Friday, November 25, 2011

All You Can Eat One Night Only Special Dinner at IKEA Stores Restaurants

IKEA is an international chain of home furniture stores. They are located across the United States. They are known for their "knock-down" furniture - furniture that you build yourself. Each store has a restaurant and while these restaurants are not buffets, they do have at different times of the year one night dinners that are All You Can Eat. One of those dinners will take place in two weeks and I wanted to get this out out all of our readers in time. This is something that is quite different and for what it is very inexpensive. On December 9, 2011, IKEA Store restaurants will be serving the all you can eat Swedish Christmas Julbord, a traditional holiday meal from Sweden.

The price of this meal is $9.99 per adult and just $2.49 per child under 12 and it requires tickets purchased in advance. Tickets can be obtained at the IKEA Store at the restaurant. Seating is very limited and there will be two seatings at each store, 4:00 pm to 6 pm and 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Times may vary from store to store.

The menu that will be served includes: Assorted Herrings, Graved Lax with Mustard Sauce, Smoked Salmon with Horseradish Sauce, Whole Poached Salmon, Hard Boiled Eggs with Shrimp, Swedish Cucumber Salad, Red Beet Salad, Christmas Ham, Liverwurst Pate, Assorted Cheeses, Meatballs and Ligonberries, Prinskov Sausage, Red Cabbage, Boiled Potatoes with Dill, Gratang Jansson, Lussekatter, Crispbread, Thinbread, Dinner Rolls, Swedish Rice Pudding with Almonds, Assorted Desserts, Glogg (non-alcoholic), and Beverages - coffee, tea, and fountain drinks.

I have eaten at the IKEA restaurants from their usual daily menu and the food is good. This dinner sounds fabulous and it is an opportunity to try things that you have likely not had before - unless you are Swedish or have a Swedish restaurant nearby - and it is all you care to eat! The price is unbelievable - they will be losing money on the smoked salmon alone. Their usual desserts look great so the chance to have them like this makes this a meal that is not to be missed.

If you cannot make it to this year's Julbord at IKEA, there is another chance to have a similar meal at the IKEA restaurants in March 2012 for their Swedish Easter Smorgasbord. I, unfortunately, have to wait for the Spring dinner, but if you are able to attend this meal on December 9th, get over to your local IKEA store and buy your tickets now. Don't miss out!

There is a store locator on their website linked here. Enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Buffet for the Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner is a sumptuous feast and some of the most sumtuous feasts that I know of are at buffets. Not everyone wants to cook a large meal and not everyone has family enough to invite for a meal that consists of a groaning board loaded with the makings of a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Singles and those without family at all don't have to eat alone. Of course, there are many menu restaurants that are open on Thanksgiving and will serve from their menu what most expect to have on Thanksgiving, but what you are getting is a plate with a few slices of turkey, barely a scoop full of stuffing, some mashed potatoes, and some vegetable in a little plate on the side. And for this you will pay three times what this same dish would cost on any other day.

To enjoy a full and abundant Thanksgiving dinner, try a buffet. There are a number of buffet restaurants open on Thanksgiving from the major chains to as ritzy as the Waldorf Astoria's Thanksgiving buffet dinner. Each is putting out all of what goes into a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and it is all there for you to have all you care to eat.

Old Country Buffet, Golden Corral, and Ryans are serving Thanksgiving dinner at their buffets. Ponderosa - a buffet that I have not much considered a buffet but rather a supplement to their menu - is advertising a full Thanksgiving buffet that looks quite good - and for just $9.99 a person. None of these require reservations in advance, but they do have different hours than their regular weekday hours. For example, Old Country Buffet closes at 7:00 pm on Thanksgiving. It is a good idea to check the hours in advance.

Some buffets like Souplantations/Sweet Tomatoes are offering all of their specialties for purchase in advance to take out to your home.

In the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania area several of the buffets are opening for Thanksgiving and will be serving special buffets for the holiday. These include Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant and Family Cupboard Restaurant. Both have wonderful buffets on regular days and their Thanksgiving buffets look to be extra special and close as you can get to having cooked all of this at home and dining in a family atmosphere. These buffets do require reservations - and by now are likely fully booked. (But call anyway if you are interested, as you never know!)

I recently learned that the famous and elegant Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City serves a Thanksgiving buffet in one of their restaurants. I am certain that this is quite expensive - a salad at the restaurants at this hotel costs over $25 on their usual menus. The restaurants at the Waldorf are well known, and the cooking is supposed to be fabulous. So if you are the type that turns your nose up when the word "buffet" is mentioned - even you will be impressed with a Thanksgiving buffet at the Waldorf. Here, of course, reservations are a must and there is a dress code. Men should not show up without a jacket and tie.

