Tuesday, August 08, 2017


Global Buffet and Grill has not yet opened. The sign is still on the building saying it is "Coming Soon". From outside it is clear that work is continually being done - so we sent scouts out to go there and tell us what could be seen inside.

It is very obvious from what could be seen - it it that was considerable - that this is going to be an Asian buffet - or perhaps a combination Asian and international buffet. The rear wall of the restaurant could be seen fairly well through the windows (though it was very dark inside) and there are large backlit painted or stained glass art pictures lining that wall. Since they are backlit, they could been clearly seen. They seem to be framed in chrome or polished steel.

There seemed to be a lot of polished steel or chrome and/or brass in the decor. The buffet tables are set up and plentiful and they line up in rows front to back taking up about half the main dining room of what once was Old Country Buffet. These were seen from a distance through an open door. It was not possible to see anything of the grill.

This does not seem to be in anyway a "simple" or "everyday" buffet restaurant. From the decor that could be seen, it will be a surprise if this turns out to be what for this location an "affordable" buffet.

As to one of our readers who somehow was convinced that this will be a "Halal"  restaurant - highly unlikely - and in fact - the restaurant this reader came across or found out about is an catering hall/restaurant with the same name - Global Buffet and Grill - that is located in Canada and can be seen with a simple Google search.  This nothing like that - and it is extremely highly unlikely that there is any connection.

To lend more to that, looking up the corporation information on the new to come restaurant in Levittown, the corporate name has been modified to "Master Grill and Global Buffet, Inc.".  When I saw that ("Master Grill") before we knew what the interior is looking like, I was pretty certain that this is a name for an Asian Buffet company.

So - this is all conjecture based on what could be seen in a dimly lit room under construction through partially closed blinds and one half open side door. It is more than we knew before.

I was hopeful that we were getting an affordable "home-style/country" buffet. From what has been seen - it will not be. The one thing we don't need in this area is another Asian buffet. With one directly across the street, another in the next village that went out of business thinking that this area could support an Asian buffet at upscale prices that despite one time great food and even an attempt at lowering prices could not remain in business, and an upscale priced "international" buffet in the town north west of that.  Maybe we all will be surprised. The decor of Flaming Grill in Baldwin is similar in style to this - chandeliers and fancy decor, and is one of the most reasonably priced Asian buffets on Long Island - but they are part of a chain. There is no chain involved here that we can uncover.


Don't hold your breath for a Golden Corral to come to Long Island. The company has emphatically said no - not unless a franchiser wants to put up the money and take the risk. The two new Golden Corrals - Newburgh, NY and West Milford, CT - both in former OCB locations are having problems and we have been advised by readers to not go until they get themselves straightened out.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Top Buffet of 2016 - Shady Maple Smorgasbord, East Earl, PA


The one buffet that has been consistently named as a Top Buffet or Best Buffet is Shady Maple! Whenever we are asked by someone who has never been there or who is going to Lancaster County for the first time and wants to know what buffet they should go to, this is the one that we tell them. The reason is that Shady Maple is an experience. It is likely the largest buffet - maybe one of the largest restaurants in the Country - maybe in the world. This is not like any other restaurant or buffet in this area. Located in the middle of the farm lands and surrounded by farms, the restaurant inside is not what one would expect in this area. It is lavishly decorated. It has crystal chandeliers. It is big. The buffet section runs the length of the large restaurant on one side and you enter in the middle and it spreads down each side with buffet serving tables, flanked in the front by four cooking stations serving more foods.  Some will get the impression that if you go down both sides you will just find the same things - but that is only partially true. Many of the dishes on one side are different dishes on the other. This buffet is overwhelming - in a good way. You can easily eat far too much here - and start to get the idea that it is a challenge! Well, we have covered that idea since this site has started. It is not a challenge - it is an offer and one must need to know when to stop - especially if one plans to save room for dessert.

Each night is a featured food night. Monday is steak night. Tuesday is seafood. Wednesday is Prime Rib. Thursday is BBQ night. Friday and Saturday are a combination of the best - Saturday includes New York Strip Steak, Friday includes Beef Brisket. Prices do vary by night. You are not going to pay the same every night. Prices include local tax and a small service fee for the server so there is no tipping. Your beverage is included in the price of the buffet and you serve yourself your beverages from one of the largest assortment of beverages in any buffet. There is a senior discount. There is a free buffet on your birthday with proof and the purchase of a dinner for someone else.

The food has always been and is excellent. The food is prepared properly and kept at correct temperatures. There is an assortment of soups, an extensive salad bar, more entrees and sides than any other buffet including carving stations and grills. Desserts are coming from Shady Maple's Farm Market - on another part of the property - which is known for their baking. Foods include PA Dutch favorites along with a large variety of "American food".

I have said this before - several times - you can be anywhere in Lancaster and overhear people talking about Shady Maple. I have been in other states and have heard people talking about Shady Maple. When you go you will be with locals, tourists, the Amish, and the Mennonites. Everyone goes to Shady Maple.

During the winter, they have special menu weekends - and when I read what is coming, I am so tempted to battle the weather on a winter trip to get there for these.

We went several times in 2016 (and we have been there already in 2017) just to make sure all is the same and good. Of course it is.

Go hungry. Don't go after having a "big" lunch!

There is no question that this is a top buffet!

Shady Maple Smorgasbord is located at 129 Toddy Drive in East Earl, PA. Take Route 23 East or Route 322 South to get to the restaurant. There is lots of parking (free, of course). The phone numbers are 1-800-238-7363 and 717-354-8222. There is a website and it is listed at the side of this page. Like most other local buffets and restaurants in Lancaster County, Shady Maple is closed on Sundays - and some holidays, but not all. Dinner ends at 8:00 pm.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Top Buffet of 2016 - Bird-In-Hand Restaurant and Smorgasbord, Bird-In-Hand, PA


Bird-In-Hand Restaurant and Smorgasbord has been a well known restaurant and buffet in Lancaster County, PA for a very long time. I have had dinner and lunch there many times over many years. We have watched this buffet grow from a small counter along a wall with hot trays to a completely renovated restaurant with a good sized, dedicated smorgasbord section. The restaurant's building continued to grow to what it is today that includes the restaurant with two full sized dining rooms and on a lower level a theater featuring entertainment and local themed plays. With the theater the restaurant/buffet became part of a dinner theater package (which has not (in our experience) interfered with diners who are there for dinner only. The restaurant is owned and operated by the same family for generations and the property across from the restaurant is the family farm.

As prices have increased in a number of the buffets in this area, the price of this buffet has now come more in line with the others. In the past this buffet has offered sporadically offered coupon savings on the price of the buffet. It now has a coupon included in the Visit Lancaster County Guide which is available free all over Lancaster County - and will be sent to you on request from the tourist board. There is a price difference on Friday and Saturday night dinners which add carvings to the buffet. This buffet definitely gives value for what you pay and what you get.

The food here is excellent. This restaurant offers not only a buffet but also menu dining. One can also just opt for the Soup, Salad, and Bread Bar alone or with a menu item. One can also go just for the Desert Buffet. All is included with the full smorgasbord and the price includes a beverage with unlimited refills which is not included at many buffets in this area. Regular readers have read my raves about my favorite items on this buffet. I love, and have always loved, the Chicken Corn Soup prepared and served here - it is the best anywhere - and different from most. There is a secret to this soup that after many years of attempting to duplicate it at home, I cannot figure out. Another of our favorite items here is there turkey - served in a tray in liquid that keeps both white and dark meat moist and full of flavor. Of course, there is a wide assortment of other foods on the buffet. On some nights there will be a local dish called Chicken Bot Bei or Chicken Pot Pie to the tourists - which is not like a chicken pot pie in other areas. This is one of the better Chicken Bot Bei's which is not served often enough at other buffets. It is regularly here on certain nights. Another Lancaster County favorite - which is served at many PA Dutch buffets - is Pork and Sauerkraut. There are other soup choices and also a salad bar and a large dessert section. Deserts are full of choices and you will find whoopie pies - a local favorite of cake rounds with cream in the middle, a variety of pies including shoofly pie, chocolate shoofly pie - and a pie that I discovered two years ago that I have only seen in this area, Lemon Sponge (wonderful!). There is soft serve ice cream and a frozen soft drink machine. There is fruit and a number of prepared deserts as well!  The baking here comes from the well known Bird-In-Hand Bake Shop which is also owned by this family. The food has been consistently good. That does not mean that you will not find something that you don't care for because you just don't like that food or seasoning, but it does mean that you will enjoy here the foods that you like. 

For the children! There is a children's buffet bar that features kid favorites - hot dogs, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, hamburgers, spaghetti, etc. There this is only available Fridays and Saturdays until 7:30 pm. (The restaurant closes at 8:00 pm.)

If someone at a table does not want the buffet and wants to order of the menu they are welcome here to do that. Some buffets do not allow this. Here they do.

Service is good here. The wait staff are attentive. Dishes are cleared regularly and when it is time for a refill of your beverage, it is easy to spot your table server and ask.

When we come to this area there are so many buffets to choose from. Bird-In-Hand comes to mind often as a top choice to go to. 

One of the things that we like about Bird-In-Hand Restaurant is that you are going to encounter a good number of local people including Amish and Mennonites dining here. Of course, you are going to encounters tourists also - this restaurant is located on a main route - Route 340 - that goes through the heart of Amish and Mennonite farm lands. 

If you have never been this is a must try. If you have not been in awhile go back. If you are a regular then you know what we are talking about.

Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant is located at 2760 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505. The phone number is 1-800-665-8780. There is a website located at the side of this page.The restaurant closes at 8:00 pm and is not open on Sundays. You will not be seated for the Smorgasbord after 7:30 pm.

