Friday, December 02, 2011


This is a buffet that is new to me. It has apparently been around for quite some time but because it is a bit outside of the usual Lancaster County area, and it does not advertise, I have not come across it before in my fifty years of visiting this county.

Unique to the Pennsylvania seems to be restaurants located within, and associated with supermarkets. We have talked about several of these on this site before - among them Shady Maple Smorgasbord and Yoders Restaurant. There are others - and Dutch-Way Family Restaurant is my newest find among this type of restaurant - and buffet. And what a find it has been.

There are three Dutch-Way Farm Market Supermarkets in this general area of Pennsylvania. All three have restaurants, but only two have buffet restaurants. I have recently visited and dined at the Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in the town of Gap, Pennsylvania. As I started out by saying, Gap is not in the general tourist attraction area of Lancaster County. It is at the southeastern side of the county and very much off the main roads. I learned of this restaurant by accident while I was searching for coupons to restaurants in Lancaster and a list of restaurants came up in my search that included this restaurant - no coupon, but the name of a buffet that I had never heard of before. As it happened, we were traveling to the area and decided that this was a must see.

Getting to the restaurant is a bit tricky - once you actually see the parking lot, as we could only find an entrance if coming from the south, and we were coming in from the main route (Route 30) toward the north. We wound up passing the parking lot and making a U-turn to get in from the direction that the angled lot entrance faced. Once parked in front of the parking lot there is a entrance to the supermarket and an entrance to the restaurant - both connect on a front hallway. If you enter at the supermarket you must walk through a snack bar to get to where the main restaurant is located.

This restaurant impressed from the moment we walked through the door. The room and the entrance way is nicely decorated and nothing that you might expect about a restaurant in a supermarket. Coming in I did not know what the price of this buffet would be or what we would find. Looking into the room we saw a two large dining rooms with the buffet located in the rear. When we walked up to the reception desk, I was asked if we were there for the buffet. I said yes, and we were brought to one side of the dining room. I am not sure why as others around us were not all having the buffet - there is a menu and you can also add parts of the buffet to you menu meal. Since we were having the buffet, we were not handed menus so I had no idea of the price of the meal or beverages. What the heck - take a chance.

The buffet is comprised of three large double sided buffet servers and three walls that have food servers as well. At the end is a large grill area. There is something offered from this grill included with the buffet every night. It turned out, as we discovered when we went up to the buffet that we were there on Italian Night. Monday is Italian Night. Wednesday is Southwestern Night. Thursday is Seafood Night. Friday is Steak Night. Saturday is Prime Rib Night. We asked about Tuesday and were told that it is an assortment that varies. We also learned from the sign that announced that it was Italian Night that the price of the buffet was $10.99! I am going to tell you right now that this is an incredible buffet for just $10.99! The price is not the same each night and I was not able to find out about any of the other prices except Seafood Night which I will tell you about later.

As usual we started with soup and there were four soups out. There was vegetable beef, chicken corn noodle, chili, and pasta fagioli (macaroni with beans). I tried the chicken corn and my wife took the vegetable beef. I am a chicken corn soup fan. I prefer it made thick. This one is thin - chicken broth, noodles, chicken and corn. The soup was very good. My wife loved the vegetable beef. The soup was nicely seasoned. The vegetables were nicely cooked without being too soft. Neither soup was greasy. They make a point to let you know that they are homemade.

The soup was a hit. We finished it and moved on to the salad bar. The salad bar is extensive. There are two types of lettuce - iceberg and romaine. There was raw spinach as well. There were a nice assortment of toppings. They had chunks of local Lebanon Bologna - more a salami than a bologna - to add to your salad. There were also chunks of ham and two types of cheese. There was a nice assortment of dressings in serving bottles and next to that there was a basket filled with Ken's Dressings packets including several fat free dressings. In addition to the salad fixings bar, there was another server with prepared salads. These were a broad assortment of local salads like pepper cabbage and chow chow, along with the usual deli salads. There was also a wonderful chicken salad. The vegetables on the salad bar were extremely fresh and there was none of the typical dripping from one serving tray to another. There was also the traditional PA Dutch cottage cheese and apple butter. We both enjoyed the salad very much.

