Sunday, April 30, 2006

Mountain Gate Family Restaurant - Waynesboro, PA and Thurmont, Maryland

The advertising of this restaurant is “When you think of buffet, think of Mountain Gate". The Mountain Gate Family Restaurant has two locations, one in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania and the other in Thurmont, Maryland. I happen to be in Maryland, but dined at the restaurant in Pennsylvania. I dined at the Mountain Gateway in Waynesboro – closer to Hagerstown, Maryland than Thurmont. The restaurant is located on Route 16 east of Rt. I81 at 10530 Buchanan Trail Road in Waynesboro, PA. In Thurmont, Maryland the restaurant is located on Route 15 at 122 Frederick Road. The name of the restaurant comes from rhe “Gateway to the Catoctin Mountains”.

This is a friendly, small family owned restaurant. Let me say immediately, as we drove into the parking lot from the road the first thing that we noticed on the changeable sign in the front of the restaurant = below the name – was a few sayings about praying for our troops and God’s love. Very nice. But understand that this was an introduction to a Christian restaurant – no problem, unless you have concern about the many crosses and little angel statues that decorate the restaurant including a larger cross and a Bible on the fireplace hearth. I have no problem with any of this – I thought that it was very nice. The rooms were all bright and pleasant. Nice décor. Don’t stop reading – there is a lot of reason to come here. Read on.

That said; let’s get on to the restaurant and the food. In one word, excellent. Good price, good value, good food. We went on a Saturday night. There are buffets every night. The food was a mix of Pennsylvania German and American home cooking. The Saturday night price is $11.95 per adult. The price is the same Friday and Sunday. Weekend hours are until 9. There are also lunch and breakfast buffets. Lunch buffet during the week is $6.50 until 3:30pm. Breakfast buffet is $5.50 weekdays (until 11am) and $6.25, Saturday and Sunday (until Noon). Dinner buffets Monday to Thursday are $8.99. Good prices. There are children’s prices. You can also order from a menu. You pay after you dine. Tips are not included. Service is good. Leave a good tip. Beverages are included and brought to you by your waitress.

There are booths and tables. The room that we were in was the banquet room and the tables were folding tables, a little unusual but more than adequate and comfortable. There were two dining areas with booths and there was another dining room at the opposite side of the restaurant. The buffet was in its own room situated in the center of the restaurant. Your silverware and napkins are on the table. You are seated and asked if you would like a menu or are selecting the buffet. Your waitress comes and takes your soft drink order. You are then on your own to go and get whatever you like.

You may start with a choice of two soups. There was vegetable and a crab vegetable. We tried them both and they were very good. I enjoyed the crab soup – real crab meat and good crab taste. Adjacent to the soup was home baked breads – a wide assortment.

There is a salad bar that fills a wall of the buffet room. There are two types of lettuce. There is every topping that you can think of and there is an assortment of prepared salads. I made a Caesar salad. You could have made any type of salad. You could skip the greens and enjoyed the prepared salads.

In the center of the buffet room is a double sided long buffet of entrees and vegetables. They claim to have seven vegetables. They do - there was string beans and ham (a local dish), corn, beats, peas, mashed potatoes, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, etc. There were several hot entrees here including fried chicken and what they call slippery pot pie which is actually PA Dutch Chicken Bot Bie = fresh dumpling noodles, chicken, carrots, and potatoes in a thick chicken stock sauce. There was also pork and sauerkraut. All in all, \plenty and kept properly hot and moist. There was also a carving station with THREE meats carved to your order - baked ham, turkey, and roast beef. There was beef and turkey gravy, cranberry sauce, and bread stuffing. There were also corn fritters, This was all home style food, simple and well prepared.

The highlight of this restaurant was the BEST dessert bar that I have ever seen The desserts were laid out on a large double sided buffet server that filled the side of the room. There were also more desserts filling the side wall. Think of a pie and it was there. There were also four sugar free pies. There was a variety of cakes. There were puddings. There was fruit. To top it all off there were 16 flavors of ice cream from a local dairy. Your waitress brought the ice cream to your table. All is fresh baked. I have been to a lot of buffet restaurants and many, many catering hall banquets; I have never seen as large a dessert offering as this. There were pies and cakes that I have never seen before. Three was Reeses pie. There was egg custard pie. There was pumpkin pie in April. They went on and on. For this reason alone this restaurant is an experience not to be missed. While you can order the soup and salad bar on its own, it does not appear that you can order the dessert bar alone –but the dessert bar is worth the price of the buffet.

Service was excellent. It was personal and consistent. The waitress came by many times to make sure that we had all that we needed. She refilled the drinks without our asking. She cleared the dishes as soon as we were through,

Getting to this restaurant seems like it goes on forever, but it is worth the trip. Once off I81 we drove through the town of Waynesboro and seemed to drive forever – actually it is only about 7 miles from I81 – and along the way we picked up the cheapest gas to be found within a hundred miles - $2.89 at a Sheetz station – almost ten cents less a gallon than other stations. This may not be the place for this information, but it the subject of conversation everywhere you go.

Anyway – if you are in northwestern Maryland or south – very central PA go to the Mountain Gate Family Restaurant. I am sure both locations are equally good. There is no website but the phone numbers are Waynesboro 717-765-6772 and Thurmont 301-271-4373. Hours in Thurmont are from 5 am to 10:30 pm, Sunday to Thursday and 5 am – 11 pm, Friday and Saturday. The hours in Waynesboro are 5 am to 10 pm every day.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I have been reading your blog for a while and I have some questions about some foods that you mention. I live in Australia and obviously you have different descriptions for things there.

What is:
Egg drop soup
General Tso's Chicken
Baked Ziti
Little Debbie Cakes
Happy Family.


