Friday, July 16, 2010

IVY BUFFET, WEST NYACK, NEW YORK

I love finding small, non-chain buffets that are not Asian. There are many oriental independent buffets and in areas like Pennsylvania it is also not unusual to find one, but in New York it is very rare. I came across the Ivy Buffet on a trip many months ago. We had planned to dine there on our next trip to that area - and I must say going to this area is very rare for us - but in the past year we have gone three times. Well, on that second trip things just kept going wrong and we never made it to the Ivy Buffet. Just recently we found that we needed to go past this area again, and we knew that on our way back home we would definitely dine at Ivy Buffet.

The Ivy Buffet is located in West Nyack, New York. It is across from Palisades Mall, one of the largest malls in the United States. The mall is a location to see all on its own with a Ferris wheel inside and even a Chinese buffet in the mall itself. The Ivy Buffet is not in the mall or accessed from the malls many parking lots. It is across Route 303 from the mall and you must be on the north bound side of the route to get in which resulted in our passing it and pulling into a business parking lot to turn around as the road is no U turn sign after no U turn sign.

The restaurant is in a building that had been formerly one of the many chain restaurants before - not a buffet chain, but the outside of the building was very familiar looking though I am not certain which of the chains it had been before. There is a large enough parking lot and the building has been well maintained. There is a large sign outside - Ivy Buffet - so that you cannot miss it.

Inside you find a very nice decor. I am sure that whatever this had been before - this buffet has only been here less than a year - came from the former restaurant. There are three dining rooms and a private room for parties also. The first dining room is directly in front of the entrance doors and away from the buffet servers. The other two dining rooms are next to each other - separated by only a short, see over wall and right next to the buffet servers.

Dinner at the Ivy Buffet is $9.99 Monday through Sunday for dinner. Lunch is $5.99 from Monday to Saturday. Unlimited soft drinks are $1.49, served to you by your server and they have Pepsi products. There are children's prices that are split by two age ranges. The price of the meal is well worth it and the food as you will see as you read on is good.

The food at the Ivy Buffet is called "Continental" and I guess that is a good description. It is not Southern or country like many buffets - no fried chicken (at least not on the night that we went there). This is what could be called European (not like Europa Buffet had though) or basic American fare. There are three large double sided buffet servers and one smaller server against the back wall with desserts.

We were told when we came in to pick any table that we liked. It was about 7:30 on a Friday night. The restaurant was almost empty. There were about six tables full. As we were there other groups came in, but the restaurant was never really crowded with many empty tables. As we were dining I kept thinking about a similar situation at Buffet Europa in New Jersey. Though, I have seen reports that Ivy Buffet can get crowded at times - which is a good thing for business.

We gave the server our drink order and we went up to the buffet. We always start with soup and there was one server with chicken rice soup. There was an empty spot next to that for another soup. Almost as soon as we were back at the table with our soup the second soup was brought back out full of seafood chowder. I, of course, finished my chicken rice soup - it was very nice - and went up for a cup of seafood ch0wder. The chowder was a thin, red chowder very similarly seasoned to clam chowder but it was full of chunks of a white fish and shrimp. This soup was good too.

We next headed up to the salad bar. One entire server was a cold server with salads, greens, salad fixings, prepared salads, and also peel and eat shrimp on ice. The shrimp were large. This server also had several fresh fruits to choose from along with chocolate pudding and vanilla pudding. There were also Greek stuffed grape leaves with the salads. When we came in I was certain that I heard a Greek accent from the gentlemen who greeted us and in NY it is common for local restaurants to be owned by Greeks. The fruit included whole fresh peaches, grapes, and watermelon. It is not everyday that you find whole fresh peaches on a buffet. I chose the Caesar salad. It was pre-mixed and nicely full of dressing with seasoned croutons. This salad was very good. One of the best that I have had at buffets.

We moved on to the hot foods next. There was an interesting assortment. There was chicken Marsala, chicken parmigiana, meatloaf, hot wings, spare ribs, fried whole whiting (fish), broiled basa (fish), whole shrimp with the shell and head, meatballs in tomato sauce, Italian sausage and peppers, linguine, chicken in Spanish rice, chili, baked ziti with meat, fried chicken cutlets, pizza, and mixed vegetables and potatoes including whole red potatoes, french fries and mashed potatoes. While this is not an overwhelming number of entrees there certainly were enough to choose from. The food was good. The chicken Marsala - chicken lightly coated and sauteed in wine sauce with mushrooms had a good taste of the wine in the sauce. The chicken parmigiana was cut into half size pieces, each covered in mozzarella cheese with tomato sauce. This was good as well - and with the addition of a little extra tomato sauce on top of the cheese taken from the server of tomato sauce next to the linguine, this made it even better - though it was good on its own. The spare ribs were thick and meaty. They did not have a traditional barbecue sauce on them though they had a light sauce that had been brushed on before they were baked that cooked into the top of the ribs. There was a lot of meat on each rib. I would have preferred them in barbecue sauce but many prefer them plain. These were baked ribs and in the bottom of the server there was some oil that had come from the meat - at first I was concerned that the ribs would be greasy but they were not. They were very tender and tasty but not fall off the bone ribs. Basa is a catfish that comes from Vietnam and is very popular in Europe and was recently introduced to the market here in the US. I did not know this at the time and I do like catfish. The Basa had a mild taste, was less fatty than catfish, and was mildly seasoned when broiled. The surface of the fish was a little tough but the meat of the fish was tender. The sausage and peppers were nice, as were the meatballs. The meat loaf was not covered in ketchup as it is in some restaurants. It was good. The chicken cutlets were brought out later while we were dining and added to the tray that contained french fries. When the pizza was gone - and it did not come back out, the chicken came out in its place. I think that is a fair substitution. I want to make a comment also about the linguine. In many buffets the pasta is kept in water or oil to keep it "fresh". Here the linguine was kept nicely fresh without being soaked in water or oil. It was not dry at all. It was hot and fresh. I am not sure how they do it but it was done well.

