Friday, June 22, 2007

Barnhill's Buffet

Continuing my search for small buffet chains around the country I came across another chain that looks great. It is Barnhill's Buffet and they have locations across the "Deep" South. You will find locations in Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Interestingly, other than Florida, they are not in any of the states along the East Coast. The chain is under "new management" and claims to have improved - not knowing about the "old" management I will have to take their word for it.

So what would you expect to find in a buffet chain anchored in the South - real Southern cooking, of course. They feature fried, grilled, and hickory smoked meats along with Southern Style vegetables and casseroles. While Old Country Buffet, Ryans, and Golden Corral tend to center their menus around country cooking - this buffet chain goes several steps further into Southern Cooking.

The main offerings start with a salad and fruit bar. Here you will find salad greens and toppings, prepared salads including tuna, chicken, and seafood as well as the usual macaroni salad and cole slaw. This all is complimented by fresh cut fruits. There is soup on the salad bar as well.

Grilled chicken and catfish are served every day. Some locations offer steak after 4:00pm. And then there are the Southern, hickory smoked favorites being carved such as pork ribs, beef brisket, smoked sausage, turkey, and ham. Then, of course, there has to be golden Southern fried chicken.

There is a vegetable and casserole selection for side dishes including chicken pot pie, macaroni and beef, corn soufflé, and lasagna (Southern-style?). The vegetables include corn, fried okra, limas, candied yams, turnips, as well as the more conventional vegetables.

Desserts here sound great. Cheesecake, strawberry shortcake, hot cobblers, banana pudding, pies, and, of course, ice cream and yogurt with toppings.

Selections of all of the offerings vary daily, but they also have features every weekday night - and a special kid's selection on Saturdays. The Monday night feature is the most unusual of all of the buffet chains. On Monday night, in addition to the usual offerings, you can have Breakfast Buffet! There is an omelet bar, eggs prepared, pancakes, and cinnamon rolls. This sounds so great and different. Usually you have to be an early riser or like to eat a really big breakfast to try the breakfast buffet in most chains. Here it is offered Monday night It is also served at some locations on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The other weeknight features are more or less the usual that you will find. Tuesday night is Taco Tuesday and Kids Night. There are Tex-mex features along with hot dogs, chicken tenders, and mac and cheese. On Wednesday the feature is Southern Style Supper when even more Southern favorites are brought out. Thursday night is Taste of Italy night and there are pasta stations. That is a bit different from the usual buffet Italian offerings. Friday night is, what else, Seafood Extravaganza with shrimp, clam strips, fried oysters, baked fish in several varieties, crayfish, and FROGS LEGS! (Yes, they do taste like chicken.)

The restaurants also do catering. They will do full service catering for an event and they also offer party packs of their menu selections. This also is different for a chain buffet.

The restaurants are open from 10:45 am, seven days a week, until 8:30 pm Sunday – Thursday and until 9:00 pm on Friday and Saturday nights. From Memorial Day through Labor Day they are open until 9:00 pm during the week and on Sundays, and until 9:30 pm on Friday and Saturday nights.

Their website, a link will be found at the side of this site, has special offers including money off coupons. (I love saving money with coupons!) I have not been to a Barnhill's Buffet. My travels has not yet taken me to where there is one located. It really sounds great and I would love to try it - especially on a Monday night!

If any of our readers have eaten at a Barnhill's Buffet please post a comment and tell us all about it. How is the food, the service, the maintenance? As I understand it they are trying hard to be good.


Anonymous said...

Hi -- I'm a reporter doing a story on all-you-can-eat buffets in the Washington, D.C., area. Any local places or people you'd recommend checking out? Please e-mail me at Thank you.

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy said...

I've eaten at several Barnhills buffet restaurants in the South, in Bossier City LA, in Alabama and in Collins, MS. All were very good, really extensive with a lot of choices. I have three kids who can be picky at times but they all found something good to eat at Barnhills. I just wish we had one closer - we live in Missouri.

A buffet chain that we have in Missouri that you might want to check out is Golden Corral, a former steakhouse chain turned buffet (most locations are now buffet only). I actually prefer Ryan's or Barnhills to Golden Corral but it's worth a mention.

An outstanding privately run buffet in vacation central Branson, MO is Grand Country Buffet!

Robert A said...

We know Golden Corral well! Check our archives for articles about Golden Corral.

Anonymous said...

Robert - Have you ever eaten at a Souper Salad all you can eat salad buffe? I coul dnot find any comments in your Blog regarding this chain.

Robert A said...

I am unaware of that chain unless it is the same as Souplantations (which I hope to get to in the next week). Tell us where one is and tell us about it - I will look to see if I can find anything about it.

Robert A said...

Souper Salads - a chain in the southern and western states - there is one in Spartanburg, SC and I will be there at the end of the week - I will look for it!

Anonymous said...

Just ate there tonight. I have 5 kids that sometimes like to go there. Not as good as Golden Corral - not alot of choices - sometimes things dried out, but not a terrible waste either. The staff is extremely friendly.

Anonymous said...

We have enjoyed eating at Barnhill'sfor a few years, but they have moved out of Polk County in Florida. We miss them !!!

Anonymous said...

We ate at the Barnhill's in Gulf Breeze, Florida last Friday night. We were not aware it was "seafood" night. My fiancee' does not like seafood, but we decided to try it anyway, since I love seafood. We were shocked at the price! $27 plus dollars for a buffet. The "seafood" was awful. Nothing they served was warmer than room temperature. Imagine fried oysters (one of my all time favorite foods) at room temperature. Awful... simply awful. The breading used for the various fried items gave them a rancid flavor across the board. Either the purchasing agent has dead taste buds or the rancid flavor was from the oil instead of the breading. The baked potataoes would not melt the butter, making them inedible.
We arrived at about 7 pm, so there was really no excuse for the poor quality, since that should have been prime time for dining. Barnhills does give the consumer an opportunity to rate their performance on a ticket that is inserted into a comments box. I made these same comments and gave the Manager my cell phone number on the form so that I could make sure they understand that quality counts. Of course, the form one fills out is a formality to make customers feel there will be a response, since they did NOT follow up by contacting me. Perhaps Barnhills is an inexpensive place to take children for a meal, but in my book, $27.00 for a buffet is relatively expensive and $27.00 for rancid shrimp and oysters is a crime!

Robert A said...

Wow! $27 for a chain buffet (even seafood) is excessive. And poorly heated food is unacceptable and unsafe. You should have gone to the manager on duty that night and complained.

Robert A said...

Barnhills Buffet chain was purchased by STAR Buffets starting in 2007 and as of 2008 all restaurants in the chain are owned by Star.

I do not know anything about Star but intend to find out.

The Barnhills website only now shows the locations owned by Star and nothing else.

Anonymous said...

One of the posts mentions a Barnhill's in Collins, MS - that is incorrect. Secondly, Star Buffet Inc. is buying SOME Barnhill restaraunts across the south including other regional buffets. Their food is okay, but not worth the price to me.

Robert A said...

It is possible that some of the Barnhills are franchised and would not be bought up with the rest of the chain.

I am going to do some research on Star and see if there is anything of interest to write about.