Friday, March 06, 2009

Two More Nights at Old Country Buffet

Two weeks ago I wrote about the new featured "theme" nights at Old Country Buffet. Now, I am sure someone is going to leave a comment to this article saying, "Don't you ever learn!" Well, no - I went back for two more nights. I tried TexMex Wednesday and Seafood Friday.

Since I tried the Friday night feature before the Wednesday night feature I will tell you about that first. Friday night is Seafood Friday. Basically, Friday nights at Old Country Buffet have always been Seafood Friday - but now it is "official". On a Friday night that we did not want to drive out to the Chinese buffet, we decided to to head on over to OCB, which is a lot closer. After Italian Tuesday and BBQ Thursday, I was not expecting anything special for Seafood Friday. It was a good thing, too, because with no expectations I was not disappointed. I was surprised, however, as there was less seafood than there usually is on the Friday night buffet. As a matter of fact, other than the usual Friday salmon at the carving station, regular broiled fish, the usual fried fish, and the weekend featured shrimp that goes along with "Shrimp and St. Louis Ribs", there was no other seafood at all. Even the seafood pancakes that seem to show up almost every night were missing for Seafood Friday.

There have been some nice seafood dishes that have appeared in the past. One might imagine that when creating a menu for Seafood Friday, a restaurant chain might bring back some of those dishes. Apparently, not at Old Country Buffet.

On this night, what was in demand was steak - which was being served in one inch cut strips, I suppose so that it would not run out, St Louis ribs that made an appearance once when we first came in and then were gone until almost the time that we were leaving, and pizza that was missing for almost forty-five minutes. As for the seafood, the same trays stayed out pretty much the whole time that we were there. So much for Seafood Friday.

As we left the floor to ceiling display sign announcing the features caught my eye and I was drawn to TexMex Wednesday. My wife commented that maybe we should have come on Wednesday night. I told her that I had thought about it, but figured that it would be as much of a let down as the other nights had been. Yet, in the back of my mind I recalled the several good dishes that were featured during a quick summer feature several years ago that was never brought back by OCB. Way back then I had tried that in two OCBs - one in North Carolina and the other in New Jersey. Now, looking at the sign there was a picture of chicken fajitas and tacos - nothing unusual, but just maybe...

So the next week I announced that we were going to OCB for TexMex Wednesday! I knew that I should not hope for much. And again, not expecting anything, I was not disappointed.

OCB, at least the one that I frequent, always has a taco bar. On that bar is chopped taco meat soaking in thin red oil, four different types of taco shells and tortillas, Spanish rice, and beans. Along side is a cold area with sour cream, salsa, chopped tomatoes, sliced green chile pepers, lettuce, and shredded cheese. This was the extent of TexMex Wednesday - with the addition of... Chicken Fajitas.

Chicken Fajitas is a dish that OCB once had on the buffet frequently. Those of you who read my articles regularly know about my pickey eater wife. She always liked the Chicken Fajitas at Old Country Buffet. Unfortunately, for her, they have now been changed. Prior the chicken meat was cut into large chunks and served alone with the sauteed pepers and onions in another serving tray to add yourself. The Chicken Fajitas that appeared on TexMex Wednesday was chicken cut into smaller chunks and served already mixed into the green pepers and onions. She was not happy. I must tell you that I did enjoy them. The meat was flavorful and not spicy hot. The onions and pepers were cut a bit too large, but were fine.

I looked around the hot servers for more "TexMex". There was none. Everything else was the usual Wednesday night offerings - meatloaf, baked chicken, steak, turkey. There were some new dishes for a Wednesday night - Chicken Florentine - which belongs on Italian Tuesday and butter crusted baked pollack (at least according to the sign - what was out was just plain broiled fish) which should have been out on Seafood Friday. Also making an appearance were seafood pancakes - which were missing from Seafood Friday. (I have spoken about this in the past, but it needs repeating - the seafood pancakes are covered in a yellow/white gravy. You might think that this is some type of seafood gravy, but it is NOT. It is the chicken gravy that is served for the mashed potatoes. This likely contains meat, so if you do not eat meat for whatever reason but you do eat fish - don't eat the seafood pancakes.) So I guess, if you add Chicken Fajitas to the Taco Bar you get TexMex.

I was determined to eat TexMex so I helped myself to the Fajitas, made a taco, and added steak to my plate (just for the Tex part). The Fajitas, as I said, are good. One thing always missing from the OCB Taco Bar is taco sauce, and it is still missing. There is hot sauce over at the condiments bar, but that is not taco sauce.

So - I have been to four of the seven new "theme" nights - each with barely a resemblance to the theme. I had my foolish hopes. If you are going to OCB any night of the week you are walking in on one of the theme nights. There is no avoiding it other than not going. If you like the usual menu at OCB you will be satisfied finding what you always find. I am curious if at other OCB's - as the one I go to is notorious - if the menus actually match the themes and other than the ordinary night's dishes are served. I doubt it. From what I have been told by Buffet, Inc. employees, the chain sends out the food. It is not ordered by the location. Other than what might run out and be, HOPEFULLY, replaced by something else, the menus should be fairly consistent.

If I had to pick two nights to go JUST for what is on the feature, I would go to Italian Tuesday and TexMex Wednesday just for the Fajitas. Many of you, when you feel like buffet, have a choice of chains. Here there is just OCB and a few Chinese/Asian buffets. So sometimes it is OCB or nothing - and OCB is generally (but not always) better than nothing.

If you try a night - leave a comment. Let's here about what other OCB's are doing with theme nights!


Anonymous said...

Tuesday Italian Night at Hometown Buffet in Parma, OH: Spaghetti and sauce, that was the extent of the Italian food. I was looking for at least the pasta with cut up Italian sausage and possibly the chicken parmesan.

Zachary said...

I know so far the official theme night thing hasn't drastically changed but has basically removed alot original items. My location is actually using the fried catfish and clamstrips for spots on fridays. You should have seen the place when they tried re-imaging the company into a whole new HomeTown Buffet Design basically it had Alot more Hot Wells and Alot More Hot Food everynight. But it was good and was dissapointed when they stopped the whole the Look and Feel Of the Stores and Had to go back to old country buffet becaause of customer's think they got bought out.