There was a small dessert assortment that included chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, yellow cake with chocolate frosting, chocolate brownies, butter cookies, European style chocolate chip cookies, apple strudel cake, soft serve ice cream and cones with toppings, and all of the fresh fruits and puddings that I mentioned above that were on the salad bar. A woman at a nearby table commented on how good the ice cream was. It did look good - creamy and not icy.

I must point out that food was continually brought out and added to the buffet to replace anything that was even beginning to run out through out the time that we were there and there were not that many tables full of diners. A good effort was made to make sure that nothing was empty and that everything was hot and fresh.

The meal was way beyond what one would expect to get in a buffet for $9.99. The food was better than some chain buffets and I must say was far superior to the buffet meal that I had a few weeks ago that I wrote about at the Mohegan Sun Casino high price buffet.

My only regret is that I am far from this buffet and it is in a location that I am not likely to return to very often. The trip back home took 90 minutes with several large tolls included. But I was there anyway and this was one of the high points of the day!

The food is good and the value is excellent. The location for anyone in this area is easy to get to. It is actually less than 30 minutes from New York City and it is also not far from the New Jersey state border (actually very near).

I recommend the Ivy Buffet. For those of you who had been to Buffet Europa before it was sold, do not expect to find a buffet on that same level, but judged on its own merits, Ivy Buffet is a find.

The Ivy Buffet is located at 78 North Route 303 in West Nyack, New York 10994. The phone number is 845-348-1110. There is an email address but no website. The email address is IvyBuffet@aol.com.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Quick background on this restaurant...
It was 'featured' on "Kitchen Nightmares" with Gordon Ramsey as "Fiesta Sunrise" Season 2 ep. 9. I'm not too sure how keen we locals are to going there after the show was aired (it was pretty bad). If your review was honest they might be able to shed that stigma. I was sent the link for your blog by a foodie friend who was interested in trying it so I might find myself taking the $10 dollar challenge soon.

BTW - It was never a chain restaurant but was called "Grill 303", "Fiesta Sunrise" and other not too memorable names over the years. I think the only reason for the building to exist was for the motel it shares a parking lot with. I'm sure that before The Mall was built in the 90's it was the place to eat when staying there. It is a tough area for a restaurant when you are just across a highway from a landfill.

Robert A said...

I take the restaurant on face value. I never saw this show that you mention. I don't know if that show was about this same incarnation of restaurant, manager, or owner - even while the restaurant in the show was at this location. I also did not go into the kitchen - of course - and have no idea about what the conditions are there. As for the dining room and the buffet area, it was clean and pleasant.

We also felt fine after our meal - no illness from bad food or cooking. So there is no reason for me to feel that there was anything wrong hidden "behind the scenes". It was a nice meal and I wish I was closer to come back again.

I found this restaurant passing it on the road on a previous trip to the area and following that did a search to learn what I could about it. What I found were positive reviews by people who had tried Ivy Buffet. My visit confirmed what I had hoped to find.

This is nice buffet dining - if you go expecting five star Zaggets you are not going to be happy.

Robert A said...

Season 2 Episode 9 of Kitchen Nightmares is an Italian restaurant in Boca Raton, Fl.

Robert A said...

The show referenced in the comments on this page is actually Season 1 Episode 20. That show is about a Mexican restaurant at this same location in 2008 called Fiesta Sunrise. It is NOT about Ivy Buffet.

It is terribly unfair of anyone to judge a new restaurant by a restaurant that occupied the same building years back with different owners. This would be saying that there should never be another restaurant ever again in this building because of the poor reputation of a former restaurant there.

I don't know who owns Ivy Buffet. No one there looked Hispanic (as the owners of Fiesta Sunrise were) and if I was to guess by the gentleman who appeared to be the manager/owner?, he was Greek.

I welcome others who have dined as I did at Ivy Buffet to come and share their opinion of the food and the restaurant.

Anonymous said...

NO NEED TO MENTION THE IVY BUFFET ANYMORE! It is out of business and there is a for lease sign n there.. I knew the place was headed to the shit-house because when I went there, the steam table was off and the food was luke-warm to cold and the air conditioning was off... I had a feeling it was headed out of business! It is gone now!

Robert A said...

I am sorry to hear that the Ivy Buffet has gone out of business. It was very nice - a better meal than I had at some buffets that want you to think they are "high-class". Despite the comment above that they apparently let themselves go at the end, when I was there it was worth going back to. Another buffet falls to the economy? Or did people think this was the same restaurant that was depicted in that damaging TV show from years before? Either way it is a shame!