Friday, December 31, 2010

Closing out 2010

Reflecting back on 2010 in the world of buffet restaurants, I can say that there have been some great meals and some not so great meals. For awhile this year I was finding more not so great buffets than really good ones. I was beginning to think that all of you would start looking at me as the "buffet killer" with not such good things to say about the restaurants I was reporting on. I would go into a restaurant with high hopes and come out with a list of things that were wrong. It got to the point that I was desperate to find good things about a restaurant to write - even if the experience at the restaurant was not totally good. We would come out after dinner and I would say - "Oh boy, now I am writing another critical article." Well, I tell it as I experience it and it would not be fair to all of you who are plunking down your hard earned - and hard to come by - cash for a meal or an experience that is not good. Happily, as the year progressed the restaurants got better and the articles became positive again - as I would like them to be (if the restaurant measures up).

This past year saw the closing of a very promising buffet - Buffet Europa in New Jersey. This was a small, couple owned and operated buffet that was exceptionally excellent. All of my readers who went to try it agreed. The food was excellent. The value was very good. So what went wrong? Why did this little gem go out of business? There was never anyone there. The dining room was very small and at that was never filled. At best, when I would be there, there would be maybe five tables filled. It was not because of the food. The most likely explanation is the location. This restaurant was just off a main highway but back enough in a tiny shopping center that it blended in with the several take out restaurants that were next door. There was no way to know that this restaurant was there from the main road. I know that the owners tried. They had a good website and made an effort to advertise, but this was not enough - at least in this economy - and they did not get the people that they needed to stay in business. What a shame! I understand that the owners moved to another part of New Jersey and maybe someday in a much better location they will open another restaurant like Buffet Europa.

Thinking back on my best new find this year - at least new to me - I have to say that the Festival Buffet at Foxwoods Casino/Resort in Connecticut is the meal I am most looking to go back for. This was a fine meal and I am eager to try it on a non-weekend night to see how the meal compares to the one that I had there on a Friday night (when the emphasis was on seafood). If only a bridge would be built across Long Island Sound, I would become a regular at this buffet. In a straight line the buffet is maybe forty or less miles from me - but because of a large body of water between us, it is necessary to drive west and around New York City and then north to Connecticut and then parallel back east to where this buffet is located. A trip of several hours each way and with a ridiculous cost in tolls. I will be going back - and it cannot be too soon! (And as I have mentioned before - I don't gamble. I go to casinos to eat at buffets.)

I would like to wish all of my readers a very Happy New Year! I look forward to some new buffet adventures in 2011. And I hope that you will keep coming back to this site to come along with me!

Our Best Buffet of 2010 will appear next week.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Time for the Rules - Again

Every so often we need to bring the Rules of The Buffet back into the forefront. Partly for those who may not have looked back on the site and partly for those who just seem to forget. I have often thought of putting these on a small enough card to carry around and when in a buffet and seeing some of the most blatant offenses plopping it down on the table and saying - "Here you really need to read this."

Well, for those of you who follow these, accept this as just a reminder. For those who have never seen these before, perhaps you will be enlightened. As has been said before - most of these are just common sense and common manners. But oh how surprising it is to find the lack of common sense and proper manners when at a buffet.


1. All you can eat is not a challenge. It is an offer!

2. There is no limit to the number of times that you can go up and get food.

3. Take your food in courses - as you would be served if ordering from a menu.

4. Everyone must pay!

5. No food is permitted to be taken out of the restaurant.

6. Take only what you will eat - do not waste food.

7. For a more social meal, it is polite to wait for the others at the table to finish their plates and then go up together to get more.

8. Take a clean plate every time that you go up to the buffet tables.

9. If you put it on your plate, leave it there. Never return food to the serving tray.

10. Never eat at the buffet tables!

11. Children under 12 should not be going up to the buffet tables alone.

12. The buffet table is not a cafeteria line.

13. Tip the server.

14. Never take a serving piece from one item and use it for another item.

15. Never place your dirty plates on someone else's table.

16. Never use your silverware to serve yourself from the buffet trays.

17. Once you have gotten what you want, don't stand around the buffet tables. Move on back to your table.

18. Children should remain seated through the meal.

19. Do not fill community plates for the "table". Each should take their own plate of what they wish to eat.

20. If you cough or sneeze into your hand, please do not use that hand to pick up the serving utensils.

21. In the buffet, as in any restaurant, children (and adults) should use their inside voices.

22. Don't talk on your cell phone while you are getting your food at the buffet tables.

23. Never bring an animal into the buffet. (this is not referring to medical guide dogs)

24. Never put your hands into a serving tray.

25. Tell your children not to put their hands into a serving tray - and make sure that they do not!

26. Do not carry on a conversation throughout dinner with the people at the tables around you.

27. Do not put anything back into a serving tray that has dropped onto the serving counter - and never put anything back into a serving tray (whether from the counter or your dish) with your fingers.

28. Never put the serving utensil, whether it a spoon, fork, or tongs, up to your nose to smell the food that you have taken out of the serving tray.

29. Do not eat while walking with your plate back to your table.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Asian Buffet, Hicksville, NY - New Weekday Price

For a number of years I dined regularly at the Asian Buffet in Hicksville, New York. The buffet while I was going there had a change in owners and the price gradually increased to a point that it was simply not worth going there any longer. The last time that I wrote about Asian Buffet was in February, 2008. And it is possible that was the last time I was there as we had seen an ad that the price had even gone higher. A short while ago one of my readers left a comment on my original article on the Asian Buffet and said that the adult dinner price was now $8.99. I could not believe this and I called the restaurant. The dinner price - MONDAY to THURSDAY - is, in fact, $8.99. BUT Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the dinner price is $18.99. Yes, ten dollars more. I was told that on those nights they have lobster - and they always did and that was one of the reasons that the price had gone beyond reach. I really should get into this current review, but I need to say that the lobster should not tempt anyone at that price as you will need to rush before anyone else beats you to the tray for the small amount put out and you will not see lobster again brought out for an hour. This is as it always was at this buffet on nights that there is lobster.

Now, let's get to what you do get now for $8.99 as I have recently had dinner at Asian Buffet during a weeknight.

We went at about 7 pm on a Wednesday night. There were a number of people in the dining room. Several larger groups and a few couples. The tables have been changed in the dining room since my last visit and gone are the long, rectangular tables in the center of the dining room and they have been replaced by large round tables - that will seat six to eight. Smaller groups are seated in booths that have been here since this restaurant became a Chinese buffet two owners ago and many years back. The booths have cushions that have been worn down to nothing and sitting down I sunk in to the point that my chin was practically on the table - I am not tall but this is just about the worst booth cushion that I have sat on. As soon as I sat down I recalled that this was just like it had been in years past in other booths at this same restaurant. So despite the price reduction they really need to get some new foam upholstery in their booths.

On the side of the building there was a light up sign that said weekday dinners are $8.99. This sign appeared to be permanent. On the front door window there was a handwritten sign in marker that said "Special Tenth Anniversary Celebration Monday to Thursday, Dinner $8.99". That sign was not so permanent and the implication was neither was this price. Interestingly, the check that came out of the computer at the end of our meal was wrung up for two lunch buffets at $8.99. If they have not changed the computer to include this dinner price, is that another indication that this price is not long to remain?

We did not order beverages so I can not say what the price of soft drinks are. Water was fine for us. We started with the soup and there were three soups - wonton, egg drop, and hot and sour. I took the hot and sour and it was not too peppery but spicy which is good. Later during the meal I also tried the broth from the wonton soup and this was very good. Not salty and very nicely flavored.

There are several prepared Asian salads including two with octopus on the cold serving table, along with a tray of mixed greens and salad dressings, prepared deli-style salads, fruits, cold mussels, peel and eat shrimp, and sushi that was mostly salmon and a few vegetable sushi rolls.

At the hot buffet servers there was a broad variety of dishes and hot appetizers including dim sum, steamed shrimp dumplings, deep fried vegetable dumplings, pan friend dumplings, and a deep fried meat dumpling. The usual egg rolls and spring rolls were out on another server. There were also fried cheese wontons, chicken wings, hot dog pieces wrapped in roll dough, overly sweet sauced spare ribs and boneless ribs, and other oriental appetizers.