Friday, May 19, 2017


It is later then usual in getting this post out and I am sorry for that. Things just seem to happen that keep one from doing what they know needs to be done.

I have seen a few articles on restaurant sites with lists of the best buffets. I am sure that many of these buffets are very nice, but the one thing that all of them seem to have in common are big price tags on their buffet meals. As my regular readers know while this site is focused on all types of buffets at all price ranges, we try to keep a focus on buffets that are affordable for a working individual's family - one that you can go out to for a nice nice dinner with a few kids and not feel a pinch in the budget that week. Just because a buffet is inexpensive does not mean it is not a quality place to eat. And when it is not serving quality, I am the one who is going to make that clear right away. In choosing our top buffets we look to those affordable buffets - and not ones that are going to set you back over a hundred dollars for dinner for two.

For a top buffet, a buffet needs to meet certain criteria. The buffet must give excellent value. The buffet must serve quality food. The food must be prepared properly and taste very good to excellent. The restaurant must be managed properly. The service must be good. And all of this must be consistent - meal to meal, visit to visit.Then it must be a buffet that comes to mind to go back to whenever possible. There must be something that sets the buffet apart (in a superior way) to all the rest.

Last year right after our Top Buffets for 2015 article came out, a local buffet named in that article as a Top Buffet raised its prices and changed the quality of the food that they were serving. That buffet has since gone out of business. They lost our business after two visits with these changes. I am sure that  others felt the same way that we did.

This year, our top buffets are all located in the Buffet Capital of the US- Lancaster County. Three of these buffets have been Top Buffets before - and continue to be. One is new to this designation of Top Buffet. The four Top Buffets of 2016 are (listed in random order)  - Yoders Restaurant at Yoder's Country Farm Market in New Holland, PA, Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in Gap, PA, Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl, PA, and - the newest Top Buffet - Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant and Smorgasbord in Bird-In-Hand, PA.

Bird-In-Hand is not a new buffet. It is one of the longest operating buffets in Lancaster County. There have been reasons in the past that has kept this buffet off the top list but after several meals there in 2016, it was a definite must include in the Top Buffets list.

Why are all the buffets in Lancaster? Non-Asian buffets are becoming few and far between. The one place that one can still eat out every night of the week at a different "American Food" or "Regional Food" buffet is Lancaster County, PA!

In the next several weeks we will update our articles about these buffets with Top Buffet of 2016 articles. We will try to keep to our usual schedule of a new article every two weeks on Friday nights posted at night. 

Friday, April 07, 2017

A Dissappointing Birthday Dinner At DJ's International Buffet, Garden City, NY

D.J.'s International Buffet is a Long Island, NY buffet that is primarily Asian cuisine. It is one of the higher priced buffets in this area and that dinner price has recently gone up to $20.95 on Monday to Thursday and 27.95 on Friday to Sunday. There are often coupons in the local coupon saver books and mailings but there has not been one in some time. Their website is now calling this D.J.'s Seafood Buffet, but the sign outside still is International Buffet.  We had a birthday dinner to celebrate and not able to go out of state to one of the Lancaster buffets or up to Connecticut to one of the casino buffets, we decided on D.J.'s International Buffet nearby.

Maybe the change of name on the website should have been a clue because this buffet seems to have forgotten the "International" part that it once featured. Now, it is strictly Asian. It was not Asian that I had a taste for this night, but since it has had American and Italian dishes mixed into its Asian menu, we figured there would be enough of an assortment. As a side note, the only buffets in this area now for almost 70 miles are Asian - and getting off the Island to anywhere else means taking two expensive and constantly increasing in cost toll bridges and gas. If you are in this area and want to eat in a buffet it is going to be Asian.

So we went. This was a weeknight. There were a number of tables filled and both dining rooms were needed. Many tables were filled with Asian families. Even with large tables scattered around the second dining room that were empty, a large family came in just after we did and they were seated at a large table located right behind us and added a high chair to the end of the table that came almost up against ours. We both wondered why this group was not sat one table over which was of equal size and with more room all around for they and us to get up and back down from the table. OK.

So, when we got into the restaurant there was another couple waiting for a table and the four of us were taken into the dining room together. Now, as that table was being seated, the woman in the couple left the man and went to the buffet, while he was seated. We were seated behind them - fine - but I was curious as to why she had to run to the buffet before they even got to their table. We settled into our table and then got up to go off to the buffet. As I was heading toward the buffet tables, the woman passes me with a plate filled and overflowing with snow crab legs. As I soon discovered, she has emptied the steam tray of snow crab. This set the way the rest of the nigh went when it came to snow crab. That tray remained empty for almost an hour. It evidently got refilled some time between our third and fourth trip back up to the buffet but with that fourth trip back the tray was empty again - all except one small leg and one claw at the bottom of the hot water in the tray. They were soon gone as well. No other snow crab went into the tray until we were going up for dessert. One of the reasons for the price being what it is here is the hot snow crab legs. I never got any.

The quality of the food here and assortment of dishes is what does set this, now Asian, buffet from the other Asian buffets left here. However, there are problems here that were not here in the past. Some entree dishes that I took were not properly hot in temperature. Some were dried out. Signage at the buffet leaves a lot to be desired - some trays have different items in them with signs identifying them as the same - far from the same. Some items were obviously labeled incorrectly. Some are not labeled at all. At the sushi bar - which is extensive - and if you like sushi this surpasses the rest - except for a Japanese and sushi buffet not far from here that is even more expensive. And I saw something that I have heard about being in some Asian buffets, but never before have I been in one that said this - if you take sushi that has rice and do not eat the rice, you will be charged a surcharge! I can't eat the rice - I like sushi. They do have a platter out just with the raw fish and that is what I took - but there were some interesting looking - yet totally unidentified things on the sushi bar that I might have tried and pushed off the rice. I did not dare.

There was one item at the grill appetizer section that seemed to be a dumpling of some sort. It was a soft round, tan ball. I took one to try. I cut into it and discovered large chunks of octopus. It would have been nice to know this before I took it. A beef dish that should not have been spicy - was spicy.

This is not the first time that we have been here. I have written about it before - the last time in 2015. It was pretty good then - and in the past there have been various unusual things - always clearly identified - that were intriguing to try. Maybe I am Asian buffeted out, but I just had a hard time with what I was going to eat and what I was picking had issues. There was a good steamed halibut in ginger which had the advantage over other steamed fish in other Asian buffets, that this is not a "flat" fish, like flounder - and the section of bones easily separated whole from the fish preventing finding an unwanted sharp bone in your mouth eating the fish. There is fresh mozzarella cheese sliced with tomatoes on the salad bar - the last of the International selections - not counting pizza and mac and cheese which are now standards in most Asian buffets. The cheese is fresh mozzarella.  They also have a nice olive assortment with Greek olives on the salad bar.

There is a sign over the grill area that says ask for a steak from our grill. There was no one around to ask for a steak. There is a section that makes dessert crepes. There was no one around to make crepes when we went up for dessert. In fact, there was no one behind any counter at that point at all. The restaurant is open according to the sign on the door until 10:00 pm and on the blackboard in the lobby the buffet is seated until 9:30 pm. The staff were cleaning behind the grill and sushi areas at 8:00 pm and were gone before 8:30.

So I got no snow crab legs, no steak, and no dessert crepe. When the check came which after tax and tip was over $50 for two (no beverage, just water or the price would have been a lot more), we figured out that had it not been for circumstances that we could get not get out of town, we could have driven to New Jersey (a long drive) and gone to Golden Corral (with the emailed free buffet birthday coupon) - including price of dinner, gas and tolls for less.  We shall keep this in mind from now on.

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, March 25, 2017

OCB Levittown Former Location News

We drove past the former location of Old Country Buffet in Levittown, New York today and there is a change. There is now a sign on the side of the building - and soon to be one on the front of the building. The sign says, "GLOBAL BUFFET".

I have tried to find out about what Global Buffet might be. From the name, I say that this is ANOTHER not needed, Asian buffet which will be in direct competition from another large Asian buffet directly across the street. I have found a Global Buffet that WAS in Oswego, New York. This has closed.  It was a Chinese/Asian buffet with mixed reviews that tended toward the negative - and since it has gone out of business, evidently those who though poorly of it were correct. The other is a chain of buffets in Great Britain - though this is named "JRC Global Buffet". These seem to actually be a combination of world foods including American, British, French, Asian, Thai, Brazilian, and more. That would have possibilities but I doubt that this is what this Global Buffet will be - and their website talks about making reservations SO unless that is something that Eurpeans just expect to be able to do, it will not go over well here with the usual buffet dining crowd.

So now we wait and see. It will not likely be long until we know. This does put to rest any idea that Golden Corral was coming here.  I would so much like to see an American buffet or an actual "international" buffet open that is not Asian based. There are enough Asian buffets near by - and the affordable ones all seem to serve the same things. I have been looking forward to a buffet coming with things like meatloaf, carved turkey, steak - maybe, roast beef, real ribs - maybe, fried chicken... Well, I am not so hopeful anymore.

If I can learn more, I will be back with another article.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Finally a Buffet Dinner Not in an Asian Buffet!

Locally there are now only Asian buffets where we are. I have been craving a meal at what I will call an "American" buffet for about three months. I want meatloaf. I want steak. I want fried chicken! I have thought a few times of just taking the trip across two expensive toll bridges and driving the hour and a half to have dinner in the nearest Golden Corral (the nearest American buffet) several times in the past several weeks. Despite the cold and the snow storms, it seemed almost worth it - but to pay those tolls and then pay for dinner, we could have gone to a non-buffet and ordered meatloaf. Well, it is late February and we have annual business in New Jersey - weather permitting - and we went to Golden Corral!

