Friday, April 24, 2009

Like a Visit with a Friend - Yoders

The snow is finally gone - we hope - and I am able to start traveling again. At this time of the year it is annual trip to Lancaster, PA. Lancaster as you will know if you are a regular reader of this site should be called the Buffet Capital of the US There are more buffet restaurants in Lancaster than any place else that I know of and I am not referring to chain buffets but independently owned buffets. There is a share of the chains as well - OCB, CiCis, but what you will find here are many, many buffets as part of everything from menu restaurants, buffet only restaurants, and buffets connected to supermarkets.

When I am coming to this area I have to decide which buffets I am going to. I wish I had this choice all of the time. One that I make sure is included in every trip is Yoders.

I have written about Yoders before and there are one or two articles that describe the buffet in detail. Search the archives of this site and you will be able to read those articles. This is one buffet that has come very close to being selected Buffet Restaurant of the Year. I will not go into my reasons why it has not YET been selected, but rest assurred it is one of the best.

Yoders is one of the buffets that is connected to a supermarket. This seems to be a buffet phenomenon of this area - as there are several buffets here that are connected to supermarkets. Coming to Yoders for me is like a visit with a friend. You can't wait to get there and you hate to leave.

This trip brought me to Yoders on a Thursday night. I have written about Yoders on Saturday night and on Friday night. Thursday is not one of the theme menu nights. Monday is barbecue. Wednesday is Italian. Friday and, now, Saturday night is Land and Sea. Saturday had been Dutch Treats night in the past - as I described in one of my articles. Sadly, that has now changed to duplicate Friday's seafood offerings.

This particular Thursday we were offered a large variety of dishes both at the buffet servers and at the grill. I always start with soup and the soups on this night were Cream of Potato and Red Clam Chowder. I decided to have the clam chowder and I was delighted with what I choose. I live in an area where every diner serves Manhattan (Red) clam chowder every night on the menu. In some areas the consistent soup on the menu is chili - in New York and on Long Island it is Manhattan clam chowder. So I know clam chowder. It is generally highly seasoned with herbs and has a tang to its thin soup with chunks of potatoes, tomatoes, and lumps of clams. Here at Yoders the clam chowder was pleasantly different. The soup base was a thick tomato soup. In the soup were the usual chunks of tomatoes and small cubes of potatoes With that there was a good quantity of rice and the clams, though probably from a can where finely chopped. The test was mild and good. The soup was not over-seasoned and that clam chowder twang was nicely absent. I enjoyed my cup of soup and gave some serious thought to going back for another cup.

There were many good things to come and I resisted that urge for more soup and went on to the rest of the meal. Over at the grill there were two chefs preparing liver and onions, shrimp stir fry, grilled sweet onion chicken, grilled blue fish, and slicing a loin of roast pork. At the buffet server there was excellent fried chicken - here called "broasted", a process that essentially creates fried chicken that is nicely moist while maintaining a crispy crust. Of course, that is not all! There were small meatballs in a seasoned cream sauce that were called Danish meatballs instead of Swedish meatballs. These were more seasoned than Swedish meatballs that I have had before. There was stuffed cabbage - large rolls of cabbage stuffed with rice with chopped meat in tomato sauce. There were ham balls - meatballs made with ham meat in a sweet sauce. There was broiled haddock. There was broiled chicken. There was turkey in gravy - yes, the turkey was served in the turkey gravy. They also had chicken ala king served next to rice and there was turkey barbecue with rolls next to the serving tray to create your own barbecue sandwich.

Side dishes are just as interesting. One of the things that I have mentioned here before is the baked oatmeal, This is my wife's favorite thing here. She has looked for recipes and has not found one that creates the dry-like oatmeal pudding that is served here. She has only been able to find recipes called baked oatmeal that make solid oatmeal bars. It is much like a grain dish here. This night also offered baked corn pudding - a custard like pudding filled with corn. There was also Pennsylvania Dutch Potato Filling - a stuffing made with potatoes. Of course, a staple in this area is buttered noodles and they were there as well. Macaroni and cheese is real baked macaroni and cheese. It has a thick crust on top and is nicely mild and gooey inside. Mashed potatoes were nice and creamy and if these came from a mix it is a real good mix. I suspect that these are made from fresh potatoes. Another common vegetable found at buffets here is stewed tomatoes and these were not too sweet as stewed tomatoes can be.

Lots to eat! One of the problems when you are with friends that you don't see often is that you overindulge, wanting the visit to keep going. This is easy to do at this buffet. I try not to over do it at buffets, and as I get older, I recognize that I cannot eat as much as I once did in my younger days. It is a conscious effort here not to do that. On this trip I probably did - and I have three more nights of buffet meals to go before we head home.

And then there is dessert. One full double buffet server of puddings and fruits, a counter of cakes, a revolving case full of pies, and a soft-serve ice cream machine - with sundae toppings. By dessert I kept control with a nice piece of marbled sheet cake - likely from the supermarket bakery and a small bowl of egg custard.

Service as always is good and the staff are very friendly. Dirty dishes are taken from the table quickly and drink refills were offered.

This is a local restaurant and you will often find yourself dining next to an Amish family. There is a supermarket in the same building and people come to dine and then go off to shop. As I have written before, there is nothing fancy here - it is all fast food type booths filling the restaurant. In the rear there are dining rooms that will be opened for guests that will not fit in a small booth for four. It is not about the ambiance here but it is all about the food. That is not to say that the dining room is very pleasant and pleasingly decorated. When you visit a friend it is not important how fancy their home is but the time that you spend with your friend.

If you are in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania you need to go to Yoders - along with all of the other great buffets here that I have told you all to try in Lancaster.

There is a website for Yoders listed at the side of this article. The restaurant is located at Yoder's Supermarket or perhaps, more properly, Yoder's Country Market, Route 23, New Holland, Pennsylvania. The phone number is (717) 354-4748.


Fuzzy said...

Hiya, I notice you get into the 'Amish country' fairly often, but you haven't mentioned Millers.. Is it you haven't managed to get there yet?


Robert A said...

To answer the above comment - I have been to Millers many times in years past. Millers is very expensive compared to the other buffets in this area. All that aside, while there is NOTHING wrong with their food for some reason it does not agree with me. My wife was fine there. For several of the last times I was there I was not. I have not written about it because I have not been back for that reason since writing this site. This is just me and not the restaurant - I don't know why. I ate at Millers when it was the size of a diner back in the early 1960's. It was the first buffet that I ever went to.

Fuzzy said...

Ahhh OK Then!
Thank you for responding :).