Friday, May 30, 2008

Return to General Pickett's Buffets - Gettysburg, PA

It has been a long time since I have written about General Pickett's Buffets in Gettysburg, Pa. (See September 7, 2005) I have been back there to eat since, but that has been about two years now. We were just in Gettysburg again - to see the new National Park Service museum. While we were there we just had to return to General Pickett's.

If you read or have read my original review of General Pickett's you will see that I liked this buffet. I still do. For the most part everything is the same. There were a few differences.

For one thing the price has gone up, BUT only by ONE dollar. The adult weekend dinner price is just $10.95. Compared to how much other Pennsylvania buffets have increase over the past very few years, this is remarkable. The soft drink price did almost double - from 80 cents to $1.50 but that is very reasonable these days - especially for refillable soft drinks. You are paying that or more at fast food restaurants. Pirces are the same seven nights a week. The lunch buffet also went up just one dollar to $6.95.

This is and has been an early close restaurant. While many buffets in Central and South Central Pennsylvania close at 8:00 pm this one closes at 7:30 and at 7:00 on Sundays. I did not remember this and we walked in on a Sunday night at 6:46 pm. I saw the sign and became concerned that we would not be seated. The hostess came over with a smile, asked if we would like a table or a booth and took us to our table with no mention of the time. Throughout the meal we were never rushed, we were not reminded of the time, and there was no asking if we were done with the hot foods so that they could close down the server. If I had not seen the sign I would never have known that they were near closing.

We were there on a Sunday night but this was a Monday holiday weekend. The restaurant had people dining but was near empty. This is probably because of the hour.

Menu items are very consistently the same here and most of the items that were there two and three years ago were there still. There were a few additions worthy of mention. There were three meat carvings instead of two. They were carving roast beef, ham, and a turkey breast. The carvings are kept under a heat lamp and are carved to your order with some extra slices left out if you wish to take some while the person carving is tending to a table - jobs seem to be shared here with serving staff moving about doing many things - which is fine. The meats were moist. The turkey could have been hotter. It was not cold but just warm. Some gravy that I added on top was also just warm. This surprised me because you could see the steam coming out from under the serving trays in the hot buffet serving table. Everything else was properly hot. The temperature of the meat was well within the safe range and the taste was fine. This very well may have been the result of the late time that we were there.

There were three soups - not two this time. One was a very good chicken noodles and the noodles tasted and had the texture of home made. There also was beef vegetable and ham and bean.

One of the entrees that I had not had here before was this restaurant's version of Pork and Sauerkraut. This is a local Amish dish of shredded pork cooked with and mixed into sauerkraut. Usually the taste is sharp with the vinegar of the saurerkraut. Here it was delightfully on the sweet side. The sauerkraut was sweetened and gave a wonderful flavor to the dish. The pork was finely shredded into the mix and while noticeably there as you ate it it was well blended in. I had to resist going back for a third serving - notice that I did not resist the second helping.

There was also fried talapia (fish) on the buffet. Talapia fillets are thin and this made for a wonderful fried fish dish. The fish was breaded in a corn meal and deep fried to a very crisp, almost chip - like a potato chip. Wonderful!

There was a macaroni and cheese side dish that looked so good I could not resist trying a little. (Mac and Cheese is a cholesterol no-no - don't tell.) It looked thick and gooey and a bit more orange in color that many mac and cheese dishes that I have seen and tried. The top was a crust of cheese. I scooped some out and the cheese pulled in strings from the server to my plate. Yum! It tasted as good as it looked. (Ah... if only to be young again and eat things like this without a second thought!)

The other side dishes and entrees were the same as I have seen and tried here before - and as I wrote about them in 2005. The mixed summer squash medley was good. The kernal corn was good. The carrots had a pleasant, mild sweetness. There was baked chicken, chicken nuggets, baked fish, seafood creole, baked potatoes, spaghetti and sauce, and other dishes.

They also still have the Barbecue Pork Spareribs. This is the closes that I have found to a barbecue buffet, as the spareribs are regularly on the buffet at dinner. They are well sauced and cooked to the fall off the bone state that I find to be what I like in pit barbecue style ribs. The barbecue sauce is on the slightly sweet side. When I first wrote about these ribs I said that they were the best that I have had at a buffet. I would not say that had I only had them this night. Don't get me wrong - they were good, but the meat was a little tough and the sauce a bit sweeter than I would prefer. My comment to the sauce is due to my current taste. The chewiness of the meat maybe due to the time that they were out before I got there late to eat them. They were still good. I did go back for a second helping - I would have preferred the meat to be more tender.

Baking here is very good. There is a corn bread here that is really good. There is a difference between cornbread in the North and in the South. In the North it is sweet and made with sugar in the recipe. In the South it is not sweet. This is Northern corn bread. Dessert selections are great with great cakes and pies. We both tried the chocolate cake and it was moist and light with good, and not overwhelming, chocolate taste.

Service here is excellent. I recognized just about all of the staff and it is a good thing when a restaurant can hold onto its staff over the years. Our server kept checking in with us and taking our dirty dishes away. She made sure that we got refills of our soft drinks.

Even with the late hour the buffet servers were well maintained. Nothing was dried out and the staff kept stirring and checking on the food. A few items were near the bottom but there were still good servings left in them and I would not expect them to fill them when they were about to close.

The restaurant still has a frequent diners card that gives you a free dinner after you purchase ten dinners . With the price as low as it is this is even more remarkable.

I still recommend that everyone go to General Pickett's Buffets. The general may have lost the battle across the road 145 years ago but the restaurant named for him is a winner!

The restaurant is located at is located at 571 Steinwehr Avenue. Their phone number is 717-334-7580. The restaurant now has a website which you will find linked at the side of this page.


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