I really was looking forward to this - even though this particular Golden Corral has not been one of our favorites and it is one of the Golden Corrals that charge more than most others - but I did not care. I needed to eat at a Golden Corral!

It is a Saturday night. Surprisingly warm weather all day. The line - as we have found before at this Golden Corral - was out the door and the length of the building outside. As we got inside on the line a large group that apparently had only a few of their party on the line ahead of us suddenly all arrived and went to join the rest of their party of perhaps twenty five or more at the front of the line. They were polite and apologized so it was fine. We finally got to the cashier. Premium weekend prices were in effect - $14.99 per person and $2.29 each drink. OK! I wanted steak, meatloaf, and fried chicken! My picky eater wife on the other hand was anticipating a hard time finding what she eats as she often does not find at any Golden Corral and with the current weekend feature of seafood, this was not helping as these features often remove some of the basic items on the buffet.

We were seated at an uncomfortable table for two that was stuck out in the aisle with another table for two - and the table had an uneven leg that rocked. One thing we both enjoy at Golden Corral is their chicken soup with thick, doughy noodles! That was first! A full heaping bowl of those noodles and broth with carrots and celery mixed in along with chunks of chicken! It is always good and now it was not wonton soup!

We skipped the salad and went right to the hot buffet. I went directly to the grill for steak. The chef at the grill understood what rare is and when I said "rare!", he picked up a steak, cut into it and saw it was red inside but not raw and cut me off a good chunk! It was charred and crispy outside and red inside - to me an almost perfect steak - only not perfect as there was a good amount of fat inside which is good in moderation. I went next with my plate with the steak looking for the meatloaf. The tray was empty! I eyed the fried chicken and took a breast (I should have taken something smaller). I added an onion ring to the plate, and then some mashed potatoes and gravy and fried okra! I passed my wife walking around with an almost empty plate. OK - there were things for her to eat and it was up to her to decide what she was  going to take. I headed back to the table as did she.

I cut into the steak, red juices ran out! It really was crispy outside and red inside! I took a forkful in my mouth and made a Galloping Gourmet face! (Galloping Gourmet - one of my favorite daytime shows as a kid in the late 60's. He was (is) an international chef from Canada who had his own syndicated show that played here in the US during the late afternoon. I learned to cook watching the Galloping Gourmet - still have two of his cookbooks - and when he bit into something wonderful his face lit up and a smile came across his lips!) I had the steak that I was craving. Thick and juicy and cooked just right. I cut around the excess fat - ate some, left some - but I ate every bit of meat. The chicken was OK. Not great - too big a piece and that was my fault for taking it - and the crust could have been more crispy. I ate most of it. The mashed potatoes were good. The gravy was good. The onion ring complimented the steak nicely!

Next plate. I went straight to the meatloaf. It had been put out again. I put a hunk on my plate. The special feature (that makes the weekend prices cost more) is scallops with garlic on a skewer, two types of fish, two types of shrimp, a honey teriyaki chicken breast, and carved sirloin steak with lemon and rosemary. Another steak to try! I went to the carving counter and the man behind the counter looked at the little piece of steak on the carving board, looked at me, and discarded it. Good! He went to the grill and took a large sirloin steak that looked too under cooked, even to me. He put it on the carving board, looked at it, picked it up and took it back to the grill. He came back with another - this one better done. He reached into a crock with a ladle and filled it with lemon rosemary sauce. He poured that over the top (less you think this steak is marinated in lemon and rosemary - it is not) and moved it around the steak with the ladle. He then cut it into pieces. He took one of the pieces and cut a section off and put it on my plate - it was red inside but now raw - good! I added some large cut fries and a hush puppy to the plate along with a big spoonful of mac and cheese and returned to our table. My wife was there with meatloaf also on her plate. The meatloaf was very good. I go back and forth between meatloaf with brown gravy and meatloaf with tomato gravy or catsup on top. My wife does not like meatloaf with tomato sauce or catsup and likes it with brown gravy. Golden Corral varies how they serve it - on this night it was with brown gravy. That was fine with me and that made my wife happy too. The meatloaf was good! It satisfied that craving well! The lemon rosemary steak was fine but not spectacular. It was rare and good in that respect. I feel that the lemon took away from the taste of the meat that would have been better just left alone - which means just as the steak is ordinarily served here charred on the grill.  The mac and cheese was thick and gooey and wonderful!

Just an aside about the weekend feature. The big feature of the added weekend pricing was that it would include Prime Rib carved at dinner. This is not so any longer - at least not with this feature. They seem to feel that scallops on a skewer brushed with garlic are equivalent to Prime Rib - and even though I have generally liked the Prime Rib that Golden Corral has served - the scallops are not the equivalent. I have read that scallops are expensive recently due to a shortage of them due to the temperatures of the ocean water, and perhaps that is why they replace the Prime Rib with this feature. I don't know. I did not try them. I do not like garlic all over what I eat so I passed. I saw them. There were maybe six or so small scallops on a skewer cooked on a flat griddle. They may have been very good.

Next plate. I did what I generally do at buffets. The third plate is a combination of the things I like best. I went back to the steak grill - "Rare, please!" - and got another piece of steak. I then went back to the meatloaf tray. I saw the pieces were cut very large, so I cut one in half with the serving spatula and took that. An onion ring when on the plate and then I realized that all I had eaten were meat and carbs so I took some string beans - and a small spoon of baked beans (more carbs). This steak was almost as good as the first. The meatloaf just as good. And during this plate the feeling of I have eaten too much meat hit me. I finished it all but knew that this was my last plate of meat for the evening. I can no longer eat as much as I once could. I find that I hit that wall a lot sooner. That is OK - as this site is called - it is not a challenge - and we will be doing more business in New Jersey in a couple of weeks so we will be back for more!

I finished the meal with a bowl of bread pudding. I love Golden Corral's bread pudding. This is something else you don't get in an Asian buffet!

The service was good, but the poor guy was way over worked. Two servers who also buss tables is not enough for a large section of tables. This man was running back and forth and doing his best. When you could get his attention - and that was not his fault - he dropped what he was doing and ran over. And I did not see other tables leaving a tip - a problem at buffets. I always leave the server a tip - unless the service is horrendous. He got a tip!

For the time being craving satisfied. You know OCB is gone - at least from here and none anywhere possible to get to just for dinner - and you don't know what you've got until its gone - to borrow from an old song!

We'll be back!

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Request for an Interview

Every so often we get requests to be interviewed for television stories, news stories, articles, etc.  Those who are looking to put us on film are told that we wish to be anonymous to keep our site honest and allow us the ability to walk into any buffet and have no chance of being recognized, so this means no video - and generally no audio. Those interviews never happen. They want you full face on camera. We don't do that.  When it is a print or web article I am happy to be interviewed through email and that satisfies the author. Recently we had a request from a writer who was doing an article about buffet dining for a financial website. I wondered what buffet dining would have to do with finance - other than from a business prospective of running a buffet, but this was not what he was looking for.  He said he had questions about dining at buffets. Fine. I responded saying that if he emailed me his list of questions I would answer them and email my responses back. What I received was not a list of questions but this -  Give "some "finesse" tips. How do you choose a buffet restaurant? How do you scope out their specialties in advance? ...That sort of thing."

Well, he certainly could have gotten that from reading several of the articles on this site, but I decided that I would give him exactly what he was asking for. As it turned out, little of what I provided him made it to his article - which turned out to be a slide presentation rather than a straight article - though, the presentation was accompanied by the text of each slide. Much of what he wrote was way off the mark of what this site presents - and its finance connection was mostly how to get the most bang from your buck when dining at a buffet.  To us, the idea of eat something because it is expensive is not really a way to get a good buffet experience.

Here is what I wrote for him to use. I am sure it will be a benefit to some of our readers and I am sure that regular readers will see a lot of the what has always been the philosophy of buffet dining on this site.


 The subtitle of my site is "All you can eat is not a Challenge!" (this was mine before it was used by anyone else) and that is the basis of rational eating at a buffet. I have seen people fill a single plate with so many different foods at the same time that there is no way to distinguish anything on the plate other than the top layer that must go four layers of food down. This is no way to eat. One can go back as many times as they wish. We eat in a normal fashion - start with soup, next go up for salad (if we want salad), and then go for a first plate of entrees and side dishes. That first plate at the hot buffet for me will be a sampling plate if it is a buffet that I have never dined at before. I will take a little of the items that appeal to me - maybe just enough for a taste if it is something that I am not sure that I will enjoy. If it is a buffet that I have been to before, I will go to the items that I know that I like and if there is something new take a small sample to try. After that plate the next plate will be those items that I really liked. We tend to set a limit of three plates - you don't want to walk out feeling sick and I have seen this happen way too often with others. Depending on how full I feel before that third plate, that plate is just skipped. We avoid eating bread or rolls. Those just fill you up for no reason. There is a reason why most buffets give you unlimited soft drinks - the liquid and carbonation will fill you up quickly. If it is a hot day, drink as much as you need to, but otherwise drink to enjoy the soft drink as you eat but don't drink just because you can get more - which is the same approach with eating. Just because the food is there, you don't have to keep eating it until you are ready to burst. After the "main course" there is also dessert and the best thing to do after eating all that is to decide on one dessert that you will enjoy the most and take only one. If you feel like another - and your eyes are not bigger than your stomach - take one more - and then stop. This is not your last meal so don't eat like it is. During dinner carry on a conversation with your dinner companions, don't just sit there and eat. It is also only polite when two are dining to wait to go for your next trip to the buffet until your partner is ready to go also. You will not only enjoy the food but you will also enjoy the companionship of dining.

