Friday, April 13, 2007

New Feature at Old Country Buffet

Steak and Ribs is the new special feature at the Old Country Buffet and their affiliated chains. This has replaced the last feature - three kinds of fish. The new feature is - you guessed it! Steak andtwo types of ribs. The feature is offered Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights only.

The steak featured is "new". They are calling it "Rancher's Cut". It is top sirloin, one inch hand cut and marinated. This steak, by the way, is being served Monday through Saturday nights replacing the usual (and usually awful) steak that was served. This steak is an improvement over the previous steak. Maybe. It still is broiled under a broiler and not chargrilled as steak is at the other chains. I have mixed reactions and I will tell you why. The first piece that I took was thick, medium rare, mostly tender, juicy, and very tasty. I was really impressed. This was the best steak that I have ever had AT OLD COUNTRY BUFFET. (Far from the best steak that I ever had - but for OCB it was good.) Later, I went back for another piece. This time, it was more done than it should be and more closely resembled the former OCB steak - but a little thicker. It was no where near as good as the first piece. Still later, I tried again- now we were just about back to typical OCB steak - tough, overdone, and not worth finishing - which I didn't.

The ribs are the other stars of this feature. There are two new types of ribs - honey barbecue rib tips and what they are calling just "barbecue spareribs". The honey ribs were small bits of ribs - more bone than meat. They were sweet, but not much else. They were not worth a second try after the first tasting portion. The barbecue spareribs had potential but the ribs are too big - large bones and the meat that has fallen off of the bones more resembles pork roast than ribs. These ribs were better tasting than the honey rib tips, but not what I had hoped for.

Last summer, OCB included Kansas City ribs in their summer barbecue feature. The year before they had baby back ribs. Those both were GOOD ribs. They had good taste and and the meat properly fell off of the bones as you ate them. I was hoping for those ribs again when I saw this new feature. Unfortunately, the new ribs are not even close.

There were other dishes featured with the steak and ribs. There was pulled pork. This needed a good sauce - which it did not have on it. A new sauce was on the condiments bar called Carolina Barbecue Sauce. I have had a variety of barbecue sauces in North Carolina - none of them were like this, so why Carolina, I am not sure. This sauce is honey mustard based. It was ok. The taste kind of grows on you. There was no regular barbecue sauce out - which would have been much better. There was also barbecue beef which, like the pulled pork, is shredded beef in a barbecue glaze. This was ok, but too chewy. There was also barbecue sausage which has always been good at Old County Buffet. I am not sure that the sausage is part of the new feature or it is part of the new Thursday night line up of entrees. I am not sure how it relates but there were also "Italian" meatballs (part of the new feature?) which, as the night went on, were gone and replaced with plain rice (typical OCB replacement - entree with a nothing side dish!). Topping off the new offerings was "honey" corn bread - which looked just like the regular corn bread served with some honey on top. Oh yes, there were also chocolate cupcakes on the dessert bar - which did look good!

So was I impressed with the new feature - not really. I was hopeful because the "summer" barbecue feature has been really good in years past. Perhaps this is not the summer feature but a Spring pre-barbecue season feature. Time will tell. (Probably not.) As I have written, the three fish feature was pretty good. This one is not as good. And despite claims that the regular entrees are still served along with the feature, there was a lack of anything that was not barbecue or beef. My wife who does not really like barbecue and does not eat much beef wound up eating only chicken fajitas from the taco bar. To be fair, they were carving roast beef and ham.

As an aside, a typical OCB occurrence - as we entered the dining room there were three tables with their chairs proped up against the tables. We figured that they were reserving these for a large group coming in. As the night went on several more adjacent tables were set the same way, but no group ever came. Apparently, the person cleaning the tables decided that since these tables were now clean, they were not going to be used again for the night - this was two hours before closing! Management was aware, because we heard staff talking critically about this - but, of course, no one did anything to put these tables back into service.

1 comment:

Robert A said...

Went back again. Skip the steak. It is no better than it ever was - and that is not good. Tough, overdone, and not good.