The entrees were an interesting mixture of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking with Italian dishes - as this was Italian Night. The feature at the grill on Italian Night is a Pasta Saute Station. A chef is there waiting for you to pick your pasta, your sauce, and what you would like sauteed with that. There was sausage, bacon, chicken, a wide variety of vegetables, mushrooms, and more. On the buffet the Italian dishes included eggplant parmigiana, sausage and peppers "rustica", baked stuffed manicotti with mozzarella melted on top in tomato sauce, shrimp scampi on spaghetti, spinach stuffed rigatoni with mushroom Alfredo sauce, and chicken ravioli with three cheese sauce. There were garlic bread sticks at the grill. The "regular" entrees included fried chicken, roast turkey served in gravy, roast beef served in gravy, pork and sauerkraut, dutch loaf (meat loaf in a nice gravy), and ham balls in pineapple sauce. The rest of two servers were filled with side dishes - potato filling, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, macaroni and cheese, glazed carrots, harvard beets, mixed vegetables, baked lima beans, and stewed tomatoes.

I had a tasting selection - a little of most things so that I can tell you how the food is. I liked it all. The turkey was turkey breast sliced thick and served in turkey gravy. It was good. The sausage and peppers were tasty but if you are Italian you will say that this sausage is "Italian-style" as it did not have the heavy traditional sausage seasons found in Italian sausage in Italian areas. The Dutch Loaf was a nicely lightly seasoned meat loaf in what must have been an onion gravy. This was the dish that I went back for more of. The fried chicken breasts that were out were HUGE. I dug deep into the serving tray to find a small piece. The mixed vegetables were nicely plain - not swimming in butter or seasoned in a way to not fully taste the broccoli, carrots, and zucchini that made up this mixture. The potato filling - stuffing made from potatoes - was light and not sweet so that you could taste the potato. The macaroni and cheese was not thick and gloppy but with a thin, mild cheese sauce that nicely covered the elbow macaroni. The pork and saurekraut was loaded with large chunks of pork. Break up the chunks on your plate into small pieces and you will enjoy this more. The stewed tomatoes were not overly sweet as some can be. The ham balls were also good. The pineapple sauce was sweet but not overly sweet.

I liked the Italian dishes as well. The chicken ravioli was better than the stuffed spinach rigatoni but both were good. The manicotti was as good as any that I have had when growing up. Even without the fennel sides the sausage was enjoyable, and the peppers were a mix of green, red, and yellow and were nicely cooked in the chunky tomato sauce.

There was a section on the side with breads. There were several specialty breads including raisin bread, slices of corn bread, pumpkin bread ('tis the season), cranberry bread, banana nut bread, and blueberry bread. There were also muffins - blueberry and cranberry. There were also white and whole wheat rolls. At the soup section there was an assortment of crackers. There was a lot of temptation. The corn bread was not sweet, but it wasn't not sweet - if you know what I mean. The raisin bread that was more like spiced raisin bread. It was dark and tasted like the "holidays", not at all like typical raisin bread - so good!

Desserts were as plentiful as everything else. There was a vast assortment of pies, some cakes, donuts, sticky buns, Danish pastry, and cookies. There was no sugar added apple pie and cherry pie. Of course, there was shoo fly pie. There was a large selection of puddings, fruits in syrup, containers of yogurt with granola to put in it. In this area prepared desserts are popular such as angel food cake at the bottom with pineapple on top covered in whipped cream in a tray, a tray of eclair "pudding", etc. There was also no sugar pumpkin cheesecake in a tray and no sugar tapioca. I love donuts. I over did my carb intake on this meal and had to reluctantly pass them by. Again, so much temptation. There was also a sundae bar with soft serve ice cream (that was good) and toppings. The sundae bar can be ordered separately as can the whole dessert bar.

This whole meal cost $10.99. The refillable soft drinks were $1.39. The quality was far beyond any chain buffet with a similar price- heck the quality was beyond many buffets that I have been to.

Service was very good. All plates were promptly taken away and refills of beverages were offered. Everyone was very pleasant too.

I was able to find out about the Seafood Night on Thursday nights. This meal is $17.99 - so you see that not all nights are $10.99. I suspect that many weeknights are. The Seafood Night includes Maryland Crab Cakes, coconut encrusted tilapia with pineapple butter, creamy mushroom/onion whiting, tomato basil catfish, mussels Provencal, steamed clams, New England Clam Chowder, snow crab bisque, peel and eat shrimp, Krab salad, coconut shrimp, breaded cod, breaded scallops, and southern hush puppies. At the grill there is grilled haddock with fruit salsa, and snow crab legs. This is well worth the $17.99. Selections may vary week to week.