How do we pick a buffet? Price and, if available, a quick look at reviews. If we get there and there is no one inside, we may not go in. The food will not be maintained properly in an empty buffet restaurant. The food trays on a buffet table must be, as I say, kept "tended" at all times. Someone from the restaurant needs to go from tray to tray making sure that nothing is drying out and they need to stir whatever can be stirred. Food that they find that is too dry or no longer appetizing in appearance needs to be removed and discarded. Proper food temperature needs to be maintained as well. Putting out a microwave and telling customers to warm the food themselves is not acceptable. The food should never be cold or cool when it goes from the serving tray to your plate unless it is intended to be eaten cold - and then it needs to be properly cold. I also will not eat raw clams or oysters at a buffet when there is not an employee at the clam/oyster bar shucking the shellfish as they are taken and making sure that the oysters and clams do not sit for any length of time and are not drying out and going bad.

Since the beginning of our site we have grown a list of "Rules of the Buffet". Here is the most recent updated complete list -

These rules say it all. Anyone going to a buffet should read and remember these rules. Buffets should post them at the entrance. None do - though I know a number of buffets have read our site.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Holiday Dinner at Flaming Grill Supreme Buffet, Baldwin, New York

We have been dining fairly regularly at the Flaming Grill Supreme Buffet in Baldwin, New York (Long Island). We have written about this buffet when we first went there when it had recently opened in 2014. It is one of the few decent affordable Asian buffets in this area. We have learned - seeing another of this restaurant in Pennsylvania, that they are part of a chain.

This year they had a "special" dinner for both Christmas Day and also New Year's Day - no reservations necessary and a price only $3 more than their regular Saturday/Sunday dinner price of $12.99 (less one of their regular $1.50 off coupons). For the holidays there were no coupons accepted but they did offer their Senior price. At $15.99 (plus $1.69 for unlimited soft drinks) is the best that can be found in this area on a holiday where holiday buffets offered in non-buffet restaurants start at $50 and go up from there. We went and were happy with what we found.

This buffet included several items not offered at other times - lobster with shell in ginger sauce, cold snow crab legs (small clusters), whole flounder in ginger sauce, and a full roast turkey that you carve yourself. All of their usual buffet items were also there along with the large sushi bar, hibachi grill, the raw oysters and clams, dessert bar and chocolate fountain.

This buffet has changed a little in the past four years on regular nights. Weeknight prices have gone up only a dollar to $11.99. The several dumplings once offered are now down to just fried meat dumplings. There are no longer egg rolls but only spring rolls. Small things that do not really matter as there is still so much.

We had a great meal. The usual problem that takes place at Asian buffets with lobster took place here as well - they bring out a full tray of lobster to a crowd of people waiting like vultures for it to appear and then descend on it and strip it clean in a few minutes. The thing though was that once the dinner time crowd has diminished, the tray of lobster would come out and no one ran for it. I was able to fill my plate several times with good lobster pieces. The roast turkey was very good. As I say it was a whole turkey and it clearly was not the first one that went out that evening. There was a carving knife and fork in the tray with the turkey and it carved off easily. It was very good - no turkey gravy, but, after all, this is an Asian buffet. The crab legs were on ice which means they are hard to get the meat out of the shell, but they were tasty and there was hot butter sauce in a tray on the counter next to them. The flounder in ginger sauce went at first almost as quickly as the lobster, but they kept bringing it out and it was possible to get servings of it with patience.

While we had been there a few nights before for a regular dinner, we found enough different added to the things we generally like to eat here, that we were happy. Service here is good and for a very busy buffet they keep up well with replacing empty trays - with the same item - and keeping everything fresh and at the correct serving temperatures.

We had a nice all you care to eat, holiday meal for little money compared to what this could have cost. I am not sure which other holidays they do this for but if you are in this area and don't want to stay home for Christmas or New Year's Day dinner this is a buffet to consider.

 The Flaming Grill and Supreme Buffet is located at 1773 Grand Avenue, Baldwin, New York 11510. The phone number is 516-544-2222. There is a website and it is listed on the right side column of this page.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Want A Golden Corral Near You?

For many of us the only buffet restaurants left anywhere near us are Asian buffets, and while they are fine, the loss of OCB, Ryan's, or Hometown Buffet has left a large gap in buffet choices in many places. For some that gap is filled by a Golden Corral that was not too far off to go to. For the rest of us - nothing!

Golden Corral's posts on Facebook are often responded to with requests for a Golden Corral to open some time soon nearby. Golden Corral does respond to these with the suggestion to go to their website and contact page and let them know where you want a Golden Corral. To make this easy for our readers to do here is a link that will take you directly to that page. There will be a drop down subject menu and BE SURE to pick this Subject - "I Would Like a Golden Corral In My City"


Golden Corral has announced that they have obtained some OCB, Ryan's and HomeTown closed location to make them Golden Corrals. They are not coming anywhere near us - and I know many in my area who keep asking where to go that OCB is gone. I have no answer - until now that I can share that we all need to let Golden Corral know that there is a lot of business waiting for them here!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Minado Japanese Seafood Buffet, Carle Place, New York

It has been two years since I have written about Minado. Minado is part of a small chain of Japanese seafood buffets located in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. We have only been to the New York location which is in Carle Place on Long Island in New York. This article is based on our very recent visit for dinner on a weeknight.

This is the most expensive buffet that we go to on even a semi-regular basis - and semi-regular in this case means MAYBE once a year.  Dinner Monday to Thursday costs $31.99 and this does not include any beverage. Friday and Saturday dinner and Sunday and Holidays all day the price is $33.95. For two, on a limited budget, this is a buffet for special occasions and we had such an occasion and just went for dinner on a Wednesday night.

The restaurant was crowded - a lot more crowded than we have seen it before except perhaps the first time we went in 2010 when there were several parties going on in the separate party rooms of the restaurant. It is the holiday season, schools are closed and the restaurant was busy with tables of families, couples, and groups of friends. We walked right in and were seated. There was no wait for a table. A waiter came over and when we did not order beverages - either hard or soft - he seemed disappointed - which he should not have been so obvious about. That set me off at the start with concern about him but in the end he was OK.

We started with soup and there are now three chef prepared soups in addition to a few soups out for self-serve. Each of the soups featured different noodles. We like Udon soup and that is what we ordered from the gentleman behind the soup counter. There was also a ramen soup that was made with pork bone broth and another noodle soup. The Udon noodles are taken and put into a basket when you order and dropped into a vat of boiling water to heat and then put in a cup with broth. You then let the chef know what you would like added to the soup from a selection of ingredients including tempura shrimp, seaweed, scallions and more that typically go into Udon soup. I have had this soup in a few Asian buffets and I like the one they make for you here the best.

There is a large selection of sushi of every type. The fish is fresher than any I have had at any other Asian buffet that serves sushi. The tuna is a dark almost red-brown color and tastes better than other tuna sushi that I have had. There is also small dishes of just raw fish put out each with a thick chunk of tuna or salmon and a slice of a white fish with a silver shiny skin. Some with all three. None with all the same fish. I would much prefer having it served on a platter to take the fish that I would like best - salmon and/or tuna but they do not do that. The fish in the little plates was plain with no sauce of any type or marinade - as they once had in the past. And they also once had those platters of fish out to take - but as I say - no more.

There is a long row of Japanese salads all on ice that comes around the buffet and heads back as long as the sushi area which is the length of this large buffet area. Each is well labeled with what it is called and what the ingredients are. You can easily tell if there is something you wish to avoid when you read the signs. There are salads here with raw fish as well as other ingredients. Ever want to try raw beef - there are thin, small slices of raw beef in a marinade here to try.

This all for me is very much a tasting meal. I do not take more than a small quantity of anything that I take here because there is just so much - and I am very tempted by everything. I know from past visits here that I can very easily overeat here and then I am not happy afterwards. I pace myself and make sure not to overload on any one thing.

After the salads, I went for dumplings. There were four. A meat gyoza dumpling, a vegetable gyoza dumping, a shrimp siu mai, and a crab and meat siu mai. All were steamed after pan frying. They were all good! You see what I mean about pacing one's self here in how much you take? We have not yet gotten to the entrees.

There are also cold snow crab leg clusters - large clusters without claws. The problem that I find with cold crab legs is that when you break them open the meat stays stuck in the shell. There are nut crackers on every table to crack shells but even with that, getting the crab meat out of the shell is a struggle. Hot crab legs do not have this problem - until they sit on your plate and get cold - but when eaten hot, the meat will just pull right out of the shell with only needing to break the leg section in half and sliding all of the crab out at once. There are no hot crab legs here. The cold crab legs if you can get out the meat offer a lot of meat that depending on your liking of snow crab may be well worth while.

There are also hot appetizer meats on skewers - charbroiled sliced short ribs, broiled chicken, charbroiled mushrooms with peppers, and more. All good of what I tried.

Now we come to the entrees. There was a large platter of beef with two really large beef bones running through each side. The meat was just falling off the bones and you pulled off what you wanted into your plate. This was good but very fatty. There were many platters of many entrees. I took some of the beef teriyaki that was nicely prepared and had a good steak flavor. I took a split and stuffed, whole, broiled prawn with the head on. This was very good. Often when these are served in Asian buffets you have to fight to open them and get the meat out. Because these were split and stuffed (with imitation crab which was openly identified on the label over the hot tray) the meat came right out. It was good. I took a little of other entrees as well and also some Japanese fried rice and Soba noodles made like Lo Mein. 

With all of this there is an hibachi grill and while hibachi grills are common in Asian buffets, this one cooks one order at a time and does it right as it would be done in a Japanese steak house. It is done with flare and fast knife work and spatula mixing. You can choose steak, chicken, shrimp, scallops, or just vegetables. There is no sweet sauce added. The sauce they mix in is a light brown sauce of the consistency of soy sauce but it was more than soy sauce. Zucchini squash and onions are cooked on the grill along with the meat. Two good size pieces of steak go on the grill. I asked for the steak to be cooked rare and it was. I must remember next time we come here - and that will be in a year - maybe - to ask for a small portion from the hibachi. What comes off the griddle filled the dinner plate - and this was the last thing that I took. It was way too much given what I had already eaten before. It was way too much. 