There was a large number of dishes containing chicken, shrimp, and beef. The problem that we had - BUT YOU WON'T HAVE - is that they are all in some form of sweet sauce. Everything was sweet and contained sugar. This is a problem for my low carb, Diabetic diet. I eat in Chinese buffets weekly and I have not had this problem anyplace. I had a hard time choosing what to eat as all was either in a sweet sauce or was fried with a heavy coating of flour. As I say, this would not be a problem for anyone not on any restricted diet - BUT if you are on a diet then you are going to have the same difficulty that I had (and I saw the resulting blood sugar reading later on after dinner). The food was very good and if I had not restrictions on what I could eat I would have gone to town here and really enjoyed this meal. There was plenty to choose from if you can eat sweet things or high carbohydrates. As it was I refrained from taking some of the carbs that I would usually take at a Chinese buffet such as a sampling of noodles because I knew that I was over doing it with the things that had a lot of sugar in the sauce that it was cooked in. I tried a crispy flounder - covered in a thick sweet sauce and the fish was very good. There was a steamed fish in ginger sauce - the fish was "Skate". I did not try this as the whole time that we were there only the bottom of the three pieces of fish that were in the tray was left, and when I have tried the bottom of steamed fish in the past I have not liked the texture. There was a "triple delight and vegetables" that was not sweet and very good but when I got to the tray there were plenty of vegetables but only one piece of chicken and two shrimp remaining in the tray. As the vegetables remained, they did not replace this dish in the hour and half that we were there. They did bring out more Lemon Chicken - lemon chicken is friend pieces of chicken with a sweet lemon sauce on the side. We both took the chicken and put no sauce on it. The chicken was thickly breaded and overcooked to the point that the chicken was hard. Perhaps with the sauce it would have softened. There were Chinese meatballs that were very good - but again they had a thin sweet sauce on them. There was orange beef, honey chicken, "Italian" chicken, General Tso chicken, sesame chicken, chicken and broccoli (also with a thin, sweet sauce), eggplant in garlic sauce, sauteed string beans, sauteed bokchoy, two dishes with calamari, fried shrimp, salt and pepper shrimp (with the heads on), fried rice, lo mein, and mei fun noodles. There were other dishes as well like scallion pancake and pizza. There was also an American section with a carve yourself turkey breast, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, fried whole fish, salmon, and baked clams. I had thought to myself that I would take the turkey breast and solve the sweet sauce problem but the turkey looked dry - even sliced into and I skipped that as well. I picked and choose and did not go home hungry, but concerned that I really over did the sugar in this meal (as did my wife). Again, something most would not even think about. (And I don't have much concern about in 99% of the buffets that I go to and you know that I go to a lot of buffets - to the point that in all of my articles until this one I don't even mention that I have restrictions to what I can eat.)

There is the same dessert section that there always has been - small squares of commercial cakes, cookies, and a soft serve ice cream machine.

For $8.99 - if you can eat sweet things - you cannot go wrong here. The food is good and there is plenty of it. As I said in the beginning of this article, the weekend price at ten dollars more is adding a taste of lobster (if you are lucky) and crab legs. This is certainly not worth $18.99. If you want a very inexpensive meal that is good, try this on a Monday to Thursday night.

Asian Buffet is located at 276 Old Country Road, Hicksville, New York. The phone number is (516) 433-6688. There is still no website.

Friday, December 10, 2010


This past June I published an article on this site about the Sunburst Buffet at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. What has made Mohegan Sun stand apart from most non-Las Vegas casinos is that it has had two buffet restaurants - Sunburst Buffet and Seasons Buffet. Before I go further let me say that since my visit this past summer, the Sunburst Buffet has closed. There is now only one buffet at Mohegan Sun and from what we could learn while there, the Sunburst Buffet will remain closed. It is no more...

While this was a surprise, it was not a disappointment, as you will understand if you read that article here from last June. We were heading for Connecticut again and the plan this trip was to have dinner at the Seasons Buffet at Mohegan Sun. Many of you must wonder why, when I place so much on value at buffets - do I go to so many casinos. Well, it is not for the gambling. I do not gamble. It is for the food - specifically for the buffet. Seasons has been at Mohegan Sun since the casino/resort complex first opened. It was always considered the lower priced buffet. It was considered the more basic buffet. Now that this is the only buffet at Mohegan Sun, it has borrowed a little of what had been at the Sunburst Buffet- a sample selection of items from the various menu restaurants in the complex. Let me start from the beginning so that you get the full flavor of this buffet.

The buffet is located just off of the floor of the Wolf Den casino - there are several casinos in the complex that closely resembles what a Native American theme park for adults would look like. You pay at the entrance way. The price of the buffet is $16.99 every day for lunch and dinner. There is also a breakfast buffet. Once you have paid you are directed down a short corridor where you are greeted by a hostess who escorts you to your table. The dinner room is large and the buffet serving area fills around the rear wall. The buffet is set up with two sides - both a mirror image of the other and when in full operation both sides serving the same things to accommodate the crowd. Since we were there in November on a weeknight, only half was in operation with the exception of the dessert area which was doubled (and serving the same desserts on both sides.

As always we start with soup and there were two soups. One was Manhattan Clam Chowder (the red clam chowder and interestingly unusual to find in a New England state). The other was something labeled Persian Meatball soup. Of course, I had to try that. As I was ladling it into my cup it looked very much like mushroom barley soup. When I got it back to the table and really could get a good look at it, it looked even more like mushroom barley soup. And that is exactly what it was. No meatballs - nothing Persian. I was minor-ly disappointed, but I do like mushroom barley soup and this one was good. I also went back for a cup of the clam chowder. The clam chowder was full of clam pieces with potatoes and peppers and onions in a thin red broth. The soup was spicy to the taste - the proper Manhattan Clam Chowder spices and herbs but perhaps a bit more seasoned than necessary - yet, again it was good even if my lips burned a bit.

We moved on to the salad bar. The salad bar was small, both in size and what it had to offer. It is split in half by a new cook to order pasta station in the middle of the two salad bar sides. There were three types of lettuce/greens. There were several toppings. The dressings were not labeled except for the Ranch and that was with a serving spoon that said "Ranch" on it. You could guess what the others were - orange color equals French, but then there were several cream color ones and one that may or may not have been creamy Caesar. My intention had been to create a Caesar Salad - but I was taking no chances and the only one to ask was the pasta chef who was very involved with a skillet making pasta dishes to order. So I took the Ranch and moved on. The other side of the pasta station, the salad bar continued with a few prepared salads which included cole slaw, pasta salad, and a very good mozzarella cheese salad with Mediterranean olives. I took some of the cheese and olive salad. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Greek black olives were pitted. The cheese consisted of small braided balls of mozzarella and were nicely fresh. I came back for more of that later on.

Before selecting my first entrees I took a walk along the buffet servers to see what there was. The first server was a flat grill and there were hotdogs cooking. A sign said Nathan's hot dogs. Those from the Northeast - and others with these hot dogs now sold in supermarkets - know that Nathan's Famous is the original Coney Island hot dog. It made the hot dog famous. The hot dogs being grilled at this buffet were the commercial variety of Nathans - in other words - what you find in the supermarkets - which are slightly different than the "real" Nathans sold at their restaurants. For $17, many do not want to eat hot dogs but I was not the only person getting a hot dog - complete with toppings for you to add yourself and served on a bun. I skipped the bun - I like hot dogs. During the meal I had two. Along the line there were buffalo wings, a carving station with roast loin of pork, a large steamship round of beef, and turkey breast, an area with Chinese dishes including sweet and sour chicken, shrimp and vegetable lo mein, and fried rice, an area with two large, square, thick pizzas - one cheese pizza and a white and spinach pizza, and then there were a row of hot chafing servers. Here there was garlic mashed potatoes, a Sicilian vegetable stew, fish Florentine, Pasta Carbonara, vegetables, macaroni and cheese, and more. Along the way there were baked beans, sauteed onions, and sauteed mushrooms. There was also an area with a variety of gravies to top the carvings. Of course, as mentioned, there was also the Pasta Station where you select the type of pasta and sauce and could add a variety of meats such as chicken and ham to your pasta dish. A chef was there cooking to your order. As everything here was made to your specification there was a short line leading up to the chef. On a crowded night this line could be much longer - though there is a second pasta station when the whole buffet serving area is open.

There was plenty to eat and it was good, solid food to choose from. At first it did not give the appearance that there was a lot to choose from. In fact I heard several people when first walking through make a comment that there was not a lot being offered for $17.00, but really there was and what is more - and what I could not say about the former Sunburst Buffet - the food was really good.

I always do a tasting selection - a little of everything of what I like and then go back for more of what I really enjoyed. The steamship round of beef is a large roast beef that has been cooked to offer a variety of doneness to the beef. I wanted rare and the carver carved me a slice from a section that was rare. Others asked for well done and medium and that was there too. The portions were generous and my wife had to tell the carver to give her less turkey than he was offering.

I tried the fish Florentine - what must have been flounder in a cream sauce with spinach garnish. The fish was a bit dry and while the sauce was tasty it did not add enough to the fish. This was the only dish that I passed up on when I returned. I also tried the Pasta Carbonara which was good. This is Pasta coal miners style. When I have had it in the past it usually is pasta in tomato sauce with bacon tossed with beaten eggs and cheese. Here it was not bacon but a chopped meat finding its way into the ear-shaped pasta in a thickened red sauce which did have cheese mixed in and I am sure beaten egg as well. The taste was good and it tempted me back for more.

The one dish that both my picky eater wife and I enjoyed a lot was the Sicilian Vegetable Stew. What looked like chunks of potatoes were actually yellow squash. There was also green squash, onions, and peppers in a spicy red sauce. The sauce was wonderful and we kept trying to guess what was in it (my wife thought she would like to try making this at home - it was that good). We both enjoyed this dish very much.

Over at the dessert area there were also biscuits and rolls to have with your meal. The dessert area was extensive and there was also a section with sugar free cakes, pies, and muffins. Of the regular desserts there were fresh strawberries with whipped cream near by to mound on top, puddings, bread pudding, jello, cakes, pies, cheesecake, and vanilla and chocolate soft-serve frozen yogurt. Over by the salad bar there were also trays of fresh fruits. Everything was tempting.

We both had a filling and satisfying meal. There was nothing that I would say that was missing from this buffet. It was not "fancy" as some casino buffets try to be, nor was it plain.

The meal includes soft drinks (which are refilled by your server) and you are offered coffee or tea with dessert (or more soft drinks if you prefer). We had a very good server who cleared dishes each time we left the table to get more and she offered refills of our drinks without our looking for her to ask for them. This was very different from our server at Sunburst.

What we were able to learn is that Sunburst will not reopen BUT this buffet - Seasons - will temporarily move into the space that Sunburst had been in - along with all of the Seasons staff, menu, and chefs, while the Seasons room gets some renovation, particularly the addition of rest rooms inside the dining room (now you have to leave the restaurant and use the restrooms near the casino. Once complete, Seasons Buffet will move back to where it is now. We could not find out when this will happen other than "soon".