I highly recommend this buffet. I am going back. It will be on a different night to see what other treats I will find. I cannot believe that this has been right under my taste buds and I never knew about it. I was almost reluctant to write this article because it was so good - and very much a local restaurant and not one frequented by tourists, that I did not want to spoil it. But heck, they need to make money just like everyone else. This was a great find. It was the best $10.99 buffet that I have ever had. Maybe it was the best at even a higher price too. Is it the best buffet I have been to - no, But with this one meal, it was way up there. If you are in this area, this is a must stop and eat!

The Dutch-Way Family Restaurant is located at the Dutch-Way Farm Market Supermarket at 365 Gap Newport Pike (Route 41), Gap, Pennsylvania 17527. The buffet is served from 4 pm to 8 pm Monday to Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays. This is about two and a half miles south of Route 30. There is a web site and that is linked at the side of this page. The phone number is 610-593-6080.


Greta said...

That sounds like a great one. I am just afraid that I would not be so discipined and would overindulge. I have done that in Atlantic City and was physically uncomfortable for days after. The breads, soups and desserts sound amazing and all at a good price. Although here in NY, our buffet selections are so bad that I would pay $29.99 for this if it was local. the only quality buffets around here are the Sunday brunches. You should write about some, especially the East Wind Caterers. Great article though. Bravo.

Writer said...

Greta - You have to always remember the title of this site - All you can eat is NOT a challenge. You are not supposed to eat until you feel sick. At a buffet you sample a little of what you like - and stop when you feel full (not bloated).

Stan said...

Not everyone is so disciplined. If everyone could do as you say, there would not be so many overweight people (myself included) in this country. When I see what I like at buffets (or weddings) I find it hard to just sample a little. I don't eat until I feel sick, but I do go past the feeling of being comfortable.

brian said...

Based on your review, we made a visit to Dutch-way on a thursday and had the seafood buffet. It was great that they had the snow crab legs and was a good deal for 17.99. If they didn't have the snow crab legs it wouldn't be worth it. Missing from the buffet on seafood night were the meatloaf and ham balls, and we didn't see the Maryland Crab cakes.

Thanks for pointing this buffet out.

Anonymous said...

I loved the blog so much that my husband and I ate at Dutch-way twice. We were there for the Seafood night, which is excellent. We are from Virginia and there is no place around us serving all you can eat crab legs for $18.99 by themselves, let alone with a buffet included. I thought that the peel-n-eat shrimp had sat in water too long-no taste. The rest of the buffet is very good. We also went on Friday night with is ham and prime rib. My husband found the prime rib to be very good and the ham is great. This really is a wellkept secret because my husband and I have been coming to this area for 30 years. The servers are very quick to get whatever you need. There is also a menu if you're not into buffets. We definitely will return.

Michele said...

I decided to take a chance last week when I was in Lancaster and eat at Dutch Way for lunch, fully expecting that I would have to order from a menu. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they have the buffet all day (not just 4-8 pm). I questioned the hostess, she told me they've offered the buffet all day for several years. Everything was delicious!

Writer said...

We were there last night again for dinner and it was as good as always. This buffet never disappoints.

Gregg said...

Just went there last Thursday, July 3, 2014 - with my 15 year old daughter. We read the reviews and it sounded great. Maust have been a bad night - the clams were rubbery & hard to chew and the crab (the main reason we went) was horrible! The crab was over done - went back 3 times - asking for a couple legs to see if it got better & it didn't! The meat stuck to the shell and the legs were extremely small. Spent $45.00 and would have to say it wasn't worth it! Very sad and disappointed. May give it another try, but will definitely take convincing for me to throw hard earned money on a subpar dinner. Hope this was just a fluke, but for my money and my opinion not worth it, if you are just going for the seafood portion of the buffet. Sad and disappointed - Gregg

Writer said...

We have never been there for Seafood Night and it is the most expensive night to dine there. I can't comment on the seafood served. I would say though that it is not a night I would go considering the price. I have had fish entrees here on other nights and it has been fine. Crab legs need to be hot (not sure how they were served to you) and stay hot while eating them or the meat will stick to the shell no matter where they are served. I don't bother with crab legs unless they are steaming and then only take one cluster at a time just to avoid their losing the heat. Clams is something also that I rarely eat at any buffet. We were actually there two nights before you on Tuesday, July 1 and had a great meal as always. It is a much simpler menu on other nights of the week - Tuesday is build a burger on the grill. What I go for at Dutch-Way is local cooking - and this is another reason why I would avoid seafood at other than a seafood specialized buffet. I avoid Seafood night at Shady Maple also. It is not what I have traveled here to eat.