Friday, May 13, 2011

Birthday Buffet

It was my birthday and I had to decide where I would have my "free" birthday buffet. There were several choices. I try when I am able to spend my birthday in Lancaster County, PA and of course, with that being the buffet capital there were some great buffets to choose from and a tough choice. I could have gone to The Family Cupboard, Yoders, or Shady Maple, to name a few. Each offers a free buffet meal on your birthday. Nothing against Family Cupboard but my choice narrowed down to Yoders or Shady Maple - and somehow, I just cannot resist Shady Maple even though I had been there less than a month before.

Getting your free birthday dinner at Shady Maple is easy. All you need to do is go up to the cash register and prove it is your birthday. It must be that exact day - unless your birthday falls on a Sunday, in which case you get your free buffet on the Monday right after. You don't have to belong to any clubs or get any coupons (the same holds true for Yoders and Family Cupboard). Shady Maple has a registration service that will remind you that your birthday buffet is waiting for you on your birthday - they send you an email. I don't need to be reminded that it is my birthday. But it is a nice gesture on their part.

So we went to Shady Maple for my birthday dinner. All in all I traveled eight hours round trip and about 450 miles round trip to do so, but I enjoyed the day in this beautiful part of the country and would have come even if there was not a free meal waiting.

You get more than a meal on your birthday at Shady Maple. They hand you a stack of coupons too. The coupons are good in local stores including their gift shop and a small department store next door named Good's Store. Good's Store is a very nice place to shop and you can often find things there that you don't see in the larger stores. So in addition to your great free meal, you get a little birthday present in discounts.

The meal was as good as always. They had Maryland Crab Soup which I have written about before and I think is one of the best soups that Shady Maple serves. This is a thick tomato based soup full of shredded real crab meat and vegetables. The soup has a great flavor and just a little spice from the Maryland crab seasoning in the soup. When I go to Shady Maple I always look for this soup and there it was on my birthday!

My birthday fell this year on a Monday and it just so happens that Monday's are my favorite meal day at Shady Maple because steak is the feature of the night. On three grills they were preparing Delmonico steaks, New York Strip steaks, and chopped steaks. They make the steak to your order - you want rare, medium, or well done just ask for it. If it is not ready that way they will make one for you. To top your steak there are trays out of sauteed onions and also sauteed mushrooms. OF course, on the buffet there are a myriad of things to go along with your steak and I found onion rings to add on top.

There was not just steak - of course - on the buffet and on the grill there was so much more. On the grill they were also grilling smoked pork chops. On the buffet I found the most flavorful turkey sausages. I eat turkey almost every night (heart healthy, you know) in many forms at home. We often have turkey sausages, but what we get where we live are Italian seasoned turkey sausages. Here at Shady Maple the turkey sausages were German style. They were very good. There was also Salisbury steak which was a very thick beef patty, seasoned inside, with a thick white mushroom gravy on top.

I have written so many times about the great food at this wonderful buffet that I am not going to repeat most of it here. What is important to know is that if it is your birthday, it is all for you FREE!

While I am writing about birthday buffets, I should note a change at Old Country Buffet which now includes Ryan's for your birthday buffet. OCB no longer offers a free buffet on your birthday - something that many, many are complaining about on OCB's Facebook page. No, they now only give you three dollars off a meal - one meal - with which you must purchase another adult meal and beverages. It is nice to get three dollars off - but really - this is a lot less than some of their feature coupons throughout the year. For this three dollar discount, you must be registered in their email club. Not a bad idea to be the email club if you like eating at OCB, but between you and me - you get MORE coupons more often if you "like" their Facebook page. Anyway - if you show up at OCB or Ryan's on your birthday you better have a coupon and don't expect a free meal.

If you want to go to Shady Maple for your birthday here is where they are. 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.

Happy Birthday!

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