dine at Global Buffet on this night but we were heading to another restaurant (we don't just eat at buffets) and realized as we got there that they were closed to host a special event, so we decided to go over to Global Buffet.

My experience, in particular, at this dinner shows that Global Buffet at this point is inconsistent. Because we had not planned to dine at an Asian buffet, I decided that I was going to eat primarily American - which has not been a problem on our past two trips. I had planned on sliced turkey with a few other American dishes.

The turkey as unlike it has been on either of our first two dinners here. It was hard to distinguish this turkey from ham. It is in a serving tray next to the ham - each labeled - and the ham had pineapple slices on it - and the turkey did not - though on the outside and the meat both resembled each other closely. If this was turkey it was a cheap, processed turkey breast - a ball that was roasted - evenly brown/black on the outside - the meat was less white than turkey and more the pink of ham. The flavor was slightly salty - like ham. I would just say that this was another ham put out in the turkey tray - but as I say it was not covered in pineapple slices as the ham was. It was not good at all. There was nothing wrong with it but it was not good.  Even OCB Turkey which was never a great turkey breast was better than this. After the first slice I decided that I had to find something else to complete the meal.

As I was going around the buffet to see what I would eat, I saw that the pork spare ribs looked different - more like I expect Chinese Spare Ribs to look - and still not in thick red sauce - but definitely covered in some type of thin sweet sauce. I took one of those. I also took a small beef rib. The beef ribs were now sitting in a tray with a thin reddish gravy on them - that was not there the last time. I wondered as I saw the spare ribs if they are reading this site and tried to create the ribs I described in our last article that I find better than the ones I had here on the last visit. These, on this night, were not better - and maybe not as good as they had been. The beef rib was better without any sauce on them.

So onward, to the next trip up to the buffet and I went to a tried and true choice from visit one and visit two - beef stew. Oh boy! It looked right. One bite of beef and it was spicy. At best that I can identify the spice I would say the stew sauce was full of curry. In the past few years my stomach has become sensitive to anything that is spicy and I knew if I continued to eat this I was going to have a problem. I tried a piece of potato from the stew - same taste of curry. What did they do? Did they change the recipe? If so, why? One possibility - the beef stew and the chicken curry sit in trays next to each other. Did someone mix the sauce from the curry into the beef stew? There was too strong a taste of spice for it to have been just the curry serving spoon finding its way from one to the other. I went back to look at the beef stew tray. The sauce on the beef stew looked exactly the same as the sauce on the chicken curry. I hope that this was a one time mistake and not an intentional change in recipe because the beef stew had been the best dish here.

Lastly, and minor, I took a slice of pizza which looked good and looked pretty much as the pizza at another Asian buffet that we go to regularly. The cheese was nicely melted on the top, but under that layer of melted cheese was another layer of the same cheese that was not melted at all.

My wife was not as disappointed as I was but she had intended to have the beef stew also and when she found out that it was spicy, she was not going to take it. She eats more general Asian buffet and does not mind the usual pepper steak and chicken with broccoli. She was the one of us who described this meal as inconsistent. 

To the positive, there were stone crab halves that I did not try. They were large and they had nutcrackers next to the serving tray. Global buffet has  started putting discount coupons in the local major newspaper, Newsday and also in one of the mailer discount coupon books. The coupon is for $2 off adult dinner prices up to 10 at the table.

And for the OCB nostalgic about this location, the men's and ladies rooms are in the same location as they were when this was OCB but you will not believe the transformation. They are fancy with fancy plumbing fixtures. There are paper towels and hand dryers. And they are clean. Seems that everyone who walks into these has the same reaction - wow, are these so much better than they were!

I really want this restaurant to succeed. I want to go and have a nice "international" meal at a good price. They maybe still have to break themselves in more, but right now it is inconsistent. Inconsistent is not good.  We will go back - but things will have to go back to where it was a week ago and what should not be spicy must not be spicy, if we will go back after the next try.


We went back a week later. The turkey was a little better - at least it was white and looked more like turkey. It is cheap turkey roll/turkey breast. At least it was edible. The beef stew was moved away from the the curry chicken - that is behind the beef stew and two trays over now. The beef stew was now edible and no longer was spicy or tasted like curry. 

I tried the hibachi bar. I added what looked like a steak to my plate of vegetables. When I took the steak I had second thoughts. it was grey, lacking in any marbling, and was frozen solid - the frozen part did not bother me any. It was good and I brought it back to the table. I cut a piece of "steak" off and tried to eat it. I could not chew it. It actually was like rubber. I tried cutting pieces off in various parts of the meat. None would chew. Each came back out of my mouth and on to the plate. I ate the vegetables which were fine.

My wife has been eating the pepper steak here - from the buffet table - since we started coming here. She took a bite at this meal and said it was so spicy that it was burning her mouth. She said it has never been like that before - and I, too,  have had it here before and no, it was never spicy. I asked her what tray was it next to. We went to look. It was right next to Hot Pepper Chicken - a very hot and spicy dish. So just like the beef stew the last time, either the serving spoon or something from the Hot Pepper Chicken went into the Pepper Steak! This is very serious. If one were allergic to something in that other tray  - and ate the pepper steak they could be in serious trouble!

Inconsistent is still the best way to describe this buffet! Each visit there have been surprises and only on our second visit were the surprises not unpleasant. I cannot recommend this buffet to anyone at this point until they get their act together! 


