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!

7 comments:

Claire said...

Try East Wind Caterers and Inn near Riverhead in Wading River. They open up for Thanksgiving Buffet and it's GREAT! Not cheap, but well worth it, and maybe only an hour drive from Nassau County. For what you get, and the quality, it's a great value. We've done it, it's great. High quality.

Harold and Marion Abbatiello said...

We've been to E. Wind's Sunday Italian Dinner Buffet which is one of the best A.Y.C.E. deals in the area. My neighbors have been to the Thanksgiving Buffet and recommend it highly. If you look at their regular menu prices, which are very high, the buffets are a great deal considering it is A.Y.C.E. The Thanksgiving menu is on their website and we are considering it this year.

Anonymous said...

when you consider the cost and bother of making a Thanksgiving Dinner for 2, these buffets can be a good deal. Have you seen the price for a bag of shelled pecans to make a pie with? It's cheaper to go to a buffet and get the pie there. I've been to East Wind for a wedding and it was good. I didn't realize that you can also dine there, or for Thanksgiving.

Robert A said...

I am finding out that restaurants that are not usually buffets who are offering a buffet for Thanksgiving are doing so with a time limit to the meal. We have found several stating "one and one half hour seating". This is putting me off a bit. I hate eating with a clock ticking. For a holiday meal I want to take my time and enjoy the occasion and not eat with a stop watch. So at this point we don't know what we will do...

Claire M. said...

East Wind gives you 5 hours, from 12 to 5pm. That seems pretty liberal. My husband and sons can do a lot of eating in that time frame! We went to Major's Steakhouse once for a brunch, and it was 1 1/2 hr. seatings!!! We got there 1/2 an hr. into the second seating, so we only had an hour! You should try E. Wind. Even if you got there at 1 or 2, you'd have plenty of time. They do not rush people and seem very caring, even on a holiday :). They also replenish right until the end.

Robert A said...

Five hours is fine - three hours is more than enough. One and half cuts it close especially if you don't get seated right away. Thanks for the suggestion. We will look into it!

Cheryl Petersen said...

Well, I'm from upstate NY, but found a Thanksgiving dinner to attend at the local Unitarian/Universalist society. I'm not a member but they are sharing.