Friday, June 02, 2006

Golden Corral - Winchester, Virginia

With the dissappointment of the buffet that we found in Stephens City, Virginia (see last week's article) we headed for the Golden Corral for our next night's dinner. I have reviewed the chain in general - look in the archives of this site in August 2005. I will focus this article on the Golden Corral in Winchester, Virginia.

We went on Sunday night - the night before Memorial Day - and guess what? There were people there - unlike the empty restaurant the night before in Stephens City. There was actually a line to get in. We did not have to wait long and we were through the line to a restaurant that was busy, not overly packed, but a good crowd. So this was where everyone headed when they want buffet in the town of Winchester. The crowd seemed to be a mix of locals and weekenders.

At Golden Corral you pay as you enter and you get a tray with a dish and your beverage. You pick your table (at least here you did - others you are seated by a hostess). When you get to your table a server comes over and introduces him/herself and leaves a card with his/her name on it. The server here is VERY important - much more so than in the other chains, because not only does the server bring your drink refills but also your clean plates. And this is the main problem with the Golden Corral. An attentive server will bring you a stack of plates and keep bringing them. An inattentive server will bring an extra plate each and when he/she notices - if he/she notices that you might need another clean plate brings one - maybe. This was one of those nights that looked promising. He brought a stack of four plates - two for each of us - right at the start, but then getting more was an effort to find him. In fact he came by once and asked if all was good - I looked down at the dirty plates - which he had not picked up for awhile and had to tell him we need some clean plates. They came - but you should not have to ask. I have wondered if this is their way of metering what you take - no clean plate means no trip back to the serving counter. Or perhaps it is just a poor server. This accomplishes nothing as it pushes one to break the rules (my rules) and overload the plate that you have.

On this night perhaps it was the server. When we went for soup (I like soup and the soup here that is good is the chicken noodle - tasty broth with thick, homemade noodles) there were no soup spoons in the container. We went back to the table and looked at the teaspoon - which we would later need for dessert - and decided to ask for soup spoons. We asked our server. At first he was confused - "You mean that there were none up by the soup. They are up by the soup." "No, there were no more there." "Oh." It took a moment. Yes, we want you to find us two - not a hard thing to do. Check in the kitchen at the dishwasher or alert someone who washes things and get two clean soup spoons. Finally, he said that he would go look for some. He never did come back with any - just sought of ignored that we had ever asked. We gave up and used the teaspoons - no big deal, if you don't mind eating ice cream with a spoon used for chicken soup. I gues that is what extra napkins are for.

The food was good. The first peice of steak - they are carving large steaks from a charbroiler right there on the carving station - was ok. Not too tasty and needed steak sauce (a good steak never needs steak sauce). When I went back for another peice the cook carved a peice from a very, very thick steak - almost two and one half or three inches thick. It looked great, but had a liver taste (no, it was not liver). This absolutely needed steak sauce to mask that taste and I did not finish it because of the underflavor.

This was carving night on the special menu. There were not many carvings - turkey, ham, steak, and a cajun sausage that was too spicy to enjoy - hot and spicy lovers would like it. There were many other meat choices on the buffet including baked chicken, meat loaf, fried chicken, and other meats, shrimp, and fish. No complaining that there was not enough to be found.

The pizza is has a flat, cracker-like crust. It is not as good as some found (but not all) at OCB and that found at Ryans. There was no taco bar. There have been at others or perhaps none of them have it any longer. The salad bar is extensive with many prepared salads - chicken salad with large chunks of meat - and a variety of salad greens and toppings. There was a Ceasar salad bar that had Romaine lettuce pre-tossed with dressing with more dressing to take at the side and shredded parmasean cheese and croutons to top it off with. It was very good (but on the salty side).

The dessert bar was good. There were cakes, pies, puddings, and ice cream. The soft serve ice cream is creamy and good.

So when in Winchester and you are looking for a buffet restaurant, head on over to the Golden Corral.

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