Friday, October 05, 2007

Yoders - A Buffet In a Supermarket, New Holland, PA

I have known about Yoders Restaurant and Buffet in New Holland, Pennsylvania for many years. I have never been there before. Several years ago we looked inside and it appeared that the main entree on the buffet was fried chicken and did not go in to eat. Yoders is a rather unusual buffet restaurant as it is located inside a supermarket. A buffet in a supermarket - think of the possibilities! The entrance to the supermarket leads into a hallway - to the right leads to the supermarket and to the left leads to the restaurant.

This is a restaurant that offers both buffet and menu dining. The buffet is quite extensive and as we learned the Friday evening that we dined there the buffet is very good! When you enter through the door to the restaurant from the entrance hallway you walk past the cashier and are seated by a hostess. There are only booths in this restaurant. The room is large, but not enormous. The front three quarters of the room is the dining room and the rear of the room are where the buffet servers are located. There are five double-sided buffet servers, two single servers along the two side walls and the back wall is filled with a grill area. Every buffet server has a large, clear sign on top indicating what you will find there. At the very rear of the room was a door to a private dining room for parties. There are also banquet facilities available here.

The adult price of the dinner buffet is $11.99. Soft drinks are $1.49 and are refillable. There is a children's price. There is a higher price on Saturdays and two additional entrees are served on Saturdays. There are also lunch buffets and breakfast buffets. Each night's dinner is themed. Friday is Land and Sea (seafood and London Broil) and Saturday's the theme is Dutch Grill which offers baked sausage and other local Pennsylvania Dutch dishes.

There is a buffet server with two soups and bread. A buffet server with a salad bar is next to that. There are two buffet servers with hot food. There are two buffet servers with desserts. The soups offered this night were clam chowder (Friday) and vegetable pasta. We both tried the vegetable pasta soup and it was good. It was thick with vegetables and small shell macaroni. There was a nice assortment of bread and rolls on this server also.

The salad bar had three different greens and a large variety of salad toppings and dressings. There were a number of prepared salads - many prepared as the local Pennsylvania Dutch prepare them. One prepared salad popular here is called Pepper Cabbage. It is a finely chopped mixture of cabbage and green peppers with a sweet vinegar dressing. In some areas of the country this is called Chow Chow. In the PA Dutch area Chow Chow is a mixed vegetables in a sweet pickled dressing. This was on the salad bar also. Another local delicacy is apple butter on top of cottage cheese. These were on the salad bar also. Apple butter is a deep brown cooked down apple sauce - more tart than apple sauce but also nicely sweet. This area is known for mixing sweet and sour. At one time Seven Sweets and Seven Sours were spoken of in restaurants in this area - no one mentions this much any more but you surely can enjoy them from the salad bar at Yoders.

Entrees and vegetables have grown over the years to far more than the fried chicken that I saw when I looked in years back. The fried - rather "broasted" chicken was there, but there was so much more, They are known in this restaurant for their chicken, so I will speak about that first. Broasting is a combination of broiling and roasting in a special oven but the result is fried chicken (though supposedly healthier). The chicken was crispy and good. Large meaty pieces were in the server - mostly white meat. Some pieces were stuck together and I wound up with two pieces when I thought that I was taking one. It was ok because it was good. There were several local entrees on this buffet server along with the chicken. It is common in this area at buffets to serve roast beef sliced into thick slices and put into brown gravy on the server. This was on the server. There was ham loaf - meat loaf made with chopped ham and served with a pineapple sweet sauce on top. Later during the meal the ham loaf was gone and was replaced with ham balls - the same thing but made into meat balls rather than a loaf. We liked the ham balls better than the ham loaf but we are not certain why. There was also baked chicken.

The next buffet server was filled with seafood. There was fried fish, large fried shrimp, fried clams, baked fish, mussels, hot shrimp in a spicy red sauce, scalloped oysters, and more. There was seafood au gratin.

On the grill they were cooking and slicing London broil steak. There was also grilled salmon, stir fry shrimp, and corn fritters made on a griddle. The London broil was cooked on a flame grill. The London Broil was just fair - it had little taste and was tough. The first piece I had was well done and the next was rare - it did not make any difference. Actually, the well done piece because of the charred outside was better than the rare piece. This was the only disappointment. In front of the grill was a small server with cold shrimp and all of the usual seafood condiments.

There was a great assortment of vegetables and side dishes including some local specialties and some not usually found. One of the most unusual was baked oatmeal. This was terrific. It was mildly sweet. They also had potato filling. Filling is what they call "stuffing" in this area. This was made with riced potatoes and was excellent. There was also dried corn - a corn dish made like fresh corn with dried corn kernels. It is sweet and toasty in taste. There was fresh stewed tomatoes that was not made sweet as it is usually served - very good. There were hush puppies - fried corn meal balls. There was a sweet cooked apple dish. There was macaroni and cheese, noodles in butter sauce, and the corn fritters. The corn fritters were made like pancakes and were sized like pancakes as well. They had a soft inside that was full of corn. Of course, there were mashed potatoes, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, rice, carrots, and many standard vegetables.

If you still have room there were quite a few desserts. There was chocolate cake with white icing and there was chocolate cake with peanut butter icing. There were fruit pies and fruit crumb desserts. There was shoo fly pie - the locally originated pie with molasses and crumbs on top. There were sugar free pies. There was a full buffet server of puddings and fruit desserts. There was two types of tapioca pudding. There was a local pudding called cracker pudding - a pudding like rice pudding that uses saltine crackers - very good! And if you want more this is a soft serve machine and a sundae topping bar.

I think that you can tell that I enjoyed this meal. The server brings you your drink refills and clears the plates away and ours was great (as were the others that I could see). All of the staff were friendly. The restaurant was extremely clean. Restrooms were located outside the restaurant a little further down the hallway and were well maintained and clean.

At the grill you are given generous portions - more than you may want. This is a great restaurant and I am sorry that it took me so long to finally give it a try. I am looking forward to the next time that I eat there.

The restaurant is open from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM. There is a small website that is linked at the side of this page, though the website gives a much more limited description of the buffets than they actually are. The restaurant is located at Yoders Supermarket, Route 23, New Holland, Pennsylvania. The phone number is (717) 354-4748. I have never seen discount coupons for Yoders as there are for some of the buffet restaurants in this area as found in the free tourist papers. There are pamphlets for the restaurant with a much better description than the website offers.

If you would like the experience of eating in a buffet that is located in a supermarket - or you would like to eat in a really great buffet - please do go to Yoders Restaurant and Buffet. (Do not confuse this with Yoders Restaurant in Sarasota, Florida - I do not believe there is any connection, though that is also an Amish food buffet.) This restaurant is in Pennsylvania in Lancaster County where the Amish and Mennonites live.

Since eating at Yoders, I keep thinking about going back - so it really must have been good!

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