It is important to note for those with children that there is a children's price - $9.43 - and that this casino complex is laid out so that children can move around all of the complex without entering a casino area. There is no problem bringing a child to get to the buffet. The complex includes a shopping mall and a children's game area. (Plus a crystal glass mountain and waterfall, and a wall of water.

I very much recommend Seasons Buffet at the Mohegan Sun Casino/Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut. Go and enjoy. If you gamble, you will enjoy that too - and there are FREE concerts in the middle of the Wolf Den casino with some big names on Friday and Saturday nights. There are free concerts every night but the names were not as big.

There is a web page listed at the side of this page for Seasons Buffet.

Friday, December 03, 2010

D.J.'s International Buffet - One more time...

It has been almost a year since I have written about D.J.'s International Buffet in Garden City, New York. I have been there several times since my last article but I thought that I would come back now and let you know how things are.

The rebirth of this buffet had a bumpy start several years ago when it closed for renovations and reopened sometime later as much less of its former self. It had been a favorite of many. It took a few years to get it back to speed and now it is close to its former glory.

This is a large Asian buffet with a mix of foods from Asian to Italian. The price is not inexpensive - $24.99 per adult on the weekend (Friday through Sunday) with an additional $1.25 for unlimited fountain soft drinks. Monday through Thursday dinner is $17.99. This is one of the most expensive Asian buffets in the area. The meal is extensive and the food is good so the price is justified - NOW - for what you are paying. But for some of us, this is not something that is affordable every week, and I reserve this for dinners when I want something special.

The sushi bar is now extensive. There is a long sushi bar with sushi chefs standing behind the bar and preparing fresh sushi as needed. I have seen people request special rolls and sushi and it has been made for them. There is a large assortment already out and there is a nice variety of raw fish just on its own without rice or in a roll. I like their seared tuna. I like many of the sushi that they have to offer and some of it is labeled as to what it is. The chefs will tell you what something is if you don't recognize it.

There are several soups. The lobster bisque is good but it varies - it should be thick. It has been thick and thin. The taste is there regardless and there are small pieces of lobster in the salmon color red broth. Of course, there are the usual Chinese soups, clam chowder, and on this night, Italian Wedding Soup.

The salad bar is sparse. There is a little assortment, but if you want to fix a green salad there is enough there. There is also a crock of mixed black and green Mediterranean olives. These fit in with the international fare.

The dumpling selection varies but there are several to choose from and away from the steam table and on the nearest hot buffet table there are fried dumplings as well. Next to the dumplings there are grilled meats on skewers - nicely seasoned chicken and also nicely seasoned beef. There are also shrimp and sausage sticks.

There is also an assortment of cold seafood including shrimp, salmon, clams on the half shell, raw oysters, and half cold crabs. Some may recall the large, already peeled shrimp from the old days - now the shrimp is in the shell. There have also been on occasion cold crab legs here - in addition to the hot crab legs on the buffet server.

They have entrees that range from American to Italian, to Chinese - with a little bit of mix in between. The are often some unusual dishes included and each time I come there are a few changing and different dishes. This night there was beef stew, small chicken pot pies, and a Chinese sausage and tofu dish. I tried the beef stew which was tasty but grizzly and the Chinese sausage and tofu. There were no longer pieces of sausage left in the serving bowl. There were two pieces of tofu which I found turning the contents over several times with the serving spoon. They came up from the bottom and I took one of them. The rest of the dish was bean pods, sliced water chestnuts, sliced carrots, and onion. It was in a mild and thin brown sauce. The taste was very good. I really wanted to try Chinese sausage but the serving bowl remained the same for the rest of the evening - half full but with all of the sausage and the tofu taken out. There was plenty more to take so other than a minor disappointment of not finding what was a surprise to find in the first place, it did not matter much.

One of the big draws here are the crab legs served every night and the lobster in ginger sauce which is served only on the weekend dinners. The lobster is cut up into chunks. Depending on who is dining and the crowd you will get lobster easily or you will stand in a line waiting for a new tray to come out which will be descended upon by those in line and if you are lucky there will be pieces worth taking when you get up to your turn. They do regularly refill the lobster so it is likely that if you keep an eye on that part of the buffet you may just get to be the first on line. There are also nights without much of a crowd - or later on any one of the nights - where you can walk right up to the tray and take your pick. I find it interesting that the most meaty part of the lobster - the tails - are not always taken first, and if you move the pieces around in the tray with the serving tongs you will find sections of tail with large chunks of lobster meat.

If you feel that you would like even more then there are two carvings - Peking duck and Prime Rib of Beef. These are over by the grill and the dumplings.

Dessert offers an interesting assortment of fresh fruit, puddings, a large flan full of custard and covered in melted sugar, hard ice cream that you serve yourself from a freezer chest, and a large assortment of the little cake squares that are found at most Asian buffets. I call these "Little Debbie" cakes because they are the size and quality of the cakes by that name found in supermarkets in the snack cake aisle. Just in case you want something different for dessert they now are making - over at the grill - made to order hot crepes filled with your choice of filling and covered in gobs of whipped cream.

There is enough to eat. The food is good. Something I did not say when they first reopened. If you don't mind spending a little more then this is a good choice. I know readers that have traveled several states to come here - mostly for the lobster - that is a lot of gas to use and pay for to get lobsters. But, nevertheless, they have come and come back.

D.J.'s International Buffet is located at 1100 Stewart Avenue in Garden City, New York. Their phone number is 516-227-2472. The hours of the restaurant are Lunch Monday to Friday, 11:00am to 3:00pm;Brunch Saturday and Sunday 11:30am to 3:00pm; Dinner Monday to Thursday, 4:00pm to 10:00pm, Friday to Sunday, 4:00pm to 10:00pm. There is still no website.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Thanksgiving at a Buffet

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about having your Thanksgiving meal at a buffet restaurant. Well, this year, we did exactly that. We have been looking through the newspaper advertisements for several weeks, going through the internet for local restaurants serving buffet, and considering the suggestions made by readers of the article. By the way, thank you all who made suggestions! What we encountered was that in this area where the only "American-food" buffets are Old Country Buffets was that either catering halls or menu restaurants were serving a "buffet" Thanksgiving dinner between certain hours on Thanksgiving Day. Some were describing the meal as "brunch" which would be served until early evening. Most were specifying a time limit to your "seating" of one hour and a half. We have had holiday meals like this in the past and what we have encountered at these restaurants is that their employees are not happy about working on a holiday, the restaurant is not accustomed to the art of serving a buffet, and they are all to eager to get you out so that the next group may come in. No one was talking about serving a whole turkey. Turkey breast was what was "featured" - some with fancy variations there of. We went up to a week before Thanksgiving deciding what we were going to do - and making a meal for two at home remained on the list of choices. I like turkey. I am not fond of turkey breast. I find that it has a different texture and taste than "real" turkey. So if I was going to eat turkey breast for Thanksgiving then what went with it was going to be important to where ever we chose. Prices ranged from $30 per person to $50 per person. Looking over what each meal was offering with the turkey there were going to be a lot of things that we both don't care for or we cannot eat. We were becoming more and more frustrated and then I suggested that we go to Old Country Buffet.

Those of you who read this site regularly know that I am not a great fan of Old Country Buffet. I should say that I am not a great fan of our local Old Country Buffet. But we have been frequenting another Old Country Buffet that involves a bit of a drive from where we live, but is far superior to the local restaurant. That would be where we would go - and that is where we did go. I did make sure that there actually would be a Thanksgiving menu served including the traditional dishes and checking at the OCB this past weekend I was assured that there would be. OCB would be open to 7:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day. Instead of $30 or $50 per person, dinner - pretty much the same dinner as would be served at all of those other restaurants - would cost the regular price of $10.99 plus $1.99 for beverages. I did have my concerns that trays would be replenished, turkey would not run out, and that there would not be a line a mile long to get in.

We decided to get to the OCB for 3:00 pm. A good time for Thanksgiving dinner and close to the traditional time for my family for this holiday. We arrived just about that time and there was a short line - about a dozen people ahead of us and a good part of that were large parties. We waited just five minutes to get to the cashier. The manager was seating people at tables. This is Mr. Jolly who I wrote about several weeks ago. He greeted each group and led them to their table. Those he knew - and that was quite a few - he greeted like family and old friends. Despite having to work on the holiday he was making this a very pleasant experience. I will add right here - though out of time sequence - that while we were dining, a family came up to him and thanked him about the dinner saying that they really appreciated that the meal was so pleasant and that it really meant a lot to them. His response was one that every buffet manager should remember - always! He said, "I thank you. If it were not for you coming today, I could not feed my family." He said this with sincerity. If only all OCB managers had this attitude - holiday or not.

So, we were seated and we started our meal. The menu served for the holiday meal was similar to a Sunday menu at OCB but with some significant differences geared toward the holiday. There were three soups - chicken noodle, corn chowder, AND French onion soup. I had the French onion - which I know is served on some night at OCB but rarely a night I am there. It was full of onions and just slightly salty. It was good! My wife had the chicken noodle which was full of noodles. You may wonder why it would not be but there is a certain other OCB that should rename the soup chicken celery soup because that is all that is in it on most nights.

Following the soup there was the usual OCB salad bar and I had the Caesar salad which at this OCB I can always count on having a good amount of dressing on it. (Again, at another certain OCB the Caesar salad is wet lettuce with a tablespoon of dressing mixed into the entire tray.) I am sure that this Caesar salad was just like the others that I have had at this location but today it was particularly good - perhaps it was just the festive feel of the meal.

