Friday, February 17, 2006

Having Valentine's Day Dinner at the Old Country Buffet

I took my wife to dinner to the Old Country Buffet for Valentine's Day. Now, you are thinking, what a romantic - he brings his wife to the OCB for Valentine's Day when there are such good restaurants out there for an evening of love. Well, she did not mind. We don't go in much for the pomp and overexpense of "fancy" restaurants. Believe me, we have been to them - we have been to some of the best. But, when I want to enjoy myself I want basic and comfort. I have some health - eating - concerns and I find that at a buffet I can pick and choose a little of what I like, and then I can eat an enjoyable variety..

We did not go early. We arrived at the restaurant at about 7:45 pm. There was a small line and some confusion about seating. There was no sign, "Wait to be Seated", so it was assumed to seat yourself, but there was a seemingly confused hostess/manager who was sending groups to specific tables - without much thought as to how to fit the groups that were there with the available open tables.

There were advertised promotions for Valentine's Day. There were to be photos taken of couples or families and your would take the photo home with you. Well, the only thing that made this Tuesday night different from all other Tuesday nights were three heart shaped balloons near the cashier. Other than that, nothing. No photographs. No special dishes except for a pink cake where the chocolate cake should have been. What there was, was a crowd bigger than usual for a Tuesday night -with, as usual at the OCB - no pre-planning to deal with a large group. This is a continual problem here on nights that one would expect and anticipate the needs of a larger crowd - school holidays, for example. They never seem to get the idea that more folks will be coming so let's make sure we have more food available and get it out to the buffet tables quickly. Not at the Old Country Buffet. They always seem surprised to have more diners than usual on a "special" day.

The confused hostess seated us a table with no sugar bowl. She then tried to seat a group of six at a table for four next to us. She could have seated us two rows back at an open table and then pushed our table and the next table together to make a table for the six. They decided to move off on their own to find two tables together. Smart move on their part. I had to solve the sugar bowl problem myself by taking one from an empty (YES, I made sure it was EMPTY) table.

Dinner was the usual Tuesday night Italian entrees. They were fine. It is now the Steak and Shrimp every night (but Sunday) and that took the place of the usual assortment of carvings - there was steak and there was ham. In a short while when we were there, suddenly, there was no more steak. It had to be cooked and everyone was turned away with the promise of three minutes - it was more like ten or fifteen minutes (which by then no one came back for it - except me). I should not have bothered because the steak that is made in a broiler is tough and overdone. This is nothing like the steak found in Ryan's or Golden Corral which is flame broiled to order. It is hardly worth the effort. To start the meal I felt like a Caesar salad - but the two trays of that salad were empty. It took almost forty minutes before they were filled again - another example of not keeping up with an anticipated big crowd.

Not just tonight but every night now, OCB has eliminated the taco bar - not that it was much more than tack meat, some shells, maybe some flour tortillas, and melted cheese. It is now gone. When the taco meat was not oozing with grease it was quite tasty. I heard several diners make comments that it was gone. In its place are puddings (as it used to be located at the end of the dessert section). When you had a taste for a taco it used to be good - and the fixings were there on the salad bar and condiments bar to make it good.

So, the next promotion holiday at the OCB is St. Patrick's Day. The green signs proclaim corned beef and cabbage. Nice if you like it. But don't expect much more than a green baleen. And you can expect that they will not anticipate any extra guests so things will run out.


Trish said...

So WHERE is this place? You mention the location of the other restaurants, but not this one.

Robert A said...

This Old Country Buffet is in Levittown, New York. Usually, when I write about OCB, it is the Levittown location.