Monday, November 07, 2005

The Leola Restaurant, Leola, PA

The Leola Restaurant is located on Route 23 in Leola, Pennsylvania – Lancaster County. This has been one of my favorite menu restaurants and when I have gone there it usually has been for lunch. For several years this restaurant was owned by the same family as the Bird in Hand Family Restaurant and was known as the Leola Family Restaurant. Recently the restaurant was sold by that family and bought by a Greek. I have eaten at the restaurant on the menu since the new owner took over and saw no difference. The menu remained the same. The recipes seemed the same. The same buffet seemed to be offered. With the change in ownership another change took place; the restaurant is now opened on Sunday. In an area where none of the local restaurants are open on Sundays, much less Sunday night, this seemed great news. We decided to try the restaurant for dinner – try the buffet and try it on a Sunday night. What a great disappointment!

The Sunday buffet is $10.99. It includes the soup and salad bar, the entrée and side dish bar, and an unlimited beverage. No dessert is included, except fresh fruit salad, jello, canned fruit, and what appeared to be banana pudding on the salad bar. Silverware and one napkin is on your table. Your server brings your drinks.

This is a one rectangular, three sided buffet table. One side has the salads – mixed greens, toppings, a few prepared salads – macaroni and cole slaw, and the dessert items mentioned above. One end is open for entry by staff and the other end has two soups and three breads. The other side is the entrée and side dishes.

This particular Sunday night there was an odd assortment of entrees. There was cold peel and eat shrimp – which was just cool, not cold. There was fried shrimp, fried fish sticks, ham, baked chicken, stuffed chicken, smoked sausage wrapped in bacon (very strange), stuffed peppers, ham, pork and sauerkraut, vegetables, stuffing, noodles, and mashed potatoes.

Everything on the entrée bar was overcooked and sitting in grease (or oil). The ham was overdone and dry. The sausages in bacon were hard and overdone. The baked chicken was sitting in a tray of grease. The mashed potatoes did not seem like they were real mashed potatoes but rather from a mix. The buttered noodles had no taste. The fried shrimp had no taste. The stuffed peppers were just warm and sitting in grease. I did not try the baked chicken for all of the oil or shall we say grease that it was sitting in. I had a hard time finding something to eat that I was enjoying. I tried a piece of corn bread and it tasted like soap powder – someone make a mistake in the mix?

This is not like this restaurant – at least not like it used to be. The only thing that was the same this night was the chicken corn soup – which is the same recipe as when the restaurant was owned by the Bird in Hand Family Restaurant. This recipe is my most favorite soup and I would have had more of it, but when the urn was empty when I went back for a second cup it was replaced with vegetable soup – the other soup was minestrone, so you have to wonder if there were not just two minestrone soups out now.

I was terribly disappointed. I had looked forward to this meal the entire weekend. How sad that this restaurant has come to this. I had eaten lunch here two days ago and was just as happy as I had always been here. Could it be that the Sunday chef is different? Could it be that the new Greek owner wants to create this restaurant that is a favorite of the locals into a diner? This could be. There are refrigerator cases in the front lobby that had always been filled with local-style pies and desserts. This is full of cakes now – just like at the diner. I will go back again for lunch from the menu, but I will not go back for the buffet.

There are limited choices in this area on a Sunday night. There are the chain menu restaurants and there are two local Chinese buffets. Skip the Leola Restaurant, Try one of the others. I am so disappointed!


Anonymous said...

I love how you mention that there was no dessert, but you go on to say there was fresh fruit salad, jello, canned fruit, and banana pudding on the salad bar. Did you go in as the place was closing for the night? The food on the buffet is always good there, you might of got there just as they were preparing to clear the buffet, and the food might of been sitting there for a couple of minutes.

Robert A said...

To the previous comment -

The restaurant was not closing for the night - it was dinner hour. The food at this restaurant is usually good, but this Sunday night - and perhaps all Sunday nights - the food is not up to par. Perhaps the regular chef does not work on Sunday- most locak restaurants in this area are closed on Sundays. No one was clearing the buffet. In fact, NO ONE WAS TENDING THE BUFFET. The food was not sitting there for a couple of minutes. It was dried out or what little was there was sitting in the bottom of the pan in so much oil that it was not edible.

If you read the further article in December 2005 you will see that I wrote again about this restaurant more favorably - but I will not go back on a Sunday night.

I tell it like it is - for the benefit of my readers and potential diners.