Robert A said...

Welcome from Down Under!

Ok - Egg Drop Soup - this is a common soup found in US Chinese restaurants - it is on every menu. It is broth with raw egg (not the shell) poured ("dropped") in and swirled around to cook in the soup - very good.

General Tso's Chicken - Another popular US Chinese restaurant dish - this is peices of chicken, breaded and fried and then cooked in a wok with a sweet, syrupy sauce that is very spicy and hot with chile peppers. It is usually sprinkled with seseme seeds. There is a non-spicy version without the peppers called Seseme Chicken.

Baked Ziti - Italian dish - very common in US Italian restaurants - and Italy, actually. This is ziti pasta (tube pasta about three inches long and maybe a quarter or so inch thick) cooked in a casserole dish with ricotta cheese and tomato sauce - baked in the oven with a layer of mozzerella cheese melted on top. Real good.

Little Debbie Cakes - these are snack cakes sold in supermarkets in a box of perhaps 10 - many different types - some chocolate cake with cream in the middle, some vanilla cake rolled with jelly in the center, some are cookies (bisquits). They are very cheap - a dollar or so a box. And very sweet.

Happy Family - this is a Chinese dish that has chicken, shrimp, beef, and pork cooked together in a wok with vegetables with a light brown sauce on it. It is Happy Family because there is something in it to make everyone in the family happy.

I am actually surprised that some of these are not found in Austrailia - especially Baked Ziti and Egg Drop Soup. Let us know if you have other names for any of these menu items.

Also tell us about any buffets that you have been too.

Thanks Sarah so much for reading the blog. Ask about anything.

Your Humble Author,

Anonymous said...

Well, Baked Ziti sounds like Canneloni. Usually filled with spinach and cheese and yes it is yum!

They could have Egg Drop soup but it doesn't sound familiar.

As for buffets, there aren't too many that I am aware of in Australia except for a few Sizzlers that survived the company going bankrupt here in the 90's and recently there was a lady who dropped rat poison into the food on the food bar....

There are buffets in some RSL (like Veterans) Clubs and Rugby Clubs that sound like the Chinese buffets you mention. They usually have Chicken and sweetcorn soup and another sort, all sorts of chinese dishes eg sweet and sour pork, lemon chicken, mixed vegetables, prawn crackers, spring rolls, satay chicken etc then some pasta with sauces, some roast meats then fruit and ice cream and profiteroles, pavlova and cheesecake for dessert.

My favourite 'buffet' at the moment is Greek Yum Cha which are held at Greek restaurants and they bring around all sorts of meze and you can eat as much as you want, but it isn't really a traditional buffet.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I didn't actually think that there were reviews of Mt. Gate. I am a server there and have been for about 2 years. I may be a little partial but I ablsolutly love it there. It is an amazing place to eat. The food is always hot and fresh. The atmosphere is one of the reasons why I love it. I've had other jobs at resaurants and nothing compares to the work environment at Mountain Gate. The managers are friendly and treat the employees very well. A happy employee is a good employee!
Well I just thought that I'd put in my opinion from the perspective of an employee. It is well worth the trip.

Robert A said...

I totally agree - this restaurant is worth the trip. And it still holds, in my opinion, the prize for the best and largest dessert bar in any buffet!

G said...

I saw your blog today for the first time, and was considering writing to you about Mountain Gate. Then I saw that you had reviewed it already, and have the same opinion I do. I ate at their Thurmont, MD location last month, and loved it! I was very hungry after a day of hiking in the beautiful state park close by, and this was a perfect way to end the day.

Robert A said...

There is a second review article that focuses on their fabulous dessert buffet!

Ann said...

Mountain Gate is a fantastic place to eat. The Mountain Gate in Thurmont Maryland is a little bit better than the one in Waynesboro. We live in Waynesboro and go to the one in Turmont on a regular basis. Don't know why the food is better in Thurmont, it is always hotter and seems to be fresher.

Anonymous said...

I went there today. The inside could use some updating as well as a nicer manager. I wanted to adjust our seating so our family could be closer and put the baby in a different spot apparently the manage had a power trip and would not hear of it. He didn't bother to explain. I often wonder where they find the help. Our waitress was good, she didn't say much but did clear our dishes and give us drinks as we needed them. Overall I probably would skip this restaurant as there is a buffet less than 200feet down the road called the Cozy...

Robert A said...

The location that the above commenter went to was the Thurmont (from the reference to the Cozy down the road. I have not been to the Thurmont location yet. I have never had that type of experience at the Waynesboro location - everyone there has been very nice.

Do check out my review of the Cozy Restaurant. It is a very historic location with connections to Camp David. Just search this site for the Cozy Inn.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Mountain Gate is wonderful. Besides all you mentioned, the host gospel singing groups on Thursday nights for a good part of the year. You need to make a reservation, as it is in a separate room, but can usually get in. Some of the musicians are better than others, but they are all fun to listen to. You get a free two-hour concert, just for the price of dinner.

Anonymous said...

I prefer Mountain Gate hands down over Cozy. When I was younger I worked for both and will say after what I've seen I refuse to ever eat at Cozy. Mountain Gate was the cleanest restaurant I had ever worked at. We treat my mom to breakfast every so often and go to the Mountain Gate in Thurmont. The bacon is always delicious and abundant!!!

Anonymous said...

Mt Gate is the greatest! My family has been going for years-way back when Thurmont was the only location. We are closer to Waynesboro and now go there, but both locations are worth the trip. Great food, Christian atmosphere, the owner and managers are so welcoming and you can tell the employees are well taken care of by the way they take of the customers. Never a complaint from this family over many many years. The Gospel music is a plus also. Gift certificates are available and we have given many, they are always a big hit with family and friends.