This brings us to dessert. While the desserts are not lavish, they are different. There are small squares of out cakes - green tea cake, chocolate butter cake, fruit mouse cakes, small cups of Tiramisu, other cakes, jellies (jello like desserts), and cookies. There is also a crepe station - now moved to the end of the dessert counter. The woman behind the crepe griddle makes each to order and fills it to order as you watch. The problem with this now is the location, as the line to the crepe station lines up in front of the dessert bar and it was difficult to get to the cakes unless you were also on line waiting for crepes. We just made our way in to the cakes we wanted to take as crepes after this meal would have been just way over the top - for us. Many were getting them. There is also a cold buffet server of ice with platters of raw fruits - melon, pineapple, oranges, mango, grapes, and more. There was one disappointment for us on this particular night - the soft-serve ice cream machine was not working. A sign apologizing was on the machine. This meant no green tea ice cream which we both look forward to when we come here.

There is plenty here - as you can see - and plenty that is not fish along with a great deal that is. Other than shrimp my picky eater wife does not eat fish or seafood. She has no problem eating as much of a large variety of non-seafood as she cares to eat at this buffet.

The food is good and the food is quality and prepared and served properly. It is worth the money that they charge if you have the money to spend on a single meal. Lunch prices are cheaper. There are some signs that indicate that some selections are not included on the lunch buffet. I do recommend this buffet. As I say we go here for special occasions.

Minado Japanese Seafood Buffet is located at 219 Glen Cove Rd, Carle Place, New York. Their telephone number is 516-294-9541. There is a website and the link is at the side of this page. Hours may always vary from location to location so check on the website before you go. On the website you will find details for all of the locations. The website in the past detailed the menu. It no longer does.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Think Twice...

Just a short article before the holidays!

A popular holiday gift has been a gift certificate or gift redemption card for one of the chain buffet restaurants. I have been getting emails and see Facebook posts from Old Country Buffet, Golden Corral, Sweet Tomatoes. and Bonanza Steakhouse offering gift certificates with a bonus. With OCB it has been Buy a $25 gift certificate and get a bonus $5 gift certificate for yourself. When I saw that I recalled the many people who had received gift certificates for an OCB or a Ryan's or a Hometown buffet this past year and then found themselves with a gift certificate and no longer any restaurant to use it in.

Think twice if you are considering giving an OCB, Ryan's, or Hometown Buffet gift certificate this year. With the way that the restaurants are there one day and gone the next, you may be spending money on a worthless gift. The corporation would not refund the gift certificates when this had taken place before.

And my thoughts go out to all those OCB, etc. employees who thought last Christmas that they would still have a job this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

OCB's New Thing Is Take Out Family Holiday Dinners

It seems like Old Country Buffet is trying something new. You could always go in and take out a Styrofoam container of items you selected yourself from the buffet. Now OCB is trying to get you to come in and buy an entire holiday dinner of your family. With the few locations left, they will try anything...

If it keeps the remaining locations open - it is OK with me!

I would rather have it dining in at an OCB! I always enjoyed holiday dinners at OCB. At one of the local OCBs (there used to be two) there was always a very festive holiday feeling dining at the restaurant on a holiday which was a result of good management, a staff who did not appear to be disgruntled about working on a holiday, and the people who were there with their families to have an nice time!


This promotion is also being offered - same photo - by Furr's Fresh Buffet, a small chain of buffets located in the Southwest US and owned by OCB's new owners, Food Management Partners - from before they bought OCB and the rest of the OCB related buffets. This chain's Facebook page and website shows all recent promotions that have been offered by OCB, Ryan's, and Hometown since the takeover. Evidently Furr's has been rolled into the OCB mix. Furr's Fresh Buffet menus are not like OCB's offerings. The entrees look much better and are better in variety. Furr's website is www.furrs.net .

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Remaining OCBs, Ryan's, and Hometown Buffets

As of today these are the remaining Old Country Buffets, Ryan's and Hometown Buffets. The information comes from the OCB website. The locations map is now hidden in a click on drop down named "MENU". I have to say that like everything else Corporate has done to sabotage their restaurants from succeeding, what a stupid name for a drop down for a restaurant website. Look at this on the page and it appears to be what you click on to see the menu, and if you are not looking to see the serving menu, you would not click here. Surprise! This is where they have hidden the locations link.

There currently are 97 restaurants across the United States. Some states have none, some state have several. California has the most. According to one of the articles sent to us and posted as a common one of our related articles, the original Ryan's location was closed.

Some locations have been scouted by Golden Corral and Golden Corral will be opening in some of those locations, but not all.  Some vacant OCB locations still have their large signs out front on the buildings and these are still lit at night. The OCB location that was once in Levittown, New York has a sign on the door that says, "New Buffet Coming Soon" and under that "Under Construction". There is no clue as to what type of buffet. It would be wonderful if it was an American/Country cuisine buffet similar to OCB and not another Asian Buffet as there is a large, popular Asian buffet directly across the road. We have a number of Asian buffets and various price points, we no longer have any other type of buffet. No Golden Corral, no CiCis, etc.

For me OCB is no more. I would have to travel many, many miles in my state to the remaining two OCBs, or go out of state, again for many miles, to go to one. And then the trip either way would require paying tolls that would more than quadruple the cost of the meal, plus gas.  I have to admit that I miss it. The OCBs here - and then when there was only one - were a regular weekly meal for us. As the song says, "You don't know what you've got 'till its gone!"

If you know of any of these that close, please send us an email or comment and we will remove them from the list. 


Glendale O
Mesa O
Phoenix O


Anaheim H
Bakersfield H
Bell H
Burbank H
Canoga Park H
Chula Vista H
Concord H
Corona H
*Covina H
Downey H
Fairfield H
Fresno H
Fresno #2 H
Garden Grove H
Hayward H
Hemet H
Lakewood H
Loma Linda H
Modesto H
Montebello H
Moreno Valley H
National City H
Newark H
Oxnard H
Palmdale H
Palm Desert H
Rancho Cucamonga H
Redding H
Rialto H
Salinas H
San Diego H

**San Jose  H
Santa Ana H
Santa Clara H
Santa Maria H
Stockton H
Torrance H
Turlock H
Van Nuys H
Visalia H
Westchester H


Colorado Springs C
Denver C


Manchester H


Newark O


Crestview R
Pace R


Athaus R
Commerce R
Rome R
Waycross R


Chicago O
Effingham R
Mount Vernon R


Highland O


Cedar Rapids R


Shawnee R


Bowling Green R


Lake Charles R
Ruston R


South Portland H


Burton O
Kalamazoo O
Saginaw O


Burnsville O


Columbus R
Corinth R
Picayune R

New Jersey

Edison H

New York

Buffalo O
Elmira O

North Carolina

Asheville R
Sylva R


Niles H
Sandusky H
Toledo H


Beaverton H
Medford H
Portland H
Salem H
Springfield H


Hanover R
Harrisburg O
Philadelphia O
Whitehall O
York O

South Carolina

North Myrtle Beach R
Summerville R


Greenville R
Lebanon R
Madison R
Union City R


Conroe R
Waxahachie R


Woodbridge O

Washington (State)

Bellevue O
Kennewick O
Kennewick #2 O
*Lynward O
Puyallup O
Tacoma O
Union Gap O
Vancouver H

West Virginia

Charleston R
Clarksburg R
Princeton R


Eau Claire O
Greenfield O
Jamesville H

* These two restaurants were not on our original list of existing restaurants - and while it seems highly unlikely that two new restaurants have been opened since the closings started - they were not included on the OCB website locations months ago.

** This location was closed for health department concerns but it appears to be still open or coming back as it is still listed as open. 

Friday, November 04, 2016

Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant and Smorgasbord, BIrd-In-Hand, Lancaster County, PA, PA

With Old Country Buffet now long gone from where I live and no other country/American buffets anywhere close to this area, the only buffets that I have gone to have been Asian buffets. While they are fine, no matter what the assortment of foods they serve, they are not the same as a good country-style buffet. I have been going through buffet withdrawal. On a recent trip to Pennsylvania I had a chance to scratch a very bad itch and dine at good Pennsylvania Dutch buffets!

One of those was Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant and Smorgasbord in Bird-In-Hand in the middle of the heart of the "Amish Country". We have been there many times and I have written about it before. It has always been good and the only thing that has kept this buffet as an "always go to" has been the price, which some years varies by the season, but has been at $19.99 per adult for dinner on Monday to Thursday and more on Friday and Saturday. While this is not an exorbitant price for a dinner buffet - especailly considering that this price includes unlimited soft drinks and coffee, which can add as much as almost $3 per person at some buffets - in this locale it tends to be a little higher than prices at other good PA Dutch buffets.  We discovered this past summer that all through 2016 in the Visit Lancaster County tourist guide there has been a coupon for this buffet - "Buy One Adult Smorgasbord and Get One Half Price". This brings a $40 plus tip and tax dinner for two down to $30 plus tip and tax and really that is a great price for this dinner.

I have been coming to his restaurant since before it started serving buffet meals. I remember when they first started to have a very small buffet and then some time ago, they redid the interior of the restaurant and made a very large smorgasbord within the restaurant. Over the years they also have added a theater into the lower level of the building that feature local performances of local themed musical plays and stage shows. One can see the show and have the Smorgasbord or just see the show. I have to admit that we have never seen one of their shows, but have heard very good things from local people who have. The restaurant continues to have a menu and if someone at your table wants to order from the menu while others have the buffet that is OK - as long as there is no sharing with the person ordering from the menu. They also have a special buffet for children with kid-appealing foods on it.

