Friday, October 13, 2006

Steakhouse Special at Old Country Buffet

Tonight we decided to try the new "Steakhouse" special at Old Country Buffet. The special menu is served from Thursday through Saturday nights. As many of OCB's special menus are, this one is disappointing.

The menu introduces several new items to the buffet. There are two types of "Steakhouse" steaks - garlic mushroom and peppercorn. There is rotissarie-"style" chicken. There is peel and eat shrimp. There is butterfly shrimp, and there is a "blooming" onion.

In actuality the two types of steak are just the same steak that OCB usually serves, fatty and overdone, with two different sauces served on the side. The garlic mushroom sauce is the same mushrooms with garlic that is always served at OCB with their steak. The peppercorn sauce tasted like a mushroom gravy with too much cracked pepper added. It was definitely not the French peppercorn sauce that I have had at restaurants before. Silly me, thinking that Old Country Buffet was actually going to serve steak au poivre.

The rotissarie-style chicken never came near a rotissarie. I guess that is why it is called "rotissarie-style". It was better than the usual OCB baked chicken. It was moister and had a good taste. Had it actually been a rotissarie chicken it would have been even better.

The picture at the door shows a "blooming" onion just like the one at Outback Steakhouse, a whole onion fried and open. The Outback has nothing to worry about. This was no where to be found on the buffet servers. What was there was breaded, fried onion sections and were called "onion chips" on the sign above them. The special sauce shown in the photo was also no where to be found.

The peel and eat shrimp, on first look, had promise. It was located on the salad bar and the shrimp were served in a large dish full of ice. The shrimp were nice sized, cocktail shrimp. Unfortunately, the shrimp mostly sat in the melted ice water and were soaked through with water. They had little taste. There was a serving dish of cocktail sauce next to the dish of shrimp, but it was empty. I asked one of the servers if it could be refilled and I was told that there was no more. This is Friday night - does this mean that tomorrow, at Saturday's dinner, there will be no cocktail sauce. And if there is, where will they get it? And if there is, why was it not put out tonight?

The butterfly shrimp were just small fried shrimp, butterflied and fried. Nothing special.

So overall, don't rush out for the steakhouse special. It is better than Shrimp, Shrimp, Shrimp - but, if they are going to do this - in obvious competiton with the steakhouse steaks now featured at The Golden Corral, why not do it right - serve steak that has in some similarity (other than that it is beef - I hope) to a steak that one would get in a steakhouse.

The Old Country Buffet that I go to most often - because of proximity - is the OCB in Levittown, NY. There is a continued problem at this location that has only to do with poor planning on the part of the management. They frequently run out of things or have long delays in refilling things. They never anticipate what the crowd might be - especially when the day is or is before a school holiday, when more families will go out to eat. A good manager would plan in advance that more needs to be on hand on those days. There is also inconsistency in the cooking at this location. I would think that things are precooked, heat and serve, but they do not seem to be. Some nights they are much more salty than other nights. Tonight was one of those salty nights.

When we arrived at the restaurant this evening we saw two large buses parked outside. With some regrets that we picked the wrong night to come, we went in to find that a college football team from Georgia was having dinner inside. A group this large must have made advanced arrangements - again, this was not planned into the preparation for the evening's business, and there was a lot empty at the buffet tables. They were a nice group of guys - all large and all hungry. The lines were long around the buffet servers. To top it all off, one of the two ice machines (that never have enough ice and are often quickly emptied) has been out of service for a week. So the line at the only ice machine went on and on. Usually the soda is cold on its own, but tonight it was warm out of the spout, perhaps related to the broken ice unit. When the team left things settled down and some (just some) of the trays got refilled. To go to the only other OCB on Long Island I would have to drive 30 miles. Not with gas prices as they still are. It is not so bad that I won't go there, but this location needs improving. So does the overall chain's special menu offerings.


Jennifer R said...

I had a very bad experience in Old Country Buffet in Levittown today. It was 2:00 pm on a Sunday afternoon and the restaurant was very crowded.When I went up to take some food, I noticed that there were several empty serving trays.I asked every employee who walked by, to please bring out food.They looked past me as if they did'nt see me. When I went to the manager, Roberto, he told me that they don't speak English. I said this is an American restaurant, and maybe they should have a few associates who do speak English. Roberto got very nasty and abusive and told me that this is a Spanish speaking restaurant and if I didn't like it,too bad.They don't mind taking Americans money, but we are really not welcomed there.I have never been treated so poorly by a manager.There were a few other customers who were also waiting for food to be brought out, and they heard what he said to me.Everyone standing there was horrified. One couple said they wanted their money back and everyone said they would never come back again.If the manager has no respect for the customers, then the employees won't either. This is the worst restaurant I ever ate in.Then I made the mistake of going into the bathroom. It was filthy, and there were 2 backed up toilets. The smell was unbelievable.There were no paper towels and no soap. This restaurant should be sited by the Board of Health.As far as Roberto goes, he should be fired. He is a terrible representative of this restaurant. If they really don't want Americans in their restaurant, they should reconsider OCB as a business.

Robert A said...

This comment will be incorporated into an article on this site entitled, "What Employees Should Not Say". This will be published some time during August 2007.

I hope that Jennifer R reports this incident to Buffets, Inc. Perhaps they will no longer look at the Levittown OCB with blind eyes!