Saturday, September 09, 2017

Global Buffet, Levittown, NY - SECOND VISIT

We went back to Global Buffet. (See our first article about this buffet.) They have made some positive changes in the past two weeks since they opened.

Either they read our article or someone there was told or realized that their steam tables were set at too low a temperature, but now the temperature of the food is correct. Nothing was cold or just warm. Everything that needs to be hot was properly hot.

When we were there the first time, we overheard someone ask the manager why there was no Egg Drop Soup. There is now Egg Drop Soup. The soups section has changed. Gone is the so-so chicken noodle soup and also the soup that was unidentifiable in the serving pot. The soups now are WonTon Soup, Egg Drop Soup, Hot and Sour Soup, Miso Soup, and Clam Soup. They have also added in one of the spaces for a soup pot server, steamed Dim Sum filled with meat. I tried the WonTon Soup. It was good. I don't know if it was just chance but the wonton was the largest wonton that i have ever had. When I walked past later it may have just been chance as what I saw was standard sized. There is not much to do with wonton soup to make one different than another. The broth was better than most.

There was an additional meat on the American meat carving section. They added large beef ribs. They are big and long ribs with a lot of meet. The meet is stringy but that is how beef ribs are. They do not have a light sauce on them based on what was in the pan they are served in, but this did not add any different flavor to them. They were pretty good. Now, I know what some are going to think - just like OCB's long gone beef ribs - not really. These are cooked more like short ribs than OCB's beef ribs were - but they are something you rarely see anymore - and don't see at a buffet. In this section, they have made a place for the turkey gravy to sit in the steam table and it was kept properly hot. The turkey seemed more to be a roasted turkey breast - but it was juicy and good and the gravy makes it better.

My wife found a shrimp dish that she says was not there the last time. It was called Seafood Delight - which in other Asian buffets usually is a mix of shrimp and fish. This was just shrimp and that made her happy. She said it was very good.

I tried more Asian dishes this visit than I did the first - as I was focusing then on the American offerings. The sushi bar was full and there was a tray of large pieces of raw salmon - no rice. They were big and moist - and good. Then there were the usual sushi in addition. Next to the sushi bar there are Asian cold "appetizers" including peanut chicken with noodles. That was good - not spicy and that made it even better. I tried the pepper steak and the beef was not overcooked, a little chewy, but tasty. The sauce did not overwhelm it - as it often does in other Asian buffets. The Spring Rolls are standard - but not over cooked as they are in some other buffets. I tried stuffed fish - a roll of fish stuffed with more fish. It was fine. I tried their spare ribs. The spare ribs are close to Chinese restaurant spare ribs - not covered in sticky red sugar sauce, but just broiled under a hot broiler. Teh spare ribs were good - not as good as the spare ribs at Good Taste Buffer in Commack, NY which I have written about several times in the past that to me have the best Chinese Spare Ribs of any buffet. These at Global are close but not as good. I can only describe the ones at Good Taste as having sizzle - these lack the sizzle. BUT not bad - and better than most.

I did go back to the things I liked the first time - the turkey, the beef stew, and the baked clams. All still good! I even tried a french fry to see how it is - something very basic but not all Asian buffets that serve them do it well. Not much of an achievement but here it was good. 

The ice cream machine is working and the soft serve ice cream was nice and creamy - not at all icy. There were a few different cakes including a chocolate cake with cheesecake on top and a coffee cake. I tried both of those and they were good. I had intended to take the hot apple strudel and took these instead. I was happy I did. My wife took the strudel and liked it.

The service was still good. The Senior price has gone down to $12.99 from $13.99. The adult price stayed the same. An effort was made to keep everything moist and also empty or near empty trays were refilled fairly quickly.

At the end of the meal my wife summed it up - "It's pleasant!". Yes it is. The food is fine. The decor is nice - not at all like it was as OCB. It is funny sitting in there after all of those years sitting in the same space as OCB. We were near the side door and my wife said to me, that we were near where the claw machine was - yes, we were!

They still don't have a web page but they do have a Facebook page. From the Facebook page I saw that they had a special dinner for Labor Day that included lobster and steaks and with on increase in price. There was a negative comment that there was no lobster while they were there - I don't know. I am looking at negative comments about this restaurant in view of what I am seeing for myself - especially now with the improvements I have seen in just two weeks. The restaurant across the street is trying hard to get their business back - which many of us know went down long before this new buffet opened - and I am not sure that some negative comments I have seen have not been planted.

At this point I will say, "Yes! Try it!"***. It is primarily an Asian buffet but it is not hard to sit down and not eat any Asian dishes for the entire meal with the meat carvings and other "American" dishes and sides. You could have corn on the cob, fries, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes and any of the meats out to carve. We have not tried the hibachi grill - it is standard to what most are like. I looked closely at the grill area behind the counter - there is a flat grill and also a char flame grill. I don't know what they make on that grill but it is there. I know many were expecting an OCB like buffet and this is not it. Give it a chance for what it is. I will be going back.

Global Buffet (the and grill seems to not be on any sign now - but the grill is here and open) is located at 3541 Hempstead Tpke, Levittown, NY 11756. Here is the phone number (516) 605-1799. Hours on their Facebook page say they are open 11:00 am to 11:00 pm. Good for a late night dinner or if you are running late and all others have closed for the night.