Festive - that is something that I need to note right here. There was a holiday feel to this meal and that was created in no small part by the people working. The table staff seemed pleased (even if they weren't) to be working. So did the people working at the buffet, the two managers, and the gentleman expertly carving. People were greeted. "Happy Thanksgiving" could be heard and there was the feeling in the restaurant that this is a holiday. There were singles, couples, small families, and large families all around the dining room and at the buffet servers. There were quite a few singles coming in - and what better place to have a holiday meal with people all around when you dine alone. (My wife had an idea for the restaurant and perhaps some manager will read this and do this next year - there should be a table set aside as an option for singles to sit together and have company. It could be offered and just as easily refused if someone wanted to sit at their own table. All that this would mean for the restaurant was holding two tables put together for this ever changing group.) There were a number of children with their families and all were properly behaved.

Back to the meal. Time for turkey. The turkey was, as expected, the usual OCB turkey breast. There was also roast beef and baked ham. On the buffet tables there was baked chicken, fried chicken, and chicken with dumplings. There also was baked moscatelle - macaroni with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese and there was pizza. There was green beans with ham (the new way to serve green beans at OCB replacing the plain green beans of the past0, carrots, corn, candied mashed sweet potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, mashed white potatoes, baked potatoes with bacon and cheese, macaroni and cheese, stuffing (two trays), squash, and a dish of rice and vegetables in melted cheese sauce (never saw this at OCB before). The taco bar had the usual. There were corn bread and baked rolls. Of course, cranberry sauce was over at the condiments bar. (A few times I heard the manager telling people - and pointing - "The cranberry sauce is over here!")

The carver was working continually. Ask for a thick or thin slice, one slice or several, it was given without hesitation. All of the trays on the buffet tables were constantly and quickly being refilled. Anything that was empty was replaced without much delay. The people moving about the buffet tables were not over-crowding and there were no long waits to get to anyone one of the food trays or the carving station - despite the good number of people dining. All along the manager went around the dining room when not seating newly entering guests, and greeted people, asked how things were, and then went to check that all was well at the buffet tables. And he never looked harried.

The dessert area was as usual. There was no pumpkin pie that I could see - but OCB never has pies. Not a major loss though for some this could be missed. But pumpkin pie is easy enough to come by to add in when one gets back home.

The meal was good. One of the best that I have ever had at Old Country Buffet - and there was not really much that I have not had there before. While I write this I am still feeling over-stuffed from this very fine Thanksgiving dinner. (Oh yes, I try to avoid that over doing it, after meal feeling when I eat at buffets - but this is a holiday after all!)

When the meal was over - about two hours after we began - my wife agreed that the meal was good and we had a good time. That was what I was looking for. When it is just the two of you, married for a long time, meals alone together can be less than festive - despite trying to make them so. This was a great idea. We got to "share" the day with others - even though we knew no one in the restaurant - and we had a good meal that we both enjoyed. I am very glad that we made the decision to go to OCB for Thanksgiving. I am not certain that we would have felt this way following a meal at one of those other restaurants.

Thanksgiving meals have different things for different families. Not everyone has turkey. Here there was a good selection - and even the kids were happy with pizza and macaroni and cheese. Of course, this is not something for everyone. For those with big families, craving granny's special sweet potato casserole, this is not going to be the thing to do, but as I have said before. For those who find cooking a full Thanksgiving meal for one, two, or a few, this is a wonderful way to spend a very pleasant holiday and have a good meal. Just know your OCB before hand and be sure that it is one that usually does a good job on ordinary days, and you should not be disappointed on the holiday.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Had to Check Back on Shady Maple

Several weeks ago I wrote an article about some changes at Shady Maple and in that article I commented on two problems that we observed while we were there. As I said, then problems at Shady Maple are highly unusual.

It was my wife's birthday recently and we headed down to Lancaster County for the day as we do for both of our birthdays. Dinner was to be Shady Maple and my wife would get her free birthday dinner there.

This was a Monday night at the beginning of November. We were surprised when arrived at how crowded the parking lot was. We have been to Shady Maple many times and they have been very crowded at many times so this should not be a surprise - but on a weeknight in November? This was odd. We went in and the restaurant was just as crowded as the parking lot - should that be any surprise at all? We never did find out why but needless to say, Shady Maple is very popular no matter what night or time of the year.

Dinner was wonderful as usual. This time there were no surprises. Nothing whatsoever was wrong. I feel that this is important for my readers to see because one of my regular readers commented that based upon my concern over the last visit, perhaps he was not going to go there for the first time. Please do go. Every restaurant can have an off night and every business has a few employees that should no better. Generally they are dealt with by a concerned manager. And Shady Maple sure had its act all together again!

That afternoon we were in a shop some distance away from Shady Maple but still in Lancaster County. We overheard a couple asking the sales clerk for directions to Shady Maple. The clerk told them how to go and then took them aside and said - "Let me tell you all about Shady Maple...". She then went on to tell them how wonderful it is and that when they walk in they will think from the appearance that this must be some big chain establishment BUT don't be fooled by the elegant decor because this is a business run by a husband and wife who established the farm stand that grew into the snack bar that grew into this restaurant. She told them the whole history of Shady Maple (which I have told here once or twice in the past).

So the meal was as expected - excellent. They had wonderful smoked sausages out on the buffet. These were much nicer than any I have had at other restaurants - buffet or not. Monday is always steak night and they had three grills going with Delmonico, NY Strip, and chopped steaks. On the side there were sauteed onions and sauteed mushrooms to top the steaks. They were also grilling smoked pork chops. At Shady Maple your steak is cooked to your order so if you want rare and they don't have one ready, one goes on for you and you get rare. The same for every degree of cooking that you like. You can either wait right there at the grill as it cooks or go off to the buffet servers and get the rest of your plate and then come right back and pick up your steak - as you like it. Steaks are sliced thin but, of course, you get as many as you want - so they don't need to be any thicker.

I am not going to go into another full and detailed description of Shady Maple. If you want to see that just go back to any one of the articles that I have written about it on this site - or read the Best Buffet article that began 2010.

Go there. Do not hesitate. It is an experience that is worth the trip. I am not sure there is any larger restaurant anywhere - buffet or not buffet - that is in full time operation.

Shady Maple Smorgasbord is located at 129 Toddy Drive in East Earl, PA. Take Route 23 East or Route 322 South to get to the restaurant. The phone numbers are 1-800-238-7363 and 717-354-8222. There is a website and it is listed at the side of this page.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Buffet for Thanksgiving

There are a lot of people without a large family 0r with no family at all who would like to dine on a holiday like Thanksgiving with people around. One way to do this is to go to a buffet. This is different from a menu restaurant because - buffet dining tends to be more social. Go to a menu restaurant and you sit at your table and have no interaction with the people at the tables around you. At buffets, however, you get up, you encounter people around the buffet servers, and, interestingly, people seem to interact from table to table - not always, but it is common. Some people just don't like to cook the whole holiday meal, so a buffet is also a way to have that meal and enjoy the day away from the kitchen.

We have been thinking about going to a buffet this Thanksgiving. The trick is in finding one - and one that is going to orient its menu to the typical holiday fare. In some locales there are many good possibilities. In others the possibilities are slim.

This is a big family oriented holiday and many buffets close on Thanksgiving to allow their employees to spend the day with their families. Some of the best buffets that I know of are closed on that day. But there are a number that are open and have special Thanksgiving buffets. In the area with probably more buffet restaurants than any other place -Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, two of the better buffets will be serving Thanksgiving dinner buffets - Family Cupboard and Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant. Both require reservations in advance because they sell out quickly before the holiday.

Old Country Buffet is open on Thanksgiving until 7:00 pm and though they have not stated that there will be any special menu, I would hope that they will be featuring turkey in addition to their usual Thursday dinner menu. On a personal note, to me this would be a last choice - only because the meal is going to be pretty much like all other days at OCB - nothing against them - just that processed turkey is not my idea of Thanksgiving. OCB has no mention of Thanksgiving on their website, but there is notices about it at the restaurants. (Old Country Buffet is closed on Christmas.)

I cannot find anything about Golden Corral and do not have one near to visit to find out. It is likely that they too will be open for Thanksgiving. Actually, the Golden Corral website is a bit disappointing with no details about individual restaurants at all other than location - and nothing about hours or days closed.

Casino buffets do tend to have holiday oriented meals on holidays. Most casino buffets have chefs that will go a little beyond the usual for a holiday meal. Of course, going to a casino is not everyone's idea of a family holiday, but the meal (depending on the buffet) should be lavish.

I have found that local to me a number of menu restaurants are having a buffet meal on Thanksgiving. If we do decide to go buffet for Thanksgiving, this would likely be what we would do - go to one of these restaurants (the four plus hours each way to PA is not a good idea on any holiday, nor is a trip up to Connecticut or Atlantic City to a casino). How good these meals are will depend upon the restaurant, their employees, and the value of what is being provided. These meals are priced high and there is little advertised before hand as to what will be included on the buffet. There are several drawbacks when a menu restaurant offers buffet. They may or not may know how to do this properly - keep up with the demand, refill serving stations, and anticipate what they will need for the meals to be sold. There can also be a problem with employees who are not used to the idea of making sure that tables are kept cleared of used plates, drinks are refilled, and that tables cannot be ignored. We have encountered problems with employees who just don't want to be working on the holiday (we used to buffet on Christmas Eve and a few times on Easter) and have the attitude that you need to hurry and leave so that they can go home. These are chances that you take. Those coming to these restaurants for the buffet will also tend to be more formal and less casual than people you will find in one of your usual buffet favorites - so the social aspect also may be missing (which is the reason you may have chosen to go to a buffet for the holiday in the first place).