The one thing that I love the most at this buffet is their chicken corn soup which is like no other that I have had anywhere else and is truly the best. It is thickened with a secret that I have not been able to duplicate at home and sets this soup apart from all other chicken corn soups. They have sold a restaurant cookbook in their small gift shop for many years and the chicken corn soup recipe in the book is NOT the recipe for the soup served. That is OK - and when I come I cannot get enough of it. I could just order the soup and salad bar for dinner but, of course, I don't. I order the whole buffet and I do have more than one cup of this soup. This soup is always there on the menu and on the buffet. I had this soup last night and as I write about it my mouth is watering. The sell some of their foods packaged from a refrigerator case in the lobby and I know now, as I thought about then,  that I should have bought a quart of this soup to take home with us.

On Mondays to Thursdays the buffet does not feature any carvings. The Friday and Saturday buffet do. What is on the buffet each night varies some and at one time they would list on their website what was on the buffet each night. They do not do that any longer but there is a calendar up at the cashier that says what will be served what night - and these do change. Some things they always include and one of those is my favorite turkey - served from a buffet tray - one tray of white meat and one tray of dark meat - each kept moist and wet in their own juices. I know that I have written about this turkey here before. I love turkey and this is my favorite. Put a scoop of Amish bread filling on your plate, put this turkey on top and cover it in thick turkey gravy. Mix this together and you have created a dish referred to locally as "Amish Wedding Dinner".  On the buffet also on this night were country sausages, roast beef, fried chicken, chicken "bot bie" (local favorite), chicken in mushroom sauce, chicken and pasta Alfredo, scalloped potatoes and ham, pork and sauerkraut, baked cod, fried butterfly shrimp, and more. All that we had was very good.

There is a salad bar with a nice variety of prepared salads plus lettuce and salad fixings. There has been a meat salad on some nights - ham salad, chicken salad, tuna salad. This night there was turkey salad - good! There is a bread bar with a variety of artisan breads and rolls.

All of the baking comes from the Bird-In-Hand Bake Shop which is also owned and operated by the same family who owns the restaurant - though located further down on Route 340. They have been known for their cakes and pies for many, many years independent of the restaurant. Dessert at the buffet is made up of baked goods from this bakery and there is a very large assortment. It is possible just to order the dessert bar and have your total fill of these wonderful pies and pieces of cake. There are also prepared desserts, fruit, soft serve ice cream and sundae bar, and a frozen soda machine. All are included. You can try shoofly pie or a whoppie pie. They have added a pie that has become a favorite of mine - Lemon Sponge pie. I had never had this before this past year and it is wonderful. It is a thin layer of cake on the top with a lemon custard below in a pie shell - all baked as one. Terrific! Since it is just November, I wanted pumpkin pie and they had it - made with pumpkins grown on their farm using their own recipe. It very much satisfied my desire for pumpkin pie - and that may be the only really good pumpkin pie I get this season.

The service here is very good. The restaurant is very clean. The people who frequent this restaurant are locals, Amish families, Mennonite families, and tourists. The same family - the Smuckers (not the jelly Smuckers) - has owned and operated this restaurant from the beginning. 

We have been going to this buffet more this past year than we have in recent previous years. That coupon has been a great incentive - besides the good food and abundant meal that you get here. Do I recommend this buffet? Yes. Will I go back? Definitely.

It is November and there is no OCB to go to for Thanksgiving dinner. We have been contemplating the four to four and a half hour drive each way to this restaurant through Thanksgiving Day traffic in three states to go here for their special Thanksgiving Grand Smorgasbord. The price is only $29.99 each which for a Thanksgiving buffet of this caliber is very good. Reservations are required and you are making a commitment with payment in advance to come. Seating's are limited and often sell out early.  The problem is that if the weather is bad we would not be able to make the trip. One more reason why moving to this area sounds so good to a buffet maven. 

 Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant is located at 2760 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505. The phone number is 1-800-665-8780. There is a website located at the side of this page.The restaurant closes at 8:00 pm and is not open on Sundays. You will not be seated for the Smorgasbord after 7:30 pm.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Return to Epic Buffet, Hollywood Casino, Grantville, PA

In August 2015 we reported on our visit to the Epic Buffet in the Hollywood Casino which is in Grantville, PA just outside of Hershey. This is a casino and racetrack with table games, slot machines and the racetrack. The casino is off limits to children - naturally - but the buffet is inside the casino and there is no way to the buffet but walking through the casino - so if you are planning to visit with children or anyone under 21, don't make the trip. I had mixed feelings about our dinner there a year ago - this visit I was happier.

We went on a Wednesday night in August and there was racing scheduled that night - not that this impacts on the buffet, but the dining room we were seating in had a television on the wall that showed the races that were in progress on the track. Perhaps this needs repeating as I have said this with other casinos that we have gone to for the buffet - we are not gamblers - we go to dine at the buffet and don't bet. We did enjoy watching the horse races last year and we were looking forward to that again after dinner - and while we don't generally like a television on in any restaurant while we are eating, watching the races that we would have otherwise missed was nice. The price for dinner on Wednesday and Thursday nights is $14.99. The buffet is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Dinner on Friday nights now includes Crab Legs in addition to the Saturday night features of Prime Rib and Seafood. The two nights are priced accordingly with the Friday night dinner now at $32.99 and the Saturday night dinner now $26.99. The Sunday night dinner buffet is $16.99.  Hours are important to take note of - Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday the buffet closes at 8:00 pm. The Saturday and Friday night buffets close at 9:00 pm.  The Wednesday and Thursday price of $14.99 includes beverages - and this is a very good price for a buffet these days. I have paid that much on weekends - PLUS paid for soda - at two Golden Corrals on their weekend "special" at Golden Corrals that have a weekday price of $13.99.

I will not go through all of the dishes on the buffet on this Wednesday night - there was quiet a selection from seafood entrees - both broiled and fried, to Asian, to Continental, to Italian which included "gourmet" type pizzas. The carving was Roast Turkey Breast and this was very good. There was also ham. There was not a great deal of difference from the weekend buffet that we had here a year ago for a lot more money. There was no Prime Rib but I was not impressed with then. Some of the "appetizer" style dishes that were there last year were not there on this Wednesday, so I would say that those go along with the weekend diner. There was no peel and eat shrimp. The salad bar on this trip was very basic - make a salad with a limited number of toppings and not much in the way of prepared salads. The "grape" tomatoes on the salad bar were dried out and not edible. Those were the only thing on the buffet that night that I took objection to.  There are several small pizza's out cut into slices. For some reason there is a need to make pizzas with a very thin crust and this is supposed to make them "gourmet" - this is my description, they were not calling their pizzas that. They were tasty little slices and if you like a cracker like crust you will love these. I am not complaining - we had a good and satisfying dinner

Desserts are just as I had described last year. They are in small portions but that is a plus as you can try several or take more than one of the one you want. There is also fruit and two hot desserts.

It was a fluke that we were in this area on a Wednesday night. I am glad that we were because I am not sure I would have been as happy paying $32.99 had be been there on a Friday night. Will we go back again? Yes. Would I even try it on a Friday night again if that is how our itinerary takes us to this area next year - likely, but I will think twice.

The Epic Buffet at the Hollywood Casino is located at the Penn National Race Course at 777 Hollywood Blvd, Grantville, PA 17028. There is plenty of free parking. The phone number is 717-469-2211. There is a website for the casino and buffet and that is linked at the side of this page. Take note of the hours and days open as noted above. Also - your GPS may not take you to the entrance of the complex. For some reason our GPS sent us to the entrance to the stables on the opposite side of the grounds.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Is Sweet Tomatoes Going the Way of OCB?

Sweet Tomatoes, also know in some areas as Souplantation, is a chain of salad and soup buffets in several parts of the US from California to the East Coast. On Tuesday evening, October 4, 2016 and Wednesday morning, October 5, 2016, the corporation closed all of the Sweet Tomatoes restaurants in the state of Illinois.

Garden Fresh Restaurant Corporation, the owner of Sweet Tomatoes, filed for bankruptcy on Monday. The corporation confirmed that the restaurants in Schaumburg, St. Charles, Waukegan, Lombard, Aurora and Glenview, Illinois are closed for business. The company reports that they plan to restructure, close more restaurants, and put the corporation up for sale. What will remain - for the moment - are approximately 100 restaurants with the Souplantation name that are located in the western US. The corporate headquarters are in San Diego, California. Sales are reported to have dropped by 5.2 million dollars in the last year.

Our source is the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago information source. 
We have also learned that the Sweet Tomatoes restaurant in Forth Worth, Texas, as well as the Irving, Texas location were closed at the same time. The two locations in Jacksonville, Florida were closed.

Nation's Restaurant News also has reported the story and has confirmed with Garden Fresh that locations will close nationwide. The restaurant chain website is still active and still shows locations in Florida and in North Carolina as still in operation. The other states with locations shown are all in the West and and up and down the coast.

I have only been to a Sweet Tomatoes once and that was in Cary, North Carolina. We liked it very much and have always hoped that they would open restaurants further up the East Coast. That hope is now gone.  We are on the restaurant chain's email list and a discount coupon email came this past week.

If any of our readers know of other Sweet Tomatoes or Souplantation closings please contact us with the email link and let us know so that we can inform our readers.  Thank you!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Shady Maple - Lancaster, PA

We don't go to Shady Maple Smorgasbord as often as we used to. Not because it is not as good as it was, but because our trips to that area have been in the middle of tourist season. I cannot fault a buffet for the people who dine there, but when the tourists descend on Shady Maple, it can be overwhelming. And the problem is so many who have not been there before who are there are overwhelmed.