Last year, tired of cooking for two days in a row, we decided to try a buffet for Thanksgiving. Did we go to the Waldorf? Certainly not! We went to Old Country Buffet. And it was very nice! We had a great time and were surrounded by other guests having nice times. This all gave a much more holiday atmosphere and feeling than just the two of us sitting at home. And dinner did not cost any more than the usual dinner buffet at OCB. We intend to do this again this year! In fact, even though OCB is not my most favorite buffet, and we eat there quite often - I am looking forward to the Thanksgiving Buffet there. It consists of what is basically served on their Sunday dinner buffet - carved roast turkey, roast beef, and ham, served with a selection of vegetables, potatoes, and the addition of whole sweet potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and most of what you would expect to have for Thanksgiving. And the staff - at least at the one that we went to - were not unhappy to be working on the holiday and all had a smile and did their jobs well.

So, if you don't have plans for Thanksgiving, check out a buffet. Remember to check the times in advance, and find out if you need a reservation.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers! Enjoy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chocolate Wonderfall at Golden Corral

Just when I thought that the made to order sauteed seafood at Golden Corral was one of the worst ideas that they could come up with, they follow this with a new dessert feature - Chocolate Wonderfall.

The Chocolate Wonderfall is a chocolate dipping area complete with a tiered fountain that pours down melted chocolate. With this you dip fresh fruit wedges, cookies, pretzels, macaroons, ricekrispy treats and more. The items are out for you on a wooden skewer and you hold the skewer at the end and dip into the chocolate. Sounds great, right? Yes, it sound great but I can imagine what will happen with this when left unsupervised.

I must be fair and say that I have not been to a Golden Corral yet to see this for myself. I have seen the commercials on television showing this. There is a YouTube video here. But I know buffets and I know what can happen if there is not a diligent employee supervising something like this.

So what could be wrong with this -

1. Sticking ones fingers in for a lick.
2. Double dipping.
3. Standing in front and eating one after the other piece dipped in.
4. Dropping things into the chocolate.
5. Children putting their hands in.
6. I could go on and on...

Shady Maple Smorgasbord in Pennsylvania has had a chocolate fountain like this on special occasions. There is always an employee at the table keeping a close eye on those dipping. And more than once I have observed the employee stopping someone from doing just what I have listed above. I cannot see Golden Corral assigning an employee to supervise this chocolate fountain constantly. They often do not have the staff to properly supervise the buffet.

I like Golden Corral. It is up at the top in my opinion in many ways - BUT they have had some dumb ideas this year. I have to wonder if there has been a change in management in the home office who is coming up with these poor ideas. My message to Golden Corral is stick to what you do best - a good, serve yourself buffet with simple and easy to take items.

If anyone has been to the Chocolate Wonderfall, please leave a comment about how it was and how well supervised it is. As soon as I can get to a Golden Corral, I will let you know what I see.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Rules of the Buffet

Since I just wrote about rules for those that work at buffets, it is time that we brought out our list of rules for those who dine at buffets. This list started with this site and has been added to over the years - here is the currently, complete list of Rules of the Buffet:


1. All you can eat is not a challenge. It is an offer!

2. There is no limit to the number of times that you can go up and get food.

3. Take your food in courses - as you would be served if ordering from a menu.

4. Everyone must pay!

5. No food is permitted to be taken out of the restaurant.

6. Take only what you will eat - do not waste food.

7. For a more social meal, it is polite to wait for the others at the table to finish their plates and then go up together to get more.

8. Take a clean plate every time that you go up to the buffet tables.

9. If you put it on your plate, leave it there. Never return food to the serving tray.

10. Never eat at the buffet tables!

11. Children under 12 should not be going up to the buffet tables alone.

12. The buffet table is not a cafeteria line.

13. Tip the server.

14. Never take a serving piece from one item and use it for another item.

15. Never place your dirty plates on someone else's table.

16. Never use your silverware to serve yourself from the buffet trays.

17. Once you have gotten what you want, don't stand around the buffet tables. Move on back to your table.

18. Children should remain seated through the meal.

19. Do not fill community plates for the "table". Each should take their own plate of what they wish to eat.

20. If you cough or sneeze into your hand, please do not use that hand to pick up the serving utensils.

21. In the buffet, as in any restaurant, children (and adults) should use their inside voices.

22. Don't talk on your cell phone while you are getting your food at the buffet tables.

23. Never bring an animal into the buffet. (this is not referring to medical guide dogs)

24. Never put your hands into a serving tray.

25. Tell your children not to put their hands into a serving tray - and make sure that they do not!

26. Do not carry on a conversation throughout dinner with the people at the tables around you.

27. Do not put anything back into a serving tray that has dropped onto the serving counter - and never put anything back into a serving tray (whether from the counter or your dish) with your fingers.

28. Never put the serving utensil, whether it a spoon, fork, or tongs, up to your nose to smell the food that you have taken out of the serving tray.

29. Do not eat while walking with your plate back to your table.