Do a web search for Thanksgiving buffet and pages and pages come up. Many places that you might not even think of are having Thanksgiving buffets including museums, attractions, conference centers, catering halls, and restaurants. Take a look and you may find something that will be very special for Thanksgiving.

There are still two weeks to Thanksgiving and I have published this article with this timing so that you may respond. If you know of a Thanksgiving buffet that you may recommend please leave a comment here. Let us all know - no matter the location. There may be someone near there who will thank you for the suggestion!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Where's the Beef!?!

I recently received coupons from Old Country Buffet by email. They were to introduce me to their new feature - seasoned steaks and steak classics. The email title very specifically stated "Come enjoy our new steak classics tonight" and the coupon was good to November fourth. I said to myself, hmm - OCB has not had steak on most nights in a long time. This new steak feature is something to try out.

We went to the "good" OCB a few days after receiving the coupon. It was a Sunday night. I purposely made the drive all the way out to make sure that if there was steak to be found, I actually would find it. Needless to say - no steak. To borrow from that old commercial that probably few will remember but created quite a media stir a long time ago - I said - WHERE'S THE BEEF?

It was the usual Sunday night buffet offerings - nothing to complain about (at least there at the "good" OCB) but no steaks. Perhaps I did not remember the coupon correctly - maybe it said steaks only on some nights? The did accept the coupon when we paid at the cashier- it was nice to get the $3 off per meal - with the purchase of the beverage bar with each meal - so all in all we got the drinks and saved one dollar each. But it was the steak that I was after. And never having had steak at the "good" OCB I wanted to see how they cooked it and if it was left out to turn from medium rare to well, well done in a warming tray at the carving station - as happens at the "not good" OCB. When I got home I pulled the coupon email up on my computer screen - I remembered it exactly right - "come tonight... steak!"

I then checked the OCB website to see what was said about the feature. There I found no feature. They were pushing some television commercial that I have never seen on television. So was this the feature that does not exist. Send a coupon to lure you in for the same old, same old? Apparently so.

While we were there my wife, who could not care less for steak, was looking at the advertising card that is placed on every table. There was a photo of a plate with two very appetizing chicken breasts that were covered in some type of marinade. She asked me, "How come they never have that chicken?" Good question. Another photo ad on the same card showed an appealing dish of macaroni and whole pieces of tomatoes - not a sauce but more like a salad. This ad beckoned one to come for lunch. I have never seen that dish served as well.

Since this meal, we went back during the week - just to see if we would find this steak feature. It was on a Wednesday night this time - and still no steak. It was no surprise - I really did not expect to find steak.

So what is the story Old Country Buffet- and Buffets, Inc.? Where are the steaks you lured me in for? "Steak classics" -" seasoned steak in a variety of flavors" - all stated on the ad that accompanied the coupon... So WHERE'S THE BEEF?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mr. Grumpy and Mr. Jolly - A Tale of Two Managers

This is a tale of two managers of two different Old Country Buffets. Each OCB is located about twenty miles from the other. The manager I see most at one of these OCB's I have been calling - to myself - Mr. Grumpy. The other at this other OCB I have been calling - again to myself - Mr. Jolly. These two managers are as different as night and day and so are the two restaurants. Guess which one is the better of the two Old Country Buffets.

Each time that I go into the OCB that Mr. Grumpy works at, I see Mr. Grumpy frowning. It is clear that he does not like his job and his attitude and his face show it. This is also reflected in his employees who do not seem to like (or understand) their jobs. Mr. Grumpy stays by the cashier most of the time. He does not smile to customers and the only time that I have observed a smile was with one of the employees - and that is rare. And that time that I saw him smiling it was during a conversation with an employee in which they were both complaining about their jobs (in front of the customers). He has, on more than one occasion, said the absolutely wrong things to customers when they have sought him out for help. I witnessed and overheard a customer inform him on a Friday night when steak is supposed to be served that steak had not been brought out in over thirty minutes. The customer made the comment that steak cooks on a grill in less than ten minutes - and with no apology from Mr. Grumpy to the customer about no steak (and most other meats not being available that should have been out) that no, steak takes much longer to cook and when it comes out, it comes out. Often the trays here are empty or are taken away and replaced with a totally unlike item - rolls for vegetables, a second tray of potatoes for meat. I have seen Mr. Grumpy say to customers "What do you want that there is no turkey, roast beef, or ham - we have brought this out instead - to the cry of a customer that "this" is not what they came for or paid for - they came for the meats that are featured that night. Mr. Grumpy just shrugged - again, no apology. Well, that is not a way to treat any customer - if you want that customer to return. And perhaps if the customer's went away, Mr. Grumpy would get his desire to not have to work there any longer.

Now, there is Mr. Jolly. Again, at an Old Country Buffet just twenty miles from the other. Mr. Jolly is a large man who when seen always has a smile on his face. He is generally in the dining room walking around the tables and talking with the patrons. He seems to always be laughing with them and happy to see them. He greets return customers as if they are old friends and greets new customers as well. He looks like he really enjoys his job. Perhaps he hates it just as much as Mr. Grumpy but he never shows it - but I think he really likes what he is doing. Mr. Jolly also keeps an eye on his employees and the buffet tables. Whenever something is running low it is replaced - and if something runs out - and that understandably can happen - it is replaced with a similar item. Another type of meat for a meat and another type of vegetable for a vegetable. I have seen whole roast beefs, hams, and turkeys brought out to carve just before closing. Something that would just not happen at that other OCB.

Mr. Jolly's employees seem happy to work for him as well. They are prompt to clear dirty dishes off of diner's tables, they make sure there is ice at the beverage station, and that plates, glasses, and cups are always available. Mr. Jolly's floors are always clean - and the daily traffic at both OCB's are equal. In fact, Mr. Jolly's OCB is located at a large shopping mall and there is a stream of customers who come while and after shopping during the day. When asked if more ice tea will be made when the dispenser was empty, one of Mr. Jolly's employees said, of course, and immediately started making it. Now, that you are paying for beverages at OCB, Mr. Jolly makes sure that you are getting what you are now paying for. (At Mr. Grumpy's OCB once the ice tea dispenser is empty it stays empty.)

I have written before that the management can make or break a buffet. A Mr. Jolly will have happy customers and his restaurant will be a credit to the chain. A Mr. Grumpy will have customers who have negative things to say about his restaurant and do the company a world of damage - and these customers have been commenting such on this site about this particular OCB for years - and interestingly, it has not always been the same Mr. Grumpy managing this location. But for some reason this OCB seems to get an excess of managers who come and go who are also Mr. Grumpys. Now. does OCB corporate - which is Buffets Inc. care? They seem not to because if you use the comment section on their website or send them a letter it just gets passed along to Mr. Grumpy at the restaurant who does not care, does not change, and it is no surprise as this is Mr. Grumpy to form. Certainly there is never a sign on the door that says dinner is half price tonight because we are out of just about everything - no people are let in, to pay the full price, and then scoffed at when they expect to get what they paid for. Do I expect to pay less because they are not putting food out - of course not - but I do expect to get everything that I am paying for. Even at $10.99 with $1.99 for beverages (yes, that beverage price has now been increased - an easy way to gradually push the price back up without much notice), money these days is hard earned and this, for some of us, is a significant outlay.

I now drive the twenty extra miles to eat at Mr. Jolly's OCB. I am sure that if Mr. Grumpy is reading this he is saying, "Good riddance!" - as his employees and perhaps he has posted as comment on this site in the past. With the price of gas going up, this is not something that I should have to do when there is an OCB less than three miles from me. But if I want OCB - and I do like OCB (depending on the location), if I want a buffet meal without aggravation and Mr. Grumpy, I have to go the distance. There are and will be occasions when I can't do that and I go to visit Mr. Grumpy's restaurant and hope.

Now, I must add that we went on a night that Mr. Jolly was not working, and while the restaurant was still a great deal better - it was noticeably not the same as when Mr. Jolly is around. Service was not entirely the same and there were a few items that did not get replaced when emptied. So this just illustrates even more the importance of a manager in a buffet!

I hope that at your OCB the manager is a Mr. Jolly too!

Friday, October 22, 2010

China Grand Buffet - Farmingdale, NY - Once More

Wow! I did not realize that it has been five years since I wrote about this buffet. China Grand Buffet is located in Farmingdale, New York. For a long time I was a weekly regular at this buffet. We would go just about every Friday night. We stopped going about two years ago when the prices went up higher than what this buffet was offering. It was hitting almost $16 an adult on the weekend for dinner and this was out of line with other local Chinese buffets. In addition, the selection of food on the buffet never changed, and frankly, I became very tired of the same things each time that we went. So we stopped going.

On a recent Saturday night we decided that we would go back and see if anything has changed. It was nice to find the price lower - now $14.99 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Weeknights are $12.99. Unfortunately, the food selection was pretty much as it had been. We could have just been there last week rather than almost two years ago. Compared to some other buffets that I have been to recently, this buffet was crowded and the dining room was full throughout the time that we were there.

The food is fine. There is nothing wrong with what is being served. But if you want to go several times to find a variety, you will not find anything different each time that you go (with the exception of some dishes missing on weeknights or at lunch). Not only is everything the same but it is in the same places on the buffet.

Service on this particular night was OK once it got started, but we were seated and it took at least ten minutes to be noticed for one of the servers to come over and take our drink orders. Drinks are unlimited but are not included in the price. Once we started eating, our plates were cleared and once one of the young ladies came over to ask if we wanted refills of our drinks. When we were done and ready to leave - just as when we came in -no one came by to give us our check. We had to flag down one of the ladies to get it. At times it seemed like our table was invisible to the table staff.

So what did we have. Soup selection is basic with one additional soup that is out of the ordinary - and on this visit that was chicken corn soup. Obviously, Chinese Chicken Corn Soup and not Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Corn Soup. (So - OK - this additional soup does change - well, at least it was not there two years ago.) The other soups are hot and sour, egg drop, and won ton. The hot and sour soup was not too hot and spicy and in my opinion that is a good thing. Some Chinese buffets put so much red pepper flakes in the hot and sour soup that it is inedible.

There is peel and eat shrimp, a small selection of sushi on rice and rolls, clams on the half shell and a variety of salads on the cold bar.

In hot foods there are a LOT of fried foods. Just about everywhere you look there is something that is fried . Fried shrimp, fried fish, fried crab claw, fried chicken, fried calamari, fried crab Rangoon, and on. They do a lot of frying. There are the usual egg rolls and summer rolls. There are three dumplings to choose from in steamers and also fried dumplings.

If you read my other articles about this buffet you are going to see mention of lobster. There is no more lobster on the buffet. This happened about three years ago when we were still going semi-regularly and just about when the price went up - price increase, lobster gone. There are still crab legs and they did refill the server several times with legs while we were there. These are small, separate legs and not full clusters. There is hot butter sauce near by the tray of crab legs.

The hot dishes are mostly the standards for Chinese buffets - chicken with broccoli, beef with peppers, General Tsao Chicken. There is also hot and spicy chicken, spicy tofu and vegetables, stuffed mushrooms, stuffed baked clams, a tray of baked salmon, crab (but not real crab) baked with cheese, sauteed string beans, bok choy, french fries, chicken on a stick, stuffed peppers, lo mein, mei fun, fried rice, white rice (no brown rice), sweet chicken meatballs, and other dishes.

Before and again this time, I take from different dishes and create my own - some chicken from the chicken and broccoli, some beef from the beef and peppers, both combined with string beans and bok choy. This buffet also still offers a grill station - like a Mongolian grill - in a window into a small cooking area, right to the side of the buffet tables. Then and now - this is open but no one ever seems to go and have anything cooked there. One problem perhaps is there is no one there to cook. There is a refrigerator case that has vegetables and meat, but the glass on the case is so fogged over that it is hard to tell what is in there - and everyone seems to ignore it. This actually would make this buffet more interesting as you could create anything that you desire. There is a counter bell to ring to get someone to cook. On this night someone asked one of the servers about it. The server brought her over to the window and showed her and then hit the bell - DING - and no one came out. I kept looking to see what would happen. When we left that night there was still nothing cooked on that grill. Despite large signs over the window - BUFFET INCLUDES GRILL - if you have to stand on your head to get someone to come out and cook, what good is it?

Dessert is the basic Chinese buffet Little Debbie cake assortment. There is also soft serve ice cream, fruit, pudding, and jello.

Now, this is very important. I eat at A LOT of Chinese and Asian buffets. Very rarely do I react to what we are going to guess is MSG in the food. Most use it, I am sure. It can give one sensitive to it a headache. I am mildly sensitive to it. But as I said, almost never have I had a headache at a Oriental buffet. Before I left this restaurant I had a walloping headache. Something - or everything - had to have had a heck of a lot of MSG in it.

Would I go back? Probably, but not right away. Would I recommend this buffet? Hmm. I want to say yes, but with note of everything that I have written in this article.

The China Grand Buffet is located in a strip mall shopping center next the Republic Airport in the Airport Plaza shopping center at 201 Airport Plaza Boulevard in Farmingdale, NY. It is just off of Route 110. There is a website and this is listed at the side of this page.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Someone Please Explain Why...

There is one thing that I consistently have seen at buffets since I started going to them many years ago. It seems to be universal and makes no real sense at all. Someone please explain why people have a need at a buffet to take one plate and pile an entire meal on it. Each food spooned on in quantity, one on top of the other.

I have seen the oddest things piled high on top of each other on plates at buffets. The all time oddest was the lady who took her plate with a steak fresh from the grill on it and go over to the ice cream soft serve machine and place serving of vanilla ice cream on top of the steak - followed by a variety of other foods from the serving bar. I have seen the cup of soup put on the plate with salad all around it and the rest of the meal including dessert piled on top. I want to go over and ask, "Hey, don't you know that you can go back as many times as you want?". Will this be a major revelation?

There are buffets where you can take all you want in one trip to the server and there I could understand taking a variety and quantity all on the same plate within reason. The same would be the case with take out buffet meals. But, come on people, when you come into a regular buffet, all you care to eat, restaurant, you are allowed to go back to the serving area as many times as you like. You may take as many plates as you like and fill those plates as many times as you like (each time a clean plate, please).

It gets to be ridiculous, sometimes disgusting. One food on top of the other goes on the plate. Each food mixing into whatever came before it. No room to even cut what is on the plate with a knife to eat it. And certainly, not a "normal" way to eat.

In most buffets one does not need to be concerned that on the next trip back up to the serving area, what you saw before won't be there. (True at some buffets, but I will not go into that right now.) Interrupting the meal to go up and get more is no different than waiting for courses to be served by a waiter.

Is there any rational explanation for it? I can't come up with one.

This is one reason why buffets have such a bad reputation in the food world and can be completely blamed on those who dine at buffets rather than the buffets themselves. It is certainly clear going in if you can go up as many times as you like or if you are limited to one trip - and frankly if you are limited to one trip and you like buffets why are you dining there? Buffets get a bad rap. Is it any wonder with people eating like this? I have come across a very nasty definition of the word "buffet" using the letters of the word to describe the people eating there. I will not reveal this now - maybe someday, but it really is nasty. I have also heard buffet dining described as "hogs at a trough". All of this sadly is how many think of us and buffet dining.

So comment back on this article. Please explain a rational and reasonable reason why you or any one eats this way. Maybe I am missing some key element here. Though I doubt it.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Something New At Shady Maple

It is not often that something changes at Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl, Lancaster County, PA. There are specials from time to time but recently there is a new, and seemingly permanent addition to the offerings at this great buffet. Shady Maple has added an Asian Food Station.

On a recent trip I had the opportunity to check this out. This new grill station takes up the "rear" grill area. On the night that we were there (a Thursday night in September). This may be only found on Thursday nights as it is listed on the website as one of the Thursday night features. The grill was manned by an Asian man and an Asian woman who were doing the cooking. They were cooking made to order teriaki dishes - chicken, beef, or shrimp and vegetables in teriaki sauce. This was served with your choice of Fried Rice, white rice, or lo mein noodles. On the sign boards over the grill there were also two other dishes offered. One was an oriental chicken dish with a spicy sauce and vegetables. The other was a bit odd - it was a mixture of shrimp and smoked beef sausage (the sausage was being featured on one of the other grills) in an oriental sauce with vegetables. I say odd because one does not generally see smoked beef sausage in an Oriental entree.

The teriaki looked very good. A great smell was coming from the grill as the chicken sizzled. I must say that I did not try the Oriental food - there was so much else offered on the buffet that I wanted to have that I just could not eat this much.

During this meal I had some very good "other" items that I have not had a Shady Maple before though they may have been served before. I mentioned the smoked beef sausage above and I did have that plain off the grill. It was nicely flavored - not overpowering and the sausage had a snap to it. There was also turkey sausage being cooked on the grill and I very much enjoyed that. I eat a lot of turkey sausage at home. It is lower in fat than pork sausage, a little milder in flavor, and seasons just like pork. I have had Italian turkey sausage but here at Shady Maple the sausage that I had was seasoned like German sausage. Very good! It was, for me, different and I very much enjoyed it.

Also that night I had barbecue ribs which were very meaty. They were served in sections of about four ribs each serving and were covered in a red, mild barbecue sauce. The ribs, while I am sure, were not smoked. They were fall off the bone ribs. The meat just pulled away leaving a clean bone. These were very good and I went back for more.

There was also something different on the buffet this night - open pit chicken bbq. In Lancaster County a lot of groups as a fund raiser have Chicken BBQ's for people to come to and buy and take barbecued chickens. Now, when I say barbecue in this context I am talking about chicken cooked on a charcoal grill and not smoked or covered in sauce. This is plain, char-broiled chicken over coals. And this is exactly what Shady Maple was serving - charcoal grilled chicken. There were drumsticks and thighs. The chicken had a hickory charcoal grill flavor and made me think of bbq chicken made in the backyard. This too was very good and I also went back for more.

There were a couple of other things that I had that I have not had at Shady Maple before. Starting with the soup, there was butternut squash soup in with a variety of other soups (including the Maryland Crab Soup that I have written about in a past article and is one of my favorites). The butternut squash soup was thick and creamy. It had a slightly sweet taste but not really sugary sweet and was very velvet-like in texture. I took a small portion to try (along with a larger portion of the crab soup) and I was very glad that I did. It was very good.

The last "new" thing {new to me at least) was a grill station devoted to wings. There were hot wings, mild wings, and barbecue wings. I tried the barbecue wings. I asked for just a couple and was given half a plate full. They were meaty and had a great taste. I am not a frequent "wing-eater" but these were good. For those who like the traditional hot wings I am certain that those were just as good.

I do have to report two not so good things that I have never observed at Shady Maple before - and if management is reading this please take note because, frankly, I was shocked. As we were eating our soiled plates started to stack up on the table and no one was coming to take them away. This has NEVER happened at Shady Maple to me for the very long time that I have been going there regularly. There seemed to be only one woman clearing plates and cleaning tables - short-staffed for the Fall or just this night? - but she was clearing the tables on teh center aisle and never came near the middle or end of the rows. We went through soup, salad, and two entree plates before a woman came over who is one of the supervisors who usually is at one of the cash registers. We said nothing but she saw what was happening at all of the tables on that end and she started clearing the dishes away. We thanked her when she got to us. She stayed around for a while longer and continued to clear dishes from tables. Eventually, and this was almost when we were ready for desert did the young woman who had been working only in the middle come over and start clearing the tables in the area that we were in. She just came and acted as if she had been doing the correct thing all along. When our plates started stacking up I was about to take a photo to make sure that someone in charge saw what had happened. Knowing Shady Maple's management they would take notice.

One other not good surprise was the young man who was manning the special feature hard ice cream station and chocolate dipping station. He was properly wearing gloves to keep his hands out of what he was serving (per health code) BUT every so often he would raise his gloved hand up to his nose and - WIPE HIS NOSE on the glove! Oh boy! Again, never before seen by me at Shady Maple by anyone serving.

Overlooking these two negative surprises, the rest of the surprises that I have just told you about were great and I very much enjoyed - as always - my meal at Shady Maple. Now those two negatives - let's just hope that they were one night occurrences and we will never see such there again.

Still the best - Shady Maple Smorgasbord is located at 129 Toddy Drive in East Earl, PA. Take Route 23 East or Route 322 South to get to the restaurant. The phone numbers are 1-800-238-7363 and 717-354-8222. There is a website and it is listed at the side of this page.

Friday, October 01, 2010



Ready for entrees I decided to walk around the entire buffet counter to see what was being offered and since there was so much out, to choose wisely. The buffet is divided into sections - dessert, seafood, International, Italian, Chinese, and Barbecue. The Barbecue section is easy to miss though there is a large sign over the entrance way to one of the patio dining areas and the barbecue counter is inside that area - still along the same and continuing wall. There was a lot to tempt me and the largest crowd was at the crab legs which are the Friday night feature. What was calling me was the Barbecue and that is where I went first. Here there were pulled pork, BBQ riblets, chicken, steaks, beans, taco meat and the fixings for tacos. I took some of the pulled pork and the riblets. On the way back to the table I went over to the seafood counter and took some peel and eat shrimp too. Odd combination but it just seemed right - spicy and smokey barbecue and cold shrimp. The pulled pork was nice. The riblets were small pieces of bone and meat in a thick and sweet red barbecue sauce. The rib tray could have used some attention and needed to be stirred. It was not dried out but was moving in that direction. I stirred it myself when I took my riblets. The ribs were tasty and good. The sauce could have been less sweet but perhaps that is just my palate. I enjoyed the first serving of them that I took. I later went back for more and struggled a bit to finish them as the sweetness of the sauce had gotten to me after a while. I am sure that many of you will love these - and when I go back, if they are there, I will have more.

I went back up to see what else I would take. There was a lot. On the Seafood area there were the peel and eat shrimp, a cod cooked with vegetables in an Asian sauce (the fish were whole sections of cod), fried shrimp, fried cod, and french fries. On the International section there was Chicken Tarragon with Asparagus and Shrimp, stuffing, potatoes, sliced beef in brown gravy, a carving station in the middle where they were carving ham and Prime Rib, mixed vegetables, and a section filled with crab leg clusters - whole, hot clusters. Along the line, next came the Italian area with vegetable lasagna, beef lasagna, tortellini in a creamy cheese sauce, sausage and peppers, meatballs in tomato sauce, and ziti with a tomato sauce to put on or a spicy marinara sauce to put on top. There were also cold marinated olives and marinated mushrooms. The Chinese area had General Tso Chicken, shrimp chow mien, fried rice, lo mien noodles, cold noodles with sesame sauce, fried dumplings , egg rolls, and a few other dishes. I have already described what I found at the Barbecue area.

The choices all looked good. I decided that this plate would be a sampling plate and I took a little of several items. I took some of the tortellini, a chunk of sausage, a meat ball, a piece of the Asian cod, a fried dumpling, and some marinated olives. The only thing that I would pass on was the fried dumpling as it was dry and the dough was chewy. The rest was very good. The sausage had a fresh made taste. The tortellini drew me back for a few more (though I should not be eating pasta in quantity).

My next plate was a mistake but only for the amount of food that it contained and it limited what more I would be able to fit in me afterward. I went to look at the steak. I always like steak. The steak here is grilled and put out in quantity in a serving tray. They are called club steaks - small, rounds of steak. In the tray they looked a bit dry and it was likely that they were well done. When steak is cooked and then allowed to sit it continues to cook so unless the steaks are constantly being replenished, if they are sitting they are likely to be well done. I decided to pass on the steak and go over to the middle of the counters to the carving station to see the Prime Rib. The Prime Rib that was being carved was not with bones but the meat was nicely red and medium rare. I went up for a slice and was given a thick, full cut of Prime Rib. This piece was as large as served as a full portion in a menu restaurant. It filled the plate. I added some au jus gravy to the meat. I also picked up some French Fries back at the seafood area, and added some of the shrimp chow mein just for a vegetable side. The Prime Rib was tender and very tasty. I very much enjoyed it and was glad that I chose that over the unknown steaks. But it was a lot of meat - if one was planning on eating more. It is probably best to direct the carver to cut a thin slice. For those who prefer a more well done beef, there was sliced beef in brown gravy on the buffet as well and this was much more well done.

Of course, after my Prime Rib I still had intentions of eating more (silly me) and it is usually at this point of my buffet meal in a buffet that I have not visited before to go back for some of the items that I really enjoyed. So back I went for bbq riblets, two more meatballs, and more tortellini. When I sat down with my plate I realized that I really had wanted to try the fried cod, but figured I would do so on the next plate. There was no next plate for me because with this all, I was full. No more room. (When at a buffet, heed that feeling and don't go one plate beyond, because afterward you will regret it.) I reached my limit and stopped wisely. Not even room for dessert.

I did, however, go to look at the dessert selections and there were many, many good ones. There were many types of pies and cakes - nice layer cakes. There was cheesecake. There were pastries. And there were hot waffles waiting for soft serve ice cream to be added on top with a variety of sundae sauces and toppings to join it. There was fruit, puddings, a few nice looking, hot bread puddings, and also a large selection of sugar free desserts (if you are so inclined). Had I taken dessert I would have regretted it, and I very reluctantly passed.

The food was very, very good. The quality of the food was very good. The cooking and maintenance of the food (with the few exceptions noted) was very good.

Was there anything that I did not like? One minor thing and that was the way the different buffet counter areas were roped off to create a line. When there was no one at an area, it was not problem to just walk up to the tray that you wanted and take some. BUT when there were others at that area, they were lining up - directed to by the ropes along the side - and it meant that you were walking behind others, cafeteria style along the entire line before you got to the tray that you wanted. If you had intention of going to all of the trays along the line 0r even some of them, this is not a problem, but if that one item that you want is at the end of the line, you were waiting until you got up to it behind what at some counters were long lines. I said, earlier, that I took some French Fries. They were in the last serving tray on the seafood line. There was a long line of people at that area. I slipped over to the end (where by the way no one was standing) and took some fries from the tray - without waiting on the line. A woman jokingly told me that I was "cutting" and then laughed. I made a joke back saying that all I wanted was a few fries and that I thought I would just slip in a grab a few. She laughed and made a point to say that she had been only joking. Good matured lady. Someone else might have made an unnecessary fuss. I had also said earlier that they had nice looking crab legs and you will note that I did not talk about eating any. Well, the line at the crab legs was consistent throughout the night, and I felt (with the many other good things to get) that it was just not worth the wait.

Service was also good and plates were taken off the table promptly and drink refills were offered without our asking.

Would I go back? Oh yes! In fact that is all I have been thinking about since leaving. This was a great meal and one that I look forward to repeating. The crazy thing is that if you drew a line from this buffet to my home it is about thirty miles away. The problem is that there is the Long Island Sound - part of the Atlantic Ocean - in the middle of that line. So to get to this great buffet I have to take the long way around, through NYC and into Connecticut and back in the direction of my home, but further north which is about a 300 mile round trip. A long time ago someone said let's build a bridge, but many people said "Not in my backyard!" ("NIMBY" is a popular expression in my area) and so there is no bridge.

Foxwoods is located pretty much in the woods. It is accessed by Route 2 in Connecticut which is a mix of highway and country road. Once you get to the complex of buildings it does get a bit confusing as there are three entrances and little explanation on the signs on the road. It is actually very simple if you know that all buildings are interconnected so if you go into any of the entrance drives and park - in one of the three self-park free parking lots or have your car valet parked - you will enter a building that will connect to all of the other buildings and areas. The buffet is in the "Rainmaker" area. A walk through the complex is very nice and the halls are made to look like a New England street with shops along the way, as well as casinos. So just pull into any of the entrances and park. Make note of which parking lot and level you are in. And the MGM Grand is part of the same complex and connected as well through a series of hallways and escalators.

The Festival Buffet is at Foxwoods Resort Casino. The address is 350 Trolley Line Boulevard,
Mashantucket, CT 06338-3777. The phone number is 1-800-369-9663. There is a website with directions, etc. and that is listed at the side of this page. A note about the address. My GPS did not recognize the town or the street. The casino did come up in a search of the list of points of interest and that is how we routed to it.

The Festival Buffet at Foxwoods is a must try!

Friday, September 24, 2010


I have been hoping to eat at a buffet that I can really rave about, and finally I did! The Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, CT is a large complex of four casinos, two hotels, and what amounts to an amusement park for adults. This is a casino that is owned and operated by a Native American tribe. There is a Native American museum as part of the complex. The entire complex has many, many restaurants but just one buffet - the Festival Buffet.

I had been to the Festival Buffet many years ago - before I had started writing this site - and I was not very impressed. In all this time I had not gone back when in this area and that is too bad because over time there has been a great improvement and I was missing a wonderful buffet experience.

We went on a Friday night and Friday's feature is seafood (what else?). The cost on Friday and Saturday nights is three dollars more than Sunday through Thursday nights when the price is $16.95 per person which includes your soft drinks. On Friday and Saturday the price for dinner is $19.95. Lunch prices all of the time are $16.95. If you have a casino "comp" card - easily obtained for several booths around the complex for free (though you may encounter long lines to get one) the price is $1.00 less at all meal times.

There was a long line to get into the buffet. We waited over forty-five minutes on the line. The system to get people in and out when it is busy is not the best. First you wait on line to pay and once you pay, you are held to the side of the front of that same line to be let in to go and wait on another line from which you will be seated. Once on that second line there is a host/hostess with a walkie-talkie announcing what the size of the parties are that need to be seated and answers come in from around the dining room to send the party of 2, 3 or whatever over to a particular area to be met by someone who seats you.

The buffet is located along a very long wall that extends from where the cashiers end into the dining room and even around into another dining room. In the center of the dining room is a large salad/cold buffet server. The decor is very nice with walnut color partitions along the tables and sections of tables. Around the dining room is a "patio" dining room that is actually on the floor of the concourse leading to the casinos and entertainment. The outside was very noisy and smokey from cigarettes. Sitting in that patio area - and it is extensive exposes you to all of the noise and the smoke. Part of the noise is a night club that is located just opposite the buffet and if you like loud music you can enjoy the buffet and be entertained at the same time. I was happy to get a table in the main dining room, away from the noise and the cigarettes (the smoke would have spoiled this great meal for me).

We were seated by a very pleasant woman who directed to go up and start to get out meal while she finished setting the table. We went up first for soup - as we always do. The soup is located on the end of the salad server and there were two soups. One was New England Clam Chowder and the other Tuscan Soup. Both were white cream soups. I took a cup of the New England Clam Chowder first. It was thick and rich, full of potatoes and clams. It was very good. When I finished that I went back for the Tuscan soup to see just what Tuscan soup is. It was a thin white cream soup with pieces of sausage, a green leaf vegetable of some variety cut up into the soup, and sliced potatoes. The soup was mildly spicy and very good. Two winning soups, though I would have paired a cream soup with a broth soup for more variety. Since my wife does not eat cream soups she was off right away to the salad bar.

I headed to the salad bar next. When I looked up the buffet before my visit I read about the special "grilled" Caesar Salad. I went right over to see what that was. There were two bowls of Caesar salad - one that was labeled Caesar Salad and the other labeled Chicken Caesar Salad. I had read about grilled shrimp Caesar salad but that was not there. So the "grilled" part was whatever they added in - of course. I took the regular and skipped the chicken figuring there would be enough meats later on in the meal. The Caesar salad was excellent. There was additional cheese to add in, if you like. It was thick and creamy. There were a large variety of prepared salads, many that were unusual or perhaps I should say "gourmet". Along the other side there were the standards - potato salad, cole slaw, pasta salads, etc. And there was a large assortment of greens and toppings to make just about any salad that you like. Everything was very fresh.


This article got so long that I have split it in two - if I am tired of writing, then you must be tired of reading. So come back next week for the rest! See ya then!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sadie's Buffet - Perkasie, Telford and Vernfield, PA

Last week I told you about the buffet that I did go to on a recent trip to Pennsylvania. This week I am going to tell you about a buffet that I "almost" went to. Well, I actually went there but I did not eat there. I need to say right up front that there was nothing wrong with it - it just was not the night to try this buffet.

Anyway, I heard about Sadie's Buffet two years ago. I have been actually waiting for an opportunity to be close enough to one of the three to try it. While we were at a nice little history festival called Goshenhoppen in central, eastern Pennsylvania, I decided that at the end of the day we would go to Sadie's Buffet which I saw on a map looked near by. When I put the location into my GPS as we were leaving the festival, the screen told me that it was about 50 minutes away and then a red warning screen flashed telling me that the route included "Unpaved Roads"- and did I want to take those. OK. Unpaved roads, really? I was in the mountains in a rural area but come on - unpaved roads? How was this thing routing me? I will stop here for a moment and tell you about my GPS - which will go un-named. Recently, particularly in the state of Pennsylvania it has been routing me north to go south and also routing me through parking lots - really - parking lots. All in a round about way to take me where one road would have lead to another road and then a simple left turn was all that would have been necessary to get me to the same spot that the parking lot led me to. Never the less, I told the silly thing that I did not want to drive on "unpaved roads", it seemed satisfied and we were on our way - with by the way one parking lot included in the route.

Back to Sadies. There are three Sadie's Buffets and each one is located in a Landis Supermarket. There is one in the towns of Perkasie, Telford and Vernfield, PA. I have written about buffets located in supermarkets before - the best of which is Yoders which I have written about many times and recently at that, and several others. Each was an actual restaurant located in the supermarket - seemingly unique (at least to me) to Pennsylvania. So we were headed by way of my GPS to Perkasie to the Landis Supermarket to have dinner on a Saturday night in mid-August. We arrived - with about an hour and a half ti spare before closing at 8. We went into the supermarket and I started looking for the restaurant. There was a sign in the supermarket window talking about the Sunday Brunch buffet - so this was the right place. But unlike all of the other supermarket buffets, separated off from the supermarket in an actual restaurant with servers, etc., Sadie's is part of a small food court in the middle of the produce department of the restaurant. Off to the side there was a sectioned off area with small booths and between the two there was a woman at a cashier. There were was a buffet server with cold on one side and hot on the other. Along one wall - an extension of the produce wall was a sandwich bar. There was also a small area of desserts - pies, cakes, and such. This was one of the most unusual buffets that I have ever seen. Let me clarify that - I have seen such set ups before in supermarkets always designed so that you package hot and cold foods, weigh them, pay for them by weight, and take them home to eat. I have not seen ones that are set up to eat there and with an all you care to eat option. The all you care to eat price is $9.95 per adult. Drinks were extra. You could also have made up a single plate of an item or taken things in a container to take home.

I live in an area in NY where some of these supermarket serve yourself food counters to make up containers to take home have become suspect. Because they are relatively unsupervised, they have been known to have had not very nice people slip things into the food, etc. NOW - this is just where I am and because of this I have avoided eating from these types of set ups. I am sure that not all are a problem and I am NOT saying that there was anything wrong with the buffet servers at Sadie's. But the idea gave me some pause. But I decided that we had come all that way, let's look and see what there was - it was right out there in the open so it is easy to see exactly what you would be eating. We walked around and I took stock of what was in store.

The selections were very limited. The most interesting thing and something not on any buffet that I have ever seen is a sandwich bar. There was an assortment of breads and a variety of sliced cold cuts and also bacon, along with a variety of sandwich toppings. Yes, very interesting. Along the hot foods there were individual small meat loaves, what had been a tray of fish but just one piece remained, some type of chicken that I could not tell if it was baked or fried, and a couple of other hot foods. There were also potatoes and a couple of vegetables. Some items seemed to need "tending" and were starting to look dry. Several items all around the servers needed replacing. There was no one visible that was maintaining the food bars or replacing anything. There was a small salad area with a few tossed salad fixings and prepared salads. The food did not look bad but was this going to make me happy for my dinner that Saturday night? (Since you got last week's story first - obviously, not.)

It is not just me who is eating at these buffets but my wife is with me at each meal. And as you know, if you read this site regularly, is a bit of a picky eater and likes things basic and plain. Well, basic and plain was not going to be a problem BUT the assortment of what was there for her was going to be - and me too. It was not for her that we left - it was my decision.

I had been looking forward to Sadie's Buffet. I was hoping for another Yoders. It was far from that or any supermarket buffet that I have been to - and written about. Had the selection been greater and had everything been out that was being offered in fuller trays and being watched over and refilled we probably would have stayed and tried it. I very hesitantly and reluctantly decided to leave. And off we went hoping that the additional almost hour's drive would get us in time to the Golden Corral that I told you about last week.

Should you go to Sadie's Buffet? Maybe. If you are in for a different buffet experience or like sandwiches for dinner (this might be a good lunch stop - and there is Sunday brunch with the usual brunch/ breakfast items), this could be very good. I am sure there are many who have enjoyed any or all of the three in this part of Pennsylvania. There were a few people eating there that night - but just a few. If I am back in this area, I may come back to Sadie's Buffet for lunch - it is a ten dollar lunch but I really would like to try it.

I have included a link at the side of this page with Sadie's buffet and you can get directions to all three locations from the website (which is also the Landis Supermarket website). It is hard to see in the photos what these buffets are like - I really did not know what to expect before going except for my miss-led assumptions. Each buffet is open from 11 am to 2 pm for lunch, closed for two hours and then opens again from 4 pm to 8 pm. every day. If you are up for something a little different in manner of eating at a buffet, please give it a try. If you have been to anyone of the Sadie's Buffets please leave a comment and tell us about it. You may just be able to entice me back sooner than later - and for dinner too.