We went on a Monday night in August. We arrived for dinner and found a busy parking lot, but not as much of a line as one might expect when going to Shady Maple. Once past the cashiers, there were the usual two lines to be seated. The one nearest the cash registers leads to the front area of dining booths. We prefer to sit at a table with chairs so we always head to the side. It has been awhile since I have seen the side dining rooms being used but they were busy. The center dining room was full but we were found a table near the front which is what we prefer. But even on line I was surrounded by first timers.  Once at the table we were even more surrounded and once inside the area of the buffet serving tables there was a mass of people who could not get the idea of just not standing in the middle of the aisles, but walking along the serving tables to find what they would like to eat. And these are not kids - these are adults in all age ranges.  I always tell people that Shady Maple is an experience and perhaps this is part of the experience.

There is a lot to eat at Shady Maple - they now say that they have over 200 feet of serving tables which is certainly true but it seems like more. I am not sure if they are including the space around the three grill areas. I understand that this can be overwhelming. What I realized on this visit is that some of the PA Dutch dishes that were on the buffet as standards in the past were not there and this was disappointing. I am there to eat Amish or PA Dutch. The rest is nice too but not what I come to Lancaster for.  We also found that where there had been two sections of four different soups in each of those sections, now had less soups and  their space was now trays of hot wings. I am sure that they are gearing their selections to the types of people who are coming - and in the summer perhaps they feel that this is what their customers are looking for - which I am not looking for. My picky eater wife (remember her?) has been disappointed in the past few visits because she does not like change and some of the dishes that she would go for have been changed. She notes the sliced beef is now chunks of beef in brown gravy, sliced ham that was not topped now has a thick pineapple sauce poured over it, and the slices of turkey breast she insists is now a different turkey.

And then there are the other dinners who are very obviously not locals and who just stop and stare, the ones who stand at the buffet trays and eat what they have put on their plates, and the ones who pile their plates so high that what is under the pile is no longer recognizable. There were two businessmen sitting at the table next to us - from their conversation they had never been there before. It appeared that they were up to the point of their meal for dessert and then one came back with a steak and a plate of food, along with a plate of cake covered in ice cream. I so much wanted to lean over toward their table and say to him, "You do know that you can go back and get more and you don't have to bring it all at the same time?" I just sat quietly and watched. Perhaps steak and ice cream is a good combination. This is not the first time I have seen someone eat the two together at a buffet. They also had to make a big show of handing the woman who was assigned to their table to take their dishes away a large tip. They were upset that the ticket that goes on your table to show it is occupied says "No Tipping". This is not to be unfair to their employees - the tip is included when you pay for your meal going into the buffet. It is shown on your receipt as the tip. I know that as I get older I am getting less and less tolerant of things going on around me - but this type of thing has kept me away from Shady Maple.

Now I am not saying that you should not go. Absolutely go to Shady Maple - but if you can avoid the summer months you will have a more relaxing experience. It is still a top buffet - one of our Top Buffets in 2015 and has been consistently on the Best and Top list for years. The food is very good. The service is very good. The value and quality is still there. There really is no other buffet like it - and I guess that gets around. During the summer I go more to where the locals go with fewer tourists. We went on this occasion because I was missing dining at Shady Maple - and I knew what to expect there on an August night.

Shady Maple Smorgasbord is located at 129 Toddy Drive in East Earl, PA. Take Route 23 East or Route 322 South to get to the restaurant. There is lots of parking (free, of course). The phone numbers are 1-800-238-7363 and 717-354-8222. There is a website and it is listed at the side of this page. Like most other local buffets and restaurants in Lancaster County, Shady Maple is closed on Sundays - and some holidays, but not all. Dinner ends at 8:00 pm.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Grilling a Steak - An Article for the Buffet Grill Chefs

This is an article that will be appreciated by our buffet goer readers and is written for the information of all those buffet cooks that are cooking/grilling steak.  I like steak. I wish that I could afford to go to a great steak house and pay what they want for a "great" steak but somehow I know that it will not be cooked much better than the steaks that I get at buffets for a small fraction of the price. When a buffet has steak on the grill I will try it. More often than not I am disappointed and my disappointment lies in how it was cooked even when it is cooked to order. I suppose that those of you who like their steaks well done are never disappointed. I like my steak rare. I don't mind a steak medium rare. The problem is a steak at many of the buffets will go from raw straight to well done.

Now, the grill chef will often cut the steak when you order it a certain way and look at it and then decide for himself or even show it to you - from a distance so that you cannot really see what he/she is showing you and then plump it down upon your plate. Back at your table you look down at what is going to be a great steak and cut into it and if you ordered that steak rare, you will find totally raw meat inside or a well done steak. A problem contributing to this is that most steaks cooked in buffets are a thickness of 1/4" or less. The one buffet where the steak is a thick steak (which also can contribute to its doneness) is Golden Corral.

Here is what I have experienced lately - in some buffets that are excellent in other ways. I ask for a steak (where you can ask) "rare" and the steak goes down on the grill - whether a flat iron grill or a flame grill -  and sits for half a minute on each side - no iron plate on top - and what you have is a grey outside and totally raw meat inside.  That is how you get it. So the next time you ask for a steak "rare but not raw", and the steak goes down on the grill and after a minute or less, an iron weight goes down on the steak. With a quarter inch thick steak that iron weight is going to multiply the heat going into that steak and turn it to medium well within two minutes - and they leave it there cooking. That steak will be well done by the time it goes onto your plate (or by the time that you get your plate to the table as the heat in the meat keeps cooking it). Where I consistently get steaks with actually raw meat inside, I will try asking for "medium rare" with hopes that raw then goes to actual rare - but no, medium rare translates to medium or well done - the rare part not heard of ignored.

At Golden Corral they also have this problem - even though the steak is an inch thick or more. Rare means raw or rare means grey on the inside. On a few occasions, I actually got a properly cooked rare steak at a Golden Corral. I should add that I pretty consistently got a properly cooked rare steak at one particular Ryan's in Fredericksburg, Virginia (Now Closed) where the grill chefs knew exactly hot to cook a rare steak and got it perfect almost every time. That Ryan's - even though about 500 miles away is very much missed! 

I like my steak crispy - even flame burnt (on a flame grill) - on the outside and red in the center. That is what a rare steak is supposed to be.

Let's look at what the designations are supposed to be - and I actually saw these on a menu once (not at a buffet but also not at a steak house) on how to order your steak.

RARE - cool, red and soft on the inside, crisped on the outside. NOT RAW!

MEDIUM RARE - warm, red, and a little firmer on the inside, crisped on the outside.

MEDIUM - pink on the inside with firm meat and crisped on the outside.

MEDIUM WELL - hot and slightly pink in the very center and crispy on the outside.

WELL - grey/brown completely on the inside and very firm meat with a very crispy outside.

INCINERATED - not a professional term and good steak restaurants will refuse to serve steak this way but it is burnt throughout with a charcoal exterior. (If you are in a charcoal crunchy mood and the steak has a decent amount of fat on it, this is not bad. As I found out when given one like this when it was supposed to be "medium rare" - rather crunchy - but not something you want to eat much of.)

Chefs - if you are working in the position of grill chef, if you are not cooking steaks like these when someone asks for one of these designations, you should not be in that job. Either you don't care or you don't know what you are doing. Unfortunately, sometimes I am sure it is because you just don't care. I know that you want to throw steaks on the grill, cook them through, and stake them up on the side of the grill where they may or may not stay hot and just serve them off from there. At grills where you are to be cooking to order - as some of these buffets state to their customers - then you need to be able to put a steak on when asked for and cook it to properly rare, medium rare or medium. Beyond that is where your pile of steaks fall. I and others are willing to wait. I will stand on the side and not rush you. I just don't want you to forget that my steak is being cooked and requires some of your attention until it is ready to put on my plate. I don't want to be made to feel that my order is not as important as anyone's. I paid the same price coming in.

Now the cuts of meat that are being used is another story all together and even in some of my favorite buffets that serve steak, I have had too many steaks that one cannot chew. I am also certain that you are slicing beef that should be a roast and cooking it as steak - which it is not.  I assume that is a question of economics - and you are not getting even decent cuts of meat. But we will leave that for mention about those buffets in their own articles.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Another Old Country Buffet Set to Close - And Maybe More...

We had a big shock tonight when we arrived at the last remaining Old Country Buffet in downstate New York (there are two others in upstate NY) when we saw a sign on the door that said "New Hours" and then listed breakfast and lunch hours and then said - "No longer doing Dinner hours".  This was computer printed - not from Corporate but from the location. There was a handwritten sign under this that said no dinner after August 8. What? Huh? This was a Sunday night. Inside the restaurant was buzzing with customers. We were there just three nights ago - there were no signs - it was business as usual.

I tried to find out.  "What is going on with no more dinner?" Employees were not talking. I don't know was the response. "I don't know anything." Well, we were able to find out. The restaurant is set to close permanently on September 12, 2016. The employees have been told. Some will lose their jobs now as there is no need for those who worked during dinner. Some of these employees have been working here for 18 years. Everyone will be fired in September. Of course, the problem when it has been announced to employees - which is should and needs to be - that they will soon be losing their jobs, they go off to find new jobs. The dinner cook has quit - and no one wants that job. They have tried and cannot hire anyone. Of course! So as you are reading this the dinner has been discontinued since Monday, August 8. The employees were told the reason is "the economy". What a crock! Golden Corral is booming. The Asian buffets in this area do very well - especailly from Fridays to Sundays. It is easy to blame the economy but we, who have been following what seems to be an intentional dissolution of this company by its new owners since they obtained it less than a year ago. They have been setting these restaurants up to fail all along! It is not the economy. The company has been in bankruptcy three times - though tonight we learned four times. Each due to mismanagement at the corporate level. This company was bought out less than a year ago and claims that they learned after the sale that the company that they bought was in a lawsuit over food poisoning. No corporation buys or takes over another corporation without full investigation by their law team of any and all litigation past and present.

Now - here is some speculation and I have no source for this - it is just a possible scenario for what is happening. There is a Federal Labor Law that says that when a company is going to close (not a location but the whole company) employees must be given X number of days notice that they will be losing their jobs. That X is 50 or 60. (Not sure which.) It is not like whatever name corporate is calling itself now - and I have heard three names for this company used interchangeably - has in its history walked in on the morning that they are closing a restaurant and hang a sign on the door. No notice. A big surprise to all who work there including management.  Now we have an Old Country Buffet that has been given notice of a close date - September 12. The employees have been notified. Could this indicate that all remaining restaurants will be closed on or about that date? I don't know - but it sounds very plausible. How sad!

We are very upset. The employees are VERY upset! You can see it in their faces. Regulars were going up to employees that they have come to know well and were saying goodbye to them. We dine there sometimes twice a week. This was THE ONLY non-Asian buffet for maybe a hundred miles. Maybe more. We have spent several Thanksgiving dinners here - a nice place to go when it is just the two of you and you have people all around you enjoying the holiday along with you. Now that is to be no more. I remember my first meal in an Old Country Buffet so long ago - it was in an OCB in Fredericksburg, VA - gone for some time now - perhaps because of a nearby Ryans - though it was gone before the merger. This was very likely my last meal in an Old Country Buffet - simply because there won't be one to have a meal in. Another loss.

I am going to ask you, Readers, to contact us if you know anything about other OCBs, Ryan's, or Hometown Buffets that have been given notice of closing. Perhaps you are an employee, a manager, or a customer. Let's get this out there. No names will be used in any reports that you share with us. Contact us - not by comment - but by email to artofthebuffet@gmail.com

We also welcome reactions of employees at all levels whose lives are being turned upside down by this company. Use the same email link above. We understand how upset you are but if you leave a comment please do not use any profanity - or we can't approve the comment to go to the article. If you use the email we can put a few *** instead of what is really what you want to say and post all of these comments in an article.

We are so sorry that employees and managers are being treated this way. You are (were) the backbone of the company and you deserve a lot more respect!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Premium Weekends at Golden Corral

Early in 2016 Golden Corral instituted a new "promotional feature" - an increase in price to $13.99 on dinner from Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday all day. This promo actually ended and prices went back to usual but then recently it was brought back.  For the additional cost you get "Prime Rib", teriyaki steak, and fried butterfly shrimp. If you happen to unfortunately be in a Golden Corral that already has a $13.99 dinner price all of the time, your special promotional price is $14.99. On top of these prices you pay for your soft drink at well over $2.00. So your "affordable" buffet dinner with soft drink becomes over $16.50 or $17.50 each.  Add sales tax and tip and you are paying a lot for a dinner for two or more. Does this seem like a feature to promote? It does not to me.

I have been to Golden Corral's twice on a weekend night for this promo and just my luck both were the already $13.99 priced Golden Corrals. I wish that I could say that the addition of Prime Rib makes this "premium" price worth while, but I have to report that what they are presenting as "Prime Rib" is far from it. My first premium meal was at a Golden Corral that has been marginal in my past experiences there and I thought that perhaps it was just at that particular Golden Corral. The Prime Rib there was 90% fat with barely any edible meat on the slice and in between the fat was grizzle. This is not Prime Rib - a poor cut of roast beef perhaps, but not Prime Rib. 

The second Golden Corral that I went to on a weekend night was in a different state. I was hopeful that this experience with the Premium weekend price dinner would be better - it was a better Golden Corral in general and one I had dined in before. I cringed when I paid over $35 at the register for two. I looked at the Prime Rib at the counter and was uncertain if I was even going to try it again. I started with a steak - and steak at many Golden Corrals is done well (depending on who is cooking at the grill). The steak was good. I was going back for another when I decided that I would try the Prime Rib at this Golden Corral. The carver sliced off a thin slice - not much thicker than a slice of roast beef - and put it on my plate. No fat- good sign. When I sat down and went to cut off a piece to eat, it was hard cutting with the steak knife that had no problem shortly before with the thick cut of steak that I just had. I put it in my mouth and I could not chew it. Tough is too mild a term for this meat. I made an attempt but again, it could not be chewed. I tried cutting into another part of the slice - no better. I was able to get a few bits of meat that could be chewed and go down. IT was not tasty and overall again, this was not Prime Rib.

At this Golden Corral I get to try the teriyaki steak.  It was pretty much the regular Golden Corral steak pre-grilled and put out on the buffet server. This particular piece was red rare - just like I like my steak - but others passed it by as not cooked enough. The teriyaki sauce was not overly sweet and the steak was good. Did the teriyaki sauce and not being cooked to order as the regular steaks are justify an additional dollar for the meal?  Of course not.

My wife did have the fried butterfly shrimp - as she was going to try to get our money's worth out of her dinner - and she said that they were OK but no better or different from the fried shrimp served frequently at Old Country Buffet - at the regular dinner price. She was annoyed that several of the usual dishes that she often eats when we are at a Golden Corral were not being served as their place on the buffet now had the Prime Rib, the teriyaki steak, and the fried shrimp.

Overall - Premium Weekends at Golden Corral - big FAIL! As my readers should know by now that I very much like Golden Corral. I look forward to dining at a Golden Corral when I am somewhere near one. They have had some odd promotional features in the past - this one is one of the worst - and that is accentuated by the increase in price for something that is not what it is presented to be. So - Golden Corral, go back to regular price weekends - forget the not quite Prime Rib - move on to a real promotional feature at regular price or just stick with your regular menu as it is really good on its own.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Pie Nobody Seems to Want

For the past three months Old Country Buffet, Ryan's, and Hometowm Buffet, at least all those who are still open, have been trying to sell strawberry pies. This is an odd offer that Corporate has been pushing on the restaurants, sending emails out about it, emailing coupons, and prominently featuring a pie in a glass pie display with a sign on the counter of the cashier. "Take Home a Strawberry Pie! - $9.99"  I have gotten emails with coupons that say - "Buy any adult or senior dinner and take home a Strawberry Pie for $X." I say "$X" because X started out as $8.99, and then another coupon came that said $7.99, and most recently the coupon is for $6.99. At the cashier desk we caught a glimpse of "rules" for the cashier to follow in dealing with customers. One of those "rules" was sell the strawberry pie. Interestingly, we have never been asked to buy a strawberry pie by the cashier.

Now, why do I say this is odd. Certainly other restaurants and buffets have offered their baked goods for sale to take home - those they are well known for, those that customers can't get enough of. Well, the odd thing here is that they don't serve this pie in the restaurant. It has never been on the buffet and customers have never had an opportunity to taste it. When we asked if the pie is on the buffet when we first saw it at an OCB a few months ago, we were told that it would be on the buffet dessert bar in June. June came and went  - no strawberry pie.

You also have to wonder what are they looking to feature with this pie. Their great baking? It is not so great. In fact in all of the OCBs, etc. that I have been in over the years the baking is just fair. Often cakes are dry, baked goods are either over baked or under cooked, and frankly, their baking is nothing to brag about. I have taken and not eaten almost raw corn bread, crunchy stale chocolate cake, and other desserts that were not good at all. Where did they get the idea to sell pies that they don't serve? I wish I knew. But with this Corporation nothing makes sense.

Does the pie look good? I am not sure if what is on display is a real pie. I wonder if it is then at the end of the day what happens to it? It certainly is not cut up and put out on the dessert counter before closing - at least not when I have been there at that time. Is it the same pie sitting there day after day? I hope not, but it does not look like it is not fresh - yet it has sat there from opening to closing - with its dabs of whipped topping around the edge and its strawberries in glaze filling the pie shell. I say whipped topping because what OCB, etc.  put out on the dessert bar as whipped cream is a thickened artificial whipped topping that is not good. This has also shown up on other desserts.

And the price! I know bake goods sell at high prices these days - but I have bought some really excellent pies at bake shops for less than $9.99. I recently bought an exceptionally good Lemon Sponge Pie for $8.00. Selling an untasted Strawberry Pie for $9.99 where the baking is just fair is not a great sales idea. Now, had that pie been out on the buffet and people had a chance to have a slice - and they liked it, this would be different. 

I also have to wonder what happens if someone actually buys a pie. Do they run into the kitchen and start baking a fresh pie? Is it ready when you leave? Are they keeping a stock of pies in the kitchen that never seem to sell? I have never seen anyone buy a pie - and we have been in remaining OCBs since this pie feature has been introduced. Are the pies frozen and sold that way? I don't know. I certainly hope that these pies are not made each day and sit in the kitchen for as long as it takes to sell them - because I doubt they ever sell.

I hope that selling the pies is not a test of which locations they keep open. It would be terrible if not being able to sell these pies meant your restaurant was no the list to go next! Is selling pies no one has ever tasted going to bring the company out of yet another bankruptcy or boost income to the point that restaurants show a profit? I don't think so. It is all just so bizarre!

Here is a clue Ovation Brands or Food Management Partners or Buffets, LLC or whatever you are calling yourselves these days - if you want to sell a pie in a buffet that costs the ridiculous price of $9.99 - put it out on the buffet and let your customers find out that they like it - maybe then you will sell a few pies!

Just as this article was about to publish, it was learned that they have given up on selling the pies. As I suspected, no one bought them. It was said that more time was made in making the display pie each day than it was worth as the pies did not sell. So apparently that display pie every day was the real thing. I wonder who ate it - or after sitting under glass all day it was likely tossed.