Friday, July 11, 2008

HARVEST VIEW FAMILY RESTAURANT AND BUFFET, Gordonville, PA

A year ago and a year before that I ate in a buffet restaurant in South central Pennsylvania near the village of Intercourse (YES, it is a real village and that is the real name) in Lancaster County. The restaurant at THOSE times had problems and each of those visits resulted in articles with poor reviews. In the past year this site has received several comments stating that this buffet was good and I was emailed by the restaurant's manager saying that significant changes and improvements had been made. I responded to the comment and to the manager that I would return and try it again.

RIGHT UP FRONT - I will state that YES! There has been great improvement and the buffet is now good.

I will write this review at this point as if this was the first time that I have eaten here - as I would with any new buffet that I visit. We will leave the past to the past and start with the Harvest View Family Restaurant fresh.

My visit took place mid-week at dinner time. This is a large restaurant on two levels and the upper level - with a fabulous view of farm land is the room with the buffet servers. The evening we came the lower level was closed off - understandably, because while there were several tables occupied there was no need for the two rooms to be open. As you enter the restaurant there are paper signs pointing you to the dining room and that you should seat yourself. As we entered the upper level dining room we were very pleasantly greeted and told to take any table we wished. We did and we were asked for our soft drink order and told to help ourselves at the buffet. At one time this restaurant offered menu service in addition to the buffet. No menus were offfered and it is uncertain that this is still an option. With the plentiful and reasonable buffet this is not necessary.

Prices are reasonable. The adult buffet is $11.95 Monday to Thursday and $12.95 on Saturday and Sunday. Unlike other local buffets in this area, this buffet is open on Sunday. The Friday night dinner is a special Seafood dinner and costs $14.95. Children are haf price from age 5 to 12 at all meals and under 5 are free. Soft drinks were $1.49 with refills. There is a lunch buffet from 11 am to 4 pm and a breakfast buffet daily as well. Lunch is $8.95 Monday to Friday and $10.95 Saturday and Sunday. The restaurant is open until 8:00 pm - just like all of the other buffets in this area. There are coupons in the local tourist newspapers found all over the area plus the same $2 off per dinner coupon to be found on the restaurant's website, which makes the prices even better. You cannot beat this meal for $10.

There are three buffet servers. A soup and salad server, a hot server, and a dessert server. At the side is an ice cream freezer case where the serving staff scoop hard ice cream for you and there is a bay marie with pies.

There was one soup - on this night it was Potato Soup. I am sure it was fine, but I passed on the soup as it is not one that I prefer and went directly to the salad bar offerings. There was, as my wife put it, expensive lettuce - a variety better than the standard iceberg. There were a number of salad toppings and dressings. There were also several prepared salads - some made with recipes local to this Pennsylvania Dutch area.

The offerings on the buffet are now based in Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. There were several local dishes and there were also "regular" entrees that were made with a PA Dutch slant. There was a good assortment and most should be happy with what they have to select from. Entrees on this night included Seasoned Steak (which seems to be featured most nights). This was a flank-style steak cooked with a thickened seasoned sauce. It was different and it was tasty. There were sausages and onions. These were very good and were sausages split lengthwise and grilled. The sausages were topped with ring slices of cooked onions. These were country sausages and were seasoned in a German style with a bit of red pepper added for spice. There was pork and sauerkraut, a local dish of pieces of pork cooked in a vinegar-based sauerkraut. There was Chicken Pot Pie, which in this area is called Chicken Bot Bie and not like you will find in other regions of the US. In Pennsylvania this is a dish of chicken with noodle dumplings in a thicken sauce with carrots and celery. This is not the chicken in a pie shell that is expected when you hear its name. This is a local Pennsylvania Dutch favorite and this was one of the better that I have had. It was thick and rich with fresh,big noodle dumplings and pieces of chicken.

The more "standard" entrees included baked chicken, which was good, fried chicken with a thick, crispy fried coating that was excellent (the chicken had great crunch and no grease, as some fried chickens will have - this chicken enticed me as soon as I saw it and the taste and crunch was as good as anticipated), and meatloaf with a tomato sauce topping which I have been told is a local Amish lady's recipe and it was good. There was also pulled pork barbecue which was tasty but a bit dry.

Of course, there were vegetables and side dishes. These included cooked carrots, peas, green beans, kernel corn, creamed corn, stewed tomatoes, cabbage, mashed potatoes that were guaranteed freshly made because there were nice lumps of potatoes mixed in, and stuffing. There was hot beef gravy out for the mashed potatoes. The vegetables were not buttered or seasoned - and this is a good thing, letting you decide what you want to put on them - or having them with nothing - which always makes my picky wife happy.

As I said, the restaurant had several full tables, but this was a weeknight and there was not a constant flow of people at the buffet servers. The two waitresses who were working would go over to the hot buffet server and give some of the dishes a stir. Others like the pulled pork should have been tended more often. Every so often the chef would come out of the kitchen and check to see what needed to be refilled. Trays would be refilled but it did take a little bit of time - the reason seemed to be that it was being cooked fresh as it was needed and not sitting in a hot tray in the kitchen just to be brought out. On a busier night there is probably more people in the kitchen - there seemed to be just two this night - but for the crowd it was fine.

The dessert server had three layer cakes, several puddings, jello, fresh fruit and some interesting selections including a jello and apple sauce mixture that was very nice and a tapioca pudding with a red fruit added. There were several selections of ice cream. several fruit pies and the locally known, shoo fly pie. The case that the pies are in is refrigerated.

Wait staff were very pleasant and came throughout the meal to make sure that all was well, take away dirty plates - each plate was removed as you finished it and no plates stacked up on the table, and to refill soft drinks. They were very attentive and even helped small children at the dessert server to fill their plates - something that I have not seen elsewhere and was great for the kids (whose parents really should have been up there with them).

The room could have been a little cooler on this hot evening. The air conditioning was one home type wall unit at the side. It was on and worked hard to cool the room. It may be that when the both dining rooms are open the central air conditioning units are brought on.

So - DO GO TO THE HARVEST VIEW FAMILY RESTAURANT AND BUFFET.

I will be returning to enjoy it again. The view is wonderful and if you can sit near a window do so. I have been waiting for a long time for this restaurant to come up to par and it has.

The Harvest View Family Restaurant and Buffet is located next to the Harvest View Motel at 3370 Harvest Drive, Gordonville, Pa 17529. Their phone number is 717-768-7253. There is a website and the link is at the side of this page.

13 comments:

Robert A said...

UPDATE -

On September 8, 2008 I went to see if Harvest Buffet was still open. I had suspicion because the usual advertisements for this buffet were missing from the tourist papers and it was missing from the locater map in one of those papers. On the route that this restaurant is off from there is a sign for the restaurant directing you to turn and this is a sign with movable letters for messages. The sign curiously read MENU 8 -1 BUFFET 8 - 8 and then UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT. New management? New owners, a new manager, or was this just the same "new" management"??? I do know that as of July there was no menu dining. Now, the sign says that there is - part of changes by the new management/owner???

We turned down the road and got to the entrance to the restaurant parking lot. On the roadside restaurant sign it said RESTAURANT CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS.

So as of this date Harvest View is closed. When will it reopen? Will it reopen by the same owner as the same restaurant? All of this remains to be seen, but if you are planning on going to Harvest Buffet anytime soon - it is closed. Call them first and find out if it has reopened.

Robert A said...

According to a message where the website once was the Harvest View has closed - and appears not to be planning to reopen.

Tom said...

I just got off the phone with a fellow at the Harvest View Family Motel. Thinking it is next door maybe it is related. He mentioned that they aren't affiliated and that the restaurant was a different owner who couldn't manage it and it closed down. He mentioned that they (the motel people) are remodeling the restaurant and are planning to open at the end of July.

I am *almost* positive that this was the place I ate at a few years ago while taking a side trip out their and like one of your other reviews there was no AC. However, they did have someone attempting to fit an AC into a door that was at the end of the row of windows overlooking the food was great and it had a lot of Amish dishes like pot pie, etc... And it was all just as you described in this review.

The AC issue had just occurred at that time so it is likely that it was the beginning of the period you encountered.

The thick accented man I spoke with from the motel said that we shouldn't be disappointed when we come out (assuming its open - beginning of April).

Otherwise, I am not sure where to stop with the family that will definitely have pot pie on the menu and be affordable with 5 kids.

Robert A said...

I drove past the restaurant in April and there was the same renovating sign that was there in September. I will check it out again when I am in that area - check back here for an update soon.

As to Chicken Bot Bie (Pot Pie) - it shows up on various buffets in Lancaster but not necessarily on a regular basis. I wish I could tell you go to X on Y night and it will be there. You could try calling around - The Family Cupboard is more affordable than many and they have it sometimes. It may be on their regular menu as well. I will also check this our and report back here.

Robert A said...

For Tom -

Chicken Pot Pie = quick find!
This is a regular on the menu at the Plain and Fancy Farm Restaurant. There is menu and family style dining here. The Chicken Pot Pie is supposed to always be on the Amish Feast Family Style meal. This means it is all you care to eat but you sit at a table with other people and plates of food are brought and passed around the table. This meal is not cheap - $18.99 per adult. Go to their website and get a coupon for $3.00 off each meal. I have not been to this restaurant in many, many years as I do not prefer family style dining. It is owned by Millers Smorgasbord and the food should be good - but I really don't know for sure.

Robert A said...

Also for TOm -

Try calling the Akron Restaurant = not a buffet, but Chicken Pot Pie (Amish style) is on their regular menu. I do not know prices and have never eaten there.

Robert A said...

One more for TOm -

All you can eat Chicken Pot Pie for two - $12.00
Your Place Restaurant, Route 30 in Lancaster next to the Country Inn Motel.
I have not tried it but y9u can't beat the price!

Tom said...

Thanks for the Bot Boi/Pot Pie updates. I am heading out that way the first week of August and will drive by the old Harvest View and report back what I find. Thanks again!

Robert A said...

The Bot Bie special at Your Place requires a coupon, but they are in the tourist papers that are at every hotel.

Enjoy!

Robert A said...

There is a new sign on the front of the Harvest View Restaurant.

"The Royal Restaurant"

Not sure how much work is being done inside - could not see from the parking lot. From the outside all is the same except for the sign. No mention of buffet, but that remains to be seen once they are nearer to opening or open.

Tom said...

I will be heading out there on Monday as part of a long round-about way to go upstate to visit family and hit Knoebels. I plan on stopping by to see if this place has reopened or not and will let you know what I find.

Might you know of any interesting family oriented activities in the area that some kids might enjoy>

Robert A said...

Well, we are a bit off topic here but what the heck - Lancaster County has nothing but places and activities for families. If they are young kids, they will love Dutch Wonderland - Rt. 30 - an amusement park geared toward younger children. Strasburg Railroad - ride a steam railroad - 896S to 741E. Amish Farm and House - Rt 30 (next to Cici's). Amish Experience at Plain and Fancy Restaurant - Rt. 341. See jelly made plus visit shops at Kitchen Kettle - Rt. 340. Amish Village on 896S. Buggy rides along Rt 340, also at Kitchen Kettle (wagon ride) and at Plain and Fancy. Just ride the back roads to see the Amish farming. Have fun!

Tom said...

I stopped by last Monday, the 3rd, and it was still closed for renovations.