Friday, November 28, 2008


I have written about a restaurant in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania called the Family Cupboard Restaurant. There is a second restaurant in the same county run by members of the same family as the proprietors of the restaurant that I have been to and written about. I had an opportunity to visit this restaurant just north of the town of Lititz. As I understand it, this restaurant is the original location and the family that first opened it in 1997 moved on to open the Bird-in-Hand Family Cupboard in 2001. A connection certainly remains between the two restaurants as the buffet offerings and recipes are basically the same. It would be unfair to compare one against the other and I am not going to do that. They are both very good and the food is equally good. Another member of the family runs Dienners Restaurant that I wrote about a several weeks ago.

I will start as I usually do - as if there is no connection and this is an entirely new experience - which it was. The Lititz Family Cupboard restaurant is located just off Route 501, just a mile or so north of the town of Lititz. Lititz is an old and historic community and you drive through the heart of the town as you are approaching the turn to this restaurant. There is a sign for the restaurant on Route 501 and just past the sign you turn off Route 501 onto a side road that immediately brings you to the parking lot of the restaurant.

This is a restaurant that looks small as you enter but within the building are two dining rooms and also a small banquet room. You enter and are seated by a hostess. All of the tables in the main dining room are tables - there are no booths. The room is brightly lit and properly noisy for busy family restaurant. Lititz is pretty much out of the main tourist area of Lancaster County and it is clear by the families dining here that this is a local restaurant and not one that is frequented steadily by the tourists as many of the Lancaster County buffet restaurants are more in the heart of the Amish farmlands. You are sitll in the middle of farmlands and the Amish. This is a restaurant for families and anyone who would like a good meal in a friendly atmosphere.

There is menu dining and buffet dining. Both could be had by diners at the same table - in other words, if you want buffet and your friend wants to order from the menu that was ok. (I say this because there are some restaurants that will not allow this.)

The buffet area is at one side of the room and consists of a long double-sided buffet server, two short double-sided buffet servers, and a refrigerated cabinet with pies. The dining room extends from the buffet area and to the back is another dining room that was closed this Saturday night in early November. Away from these areas and separated by a door was a small banquet room for parties. The restaurant was bustling and many of the tables were filled. We were seated right away but it looked like they were well prepared if there was a wait.

The buffet dinner was very reasonably priced. The dinner buffet on Friday and Saturday nights is $11.99 from 4:oo to 8:00 pm. Like many of the restaurants in this area this restaurant closes at 8:00 pm and is NOT open on Sundays. Monday to Thursday the dinner buffet is $11.19. Lunch during the week is $9.25 for the buffet from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm and on Saturday the buffet lunch is $9.25 from 11:30 am to 4:00 pm. These are extremely good prices considering what the chain buffets have recently raised their prices to. There are children's prices. Children from ages 4 to 11 are charged 80 cents per pound of their weight for lunch every day. The charge is one dollar per pound of weight for the dinner buffet. Children under 3 are free. Sodas are refillable and cost $1.65 each. Coke products are served. There is also an option to just have the soup and salad bar.

We started with soup and there were two homemade soups offered. One was cream of broccoli soup and the other was ham and bean soup. I tried the cream of broccoli soup and while broccoli is not a favorite of mine, the soup was excellent. It was thick and white with cream and the broccoli was chopped very finely.

The salad bar was next and here you will find a selection of prepared salads and lettuce greens, salad toppings and vegetables, and a large assortment of dressings. There was the usual macaroni salad, potato salad, Pennsylvania Dutch chow chow, cottage cheese, apple butter, and a particularly good tortellini salad, among other choices. The tortellini salad was full of cheese stuffed spinach, carrot, and flour tortellinis in a mild dressing. This and the soup tempted me to go back for more, but there was a whole meal ahead of me yet.

The hot buffet server - the long one - had a lot to offer. I said that I was not going to compare this restaurants to the others "connected" to it, but as you read these offerings you will find many of the same in my reviews of the others. There was excellent rotisserie chicken, sliced ham, baked fish, fried shrimp, cubes of beef in gravy as the entrees offered. I was surprised to find no fried chicken which is almost a staple in this area at buffets, but it was not missed. The ham is kept in liquid in the serving tray and was a little more watery than I cared for. There was nothing wrong with it. There were fewer choices than some other restaurants but all were good. The beef cubes in gravy is very tasty. I most enjoyed the chicken and that was the meat that I went back for more of. The side dishes dominated the server and there was a good variety. Here there were fresh (not from a mix) mashed potatoes, buttered noodles, great macaroni and cheese, mildly sweetened carrots, plain green beans, lima beans, backed beans, sweet potato casserole - the kind with the marshmallows baked on top, corn, stewed tomatoes, stuffing (called filling in this area), rice, chicken gravy, and beef gravy. At the side were both white and whole wheat bread rolls. Lots of food - as you would expect to find and all of it properly cooked, served, and maintained. There were nothing dried out, there were no empty serving trays. As things needed refilling they were immediately refilled.

I ate with the thought to save room for dessert and the desserts did not disappoint. There were a variety of puddings, prepared dish desserts, pies, cakes, and a small selection of sugar free desserts. There was also soft serve ice cream and sundae toppings along with cones. The soft serve was very good. There were some local desserts one of which was cracker pudding. This is like rice pudding made with crushed saltine crackers and shredded coconut. This one was just right. There was also an excellent rice pudding. My wife tried something that was different - for us, at least - Oatmeal Pie. It had a baked oatmeal top with a sugar syrup layer at the bottom. It was very good - not too sweet, as I expected when I saw the bottom layer.

The service was very friendly and efficient. Dishes were cleared away quickly, drinks were offered to be refilled, and new full glasses were brought right away. Looking around the dining room all of the servers seemed to be just as friendly.

The restaurant was very clean. The buffet servers were labeled with what was in each tray. All matched. The rest rooms were also well maintained.

This is a buffet that I would have no hesitation going to again. I recommend it to anyone who is in this area. The price can't be beat and the food that you are getting is of quality and nicely cooked. There is terrific value here - and good food.

The Lititz Family Cupboard Restaurant and Buffet is located at 12 West Newport Road in Lititz, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The phone number is 717-626-9102. There is no website. If you do a search for this restaurant you will find a number of positive reviews, but the website that comes up is for the Family Cupboard in Bird-in-Hand.


Writer said...

There is a website now for this restaurant/buffet and it is listed at the side of this page.

Big Dave T said...

My wife and I just stopped for breakfast at this restaurant this week on our way back from a trip to Washington DC. She's of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage and likes to indulge her roots by visiting the area. I would agree with your review so far as the quality of food. My wife might quibble however. She felt that deep-frying scrapple was a no-no and that the shoo-fly pie had too much cinnamon flavoring.