Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas/New Year's Special Dinner at Best Buffet, Huntington Station, NY

I am pushing this article ahead of other articles that are scheduled to appear on this site, as I want to give those who would like to try this special dinner a chance to get there for New Year's Eve 2012 or New Year's Day 2013. We have been to the very special Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day dinner at Best Buffet located in Huntington Station, New York last year and the year before on Christmas Day. We returned there again this year and were very pleased. Last year, and prior, at this restaurant there had been temperature problems with the food. There was no such problem this year and everything that I tried was very, very good!

This is a Chinese/Asian buffet and it is one of the highest priced such buffets in this area. The price for this special holiday dinner is $33.99 per person - the same as it was last year. This is the most expensive buffet dinner that I have been to and written about. It is way above most of the buffets that I recommend. This price is just for this special holiday dinner, but it is not much more than their usual weekend dinner. For a holiday dinner- we are talking about the biggie holidays here - it is not that bad. If you want soda or tea you will be charged $1.79 each more. They will automatically add a 12% tip onto the bill in addition to sales tax.  The children's price is $16.99!  The bill for the two of us without beverages - just water - was over $84.00. For us that is a lot - but I enjoyed the meal and that is what is important!

There are usually over 180 items on their buffet at dinner. This special meal is adding a number of special items to this - you will find:

Special Seafood bisque - this was a very unusual soup and unlike any bisque that I have ever had. It was a dark brown similar to hot and sour soup but not spicy. It had chunks of seafood - not sure what but some had the consistency of shrimp and lobster. It also had gelatinous noodles which may be soybean noodles. It was interesting and good.

Tokyo Beef Shortrib - this was a large roasted beef rib carved at the carving station. It was carved off the bone and placