Friday, July 30, 2010

It is Going to Take a Lot

When I am in southeastern/central Pennsylvania I make a point to get to Shady Maple Smorgasbord for dinner. I have written about this restaurant many times and it has been selected as Best Buffet - anywhere - for several years running by this site. I was recently there again and started wondering what would it take to top this? What would it take for another buffet to be the best?

I have been to many elaborate buffets - some in hotels, some in casinos. I have been to many family buffets. None come close to the size, consistency, quantity, and value as Shady Maple. It is almost embarrassing to find no competition. I have looked. I have tried and tasted. Entering a new buffet there is always hope - will this be the one? So far none have.

It does not matter what season or what night of the six days of the week that it is open, it is always full of people. This is a favorite of both locals and tourists and they line up to get in. We were recently there in the middle of the week - what usually is an off night for restaurants - even in an tourist area. There were lines - though short lines - at Shady Maple and while there really was no wait most of the large dining rooms - and they have several were full of happy diners.

This recent visit the feature of the night was Prime Rib. Full prime ribs being carved to order at several carving stations. If you wanted rare, there was a rare one to be had. If you wanted well done, there was a well one there too, as were medium done too. Who else does this? Most are "here is what we have" - it is rare or it is well done, not both,and usually it is well done.

The same is true when steaks are served. Order it as you like it and it will be cooked for you and shown to you to make sure it is how you want it. A few buffets will do this, but not many.

The number of different items being served at one time on the buffet is unchallenged. As I have pointed out before that many do not walk down to both ends of the buffet servers. In the middle it appears that the each side repeats what is on the other, but that is not true. Even the second salad bar and soup area will have a number of different offerings than on the first. There are different side dishes on each end and different entrees mixed in with some that repeat. Even the two dessert areas have different things assorted in.

I want to see the buffet that tops this one. It will have to be spectacular beyond imagination. It really is going to take a lot to top Shady Maple. If it is out there, I want to know about it.

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.

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