Saturday, August 20, 2005
Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant
The Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is the home of the Amish people and also the one of the original homes of the smorgasbord, buffet, or all you can eat restaurants in the US. There are probably more buffet restaurants in Lancaster County than any other place with the exception perhaps of Las Vegas. It seems as if almost every restaurant in this region offers an buffet alternative to the menu. One of the nicer of these restaurants is the newly renovated Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant. Yes, Bird-in-Hand is the name of the town.
Located on Rt. 340 in Bird-in-Hand, this restaurant is located in a complex that includes the restaurant, a motel, a bakery across the road, and an adjacent farmers market, all owned and operated by the Smucker Family (no relation to the jelly). The restaurant more than doubled in size in the past year and with the renovation the buffet - which had been one long serving table- has become a large scatter buffet with a soup bar with two soups and chili, a salad bar, a bread and cheese bar, a two sided entree and vegetable bar, a seperate children's bar, and an extensive desert bar.
The price is on the expensive side compared to other local restaurants but it includes unlimited soft drinks and coffee and with that the price comes close to the norm. The price on Monday to Thursday is $13.99 and Friday and Saturday is $14.99. This restaurant like many restaurants in this area that are locally owned is closed on Sunday. Also in this area local restaurants close at 8:00pm. Some serve until 9:00 pm but you must be in before 8:00 = some CLOSE at 8:00. This restaurant will seat you until about 7:45 pm and serves until about 9:00.
They call this the Grand Smorgasbord and it is grand. There is a breakfast smorgasbord, a lunch smorgasbord, and a dinner smorgasbord - and each is different. You can also order the salad bar or the desert bar without the rest.The restaurant opens at 7:00am for breakfast.
The lunch buffet and the dinner buffet have daily special items added to the regularly served fried chicken, dark and white meat turkey, baked fish, a local dish called pork and sauerkraut, real mashed potatoes, noodles, baked dried corn (another local dish), filling (a local stuffing), and an assortment of vegetables. There is also pizza.
On the Friday night that I was recently there the special items included pork ribs, fried clam strips, fried shrimp, and ham loaf (a local meat loaf made with ham). All was good and the trays were refilled right up to closing. The soups were chicken noodle, beef vegetable, and chili. This restaurant makes an exceptionally good local soup called Chicken Corn and thier recipe sets this one above others.
The children's buffet is included with the smorgasbord and adults may partake as well. The food is plainer and kid-friendly - and it is set at a height easy to reach for kids (still follow the rule about kids going up by themselves). On the kid buffet were nachos, hot dogs, some of the items on the larger bar, and others made to a kid's taste.
The desert bar is large and offers a number of local deserts, cakes, pies, puddings, self-serve soft serve ice cream, and slushies. If you are new to the area try the shoo-fly pie. Desert is unlimited.
Drinks are served to your table by a server who was thier with refills before you asked. The servers are attentive - check with you often and clean the dirty plates away before you return to the table.
Over all there are no complaints. The food is good. The service is good. The room is pleasant. Expect to wait from ten to thirty minutes in tourist season - which covers both the summer and pre-Christmas (there is a lot of outlet shopping in this area).
The restaurant is frequented by locals and the Amish (don't stare), as well as the tourist crowd. There are bus groups at times, but there are several dining rooms and plenty of room. The restaurant only takes Visa and MasterCard. There is a small gift shop in the lobby. There is a link to the restaurant and the complex in the links section at the side of the page.
at 4:40 AM