Friday, December 16, 2011

VISITED THE CHOCOLATE WONDERFALL AT GOLDEN CORRAL

We were near the Philadelphia area and decided to have dinner at the Golden Corral in Bensalem,Pennsylvania. It was a Wednesday night and it was at the beginning of November. When we arrived at the restaurant it was not overly crowded but there were a good number of people there for dinner.I have written about this particular Golden Corral in the past. It is a fair location - not the best Golden Corral that I have been to. It is not the worst, but it has had its share of problems in the past. I was hoping that this trip would be good - and that my wife would find something to eat, as she does have difficulty finding things at Golden Corral and tends to eat mostly from the salad bar mixing salad with some of the cold, grilled, plain chicken that is out for the salads. I am always reluctant to suggest going to Golden Corral for this reason but she was actually the one who suggested it to me - so that we could get to see the Chocolate Wonderfall in person, after recently writing about it to inform all of you of this new feature.

This Golden Corral is about a mile or so from the PARX racetrack casino and I had to wonder as we sat down at our table if the odd assortment of people - mostly men around us were gamblers who came over here for a cheap meal. This was a much different crowd that I have seen here before, but I had not been here at this time of the year before. The casino has no buffet - much to my chagrin or you all would have heard about it from me by now. When these various tables emptied they were refilled by families - so I think my suspicions are correct. Anyway...

When we paid for our dinner and drinks my wife was handed her soda, but I was told that the server would bring my ice tea to our table. When we sat down it took a few minutes for the server to come and when I mentioned the ice tea he said that he would bring it right away. Fine. Just a bit odd - and we have been here before. He went off to get the tea and we went up to the buffet for soup.

I won’t go into the foods as they are so much the same as at all of the other Golden Corrals that I have written about in the past year. I was surprised to see that the poorly thought out seafood saute was still being featured - though now it has dropped the scallops and added crab cakes. This Golden Corral seems to have partly abandoned the cook to order idea and the chef who was also tending the steak grill, had two saute pans continually cooking shrimp and talapia (fish). On the side of the chargrill was a flat iron fry grill and on that he was scooping crab cake mixture and setting it down on the grill and flattening it out. All of the pasta, rice and grilled vegetables, and all of the sauces for the feature were at the side, now facing out for anyone to take and make their own plate of seafood. You still had to ask the chef for the shrimp, fish, or crab cakes. With this set up, it was not the fish or shrimp that were causing a long line,but the crab cakes. He was making just so many at time - not really filling the grill, and handing them out one at a time to each person on the line. And the line only moved, when that batch of crab cakes were ready. They needed to wake up to this and just keep crab cakes cooking at the back and bring them out - but no, this was a new hold up at the saute seafood fiasco. I had gone up three times just to try one crab cake and it was not until just before we were about to finish dinner was I able to get close enough so that I only waited about four minutes to get a crab cake. I wish that I could tell you it was a great crab cake. It was a bit mushy in the middle. I could not really tell if it was real crab. It did not have the texture of real crab - but there did seem to be something mixed in that could have been shell which would say then that it was real crab. Maybe yes and maybe no.

I should say that the first thing that I did once we headed up to the buffet was to walk over to the dessert area and see the chocolate fountain. And there it was. Several levels high (just like in the picture on the commercial) flowing from top to bottom with some type of chocolate substance. This is not real milk chocolate - it may taste like it but it does not have the consistency of melted real milk chocolate and it does not harden when as it cools, as real milk chocolate would. That is not a terrible thing, but it is something to be aware of. The chocolate fountain sat on the counter at anyone’s height including small children and was unattended. Next to the fountain were trays of what should have been the items to dip. All that were there were chunks of pineapple and a plate with rice krispy treat bars. There was a cup full of skewers that you are “supposed to” use to skewer FIRST what you are going to dip. There were no strawberries and no macaroons as stated on the sign on our table. I checked back several times during the night and when the rice krispy bars were gone all that was out was the pineapple. Let me get back to the meal and I will come back to the chocolate fountain shortly.

After soup, we went up for salad, and a number of the salad serving dishes were empty - many of the usual items that should have been out to create a salad needed to be refilled. There was one woman behind the counter who spent the entire night cutting lettuce - and talking to any employee that passed by. Despite requests, she never refilled those empty serving dishes. And as a result, there was no cold grilled chicken for my wife - nor were there most of the things that she eats when she eats salad. (Don’t comment that we should have said something - we did.)

To follow suit, at one point in the meal I went up to the hot buffet and many trays were empty - all at the same time. I sat back down and waited because I was not going to eat things that I did not want because they were not refilling food. It took about ten minutes and trays started to be refilled. Eventually, the hot foods were back out - but this should not happen and it is a sign of a poor kitchen manager and a poor buffet manager - not to mention the staff when this happens. The salad bar, however, was never replenished - but they had heaps of cut up lettuce - that I suppose they were keeping until the next day because that much lettuce would not be needed for that night - given the state of the rest of the salad bar.

So let’s return to the chocolate fountain. It was time for dessert and I was going to try it. My wife made a comment about chocolate fountains, in general, that had not occurred to me. If one is allergic to, let’s say,strawberries, and strawberries are dipped into the chocolate fountain (or dropped into the hot chocolate and lost below - then all of that fountain can cause a problem for that strawberry allergic person. With the pineapple chunks that were out, overly dripping with juice, that pineapple would certainly be mixed into the chocolate. So if you are allergic to any one of the items that are being dipped, beware! I had been keeping an eye on the fountain all night when I was up at the buffet to see what was going on there. What was interesting, is that there pretty much was no one dipping. Perhaps, that is because all that was left to dip was pineapple, but even when the rice krispy treat bars remained, no one was paying the Chocolate Wonderfall any attention!

Now, I titled this article “VISITED THE CHOCOLATE WONDERFALL AT GOLDEN CORRAL”.Notice that I did not say “tried” the Chocolate Wonderfall? That is because I could not try it. We were ready for dessert an hour and a half before this Golden Corral closes. There were still people on line to come in to eat. Tables were just starting their meal. And there was a young woman behind the dessert counter who was taking the chocolate fountain apart. She removed each layer, poured away the chocolate in a waste can next to her, and set the piece of the fountain in a bucket to be taken away. When she got to the bottom level, she started scooping out all of the things that had fallen into the fountain from what was lost at some time during the day and night during dips. So the final laugh - and I did laugh out loud - was that when it was time to try the Chocolate Wonderfall they were taking it away! When I got back to the table, my wife asked where was the whatever dipped in chocolate. I told her, that’s the laugh the whole fountain is gone. Lots of luck to all of those who came to have some - and in fact one of our readers commented on the article in November that they went to Golden Corral just for the chocolate fountain and there was none to be found!

By the way - there was not much in the way of dessert at this point that was being put out either. It could not have been that busy a day - and if it had been, management needed to anticipate what to do in that regard to keeping food out on the buffet.

Service from our server was overall fine. It is a good thing now that you get your own plates and you no longer need to rely upon the server to bring you clean plates each time you want to go up to the buffet. He did come by several times to bring drinks and ask about bringing drinks.
So there you have it. I tried to get a taste of that chocolate. I will say that it is A WONDER and it FALLS flat. Come on, Golden Corral - two losing ideas in a row. Perhaps they have brought you business, but you have to deliver when the people get there. And this time - like with the saute seafood - you did not deliver both at all and in any reasonable manner.

And it was another buffet meal that I felt real bad for my wife...

Now, allow me to apologize to you all as when this article was posted for some reason Blogspot put this post on the site blank. All of the text was there to be posted BUT nothing was posted. I still do not understand why. Anyway - the article is here now - formatted as best as I can get blogger to format it. Let's all hope this is not going to happen again.

Until next week...

8 comments:

Art said...

We went to the Golden Corral in Egg Harbor Township last Sunday. It opened in Feb. 2011 so was really new. I thought the price (10.99) was really reasonable. I LOVED it. My wife loved the meatloaf. My favorite thing was spicy vodka sauce on rice, but many other foods were delicious. Everything was fresh and refilled, except for the chocolate fountain. Could not find anything I wanted to dip. They finally put out some pineapple, but we were getting up to leave at that point. Plus, I was full anyway. Too bad there is not one around here. I liked it MUCH better than Old Country Buffet.

Art said...

Just typed out a long comment and it didn't save. Not going through that again. Blogger sucks, apparently.

Anyway, went to GC in Egg Harbor Township last Sunday and it was great. We all loved it. Wish there was one near us.

Alicia P. said...

I would have sought a refund after the fiasco you both had there. The one I went to, only saw pineapple and gribinis to dip. And not much of that. Sorry your wife had that experience.

Anonymous said...

Does this chocolate fountain have any type of protection (sneeze shield) from guest? It sounds like little kids would be coming up and sticking there fingers in the fountain all the time. Did you see that happen?

Writer said...

Sneeze shield - NO
Protection in any way - NO

Just my point. There is so much that can happen with a chocolate fountain that I am surprised that the Board of Health allows them!

Spatafora said...

I hate to say it, but I've seen a little kid put a pen in one of those and giggle his head off. No adult supervision or oversight by restaurant employees. Sad to say, this also goes on with other aspects of buffet dining, but I wanted to make all aware of it as far as the fountain is concerned. Suffice to say, I'll never partake of a choc. fountain again, either at a restaurant or a catered event. Can you blame me?

Anonymous said...

I have been to the bensalem many times. Long lines and yes you have to ask for anything in the salad bar. I had rude cashiers and rude servers too. I spoke to the owner who gave me some comps.

jmcgready said...

I went to the Bensalem Golden Corral a while ago and it struck me that they were not so much a buffet, but a restaurant trying to act like a buffet.

From the bottleneck at the entrance to the server's control of beverages to it's overall smaller layout than the OCB down the block, it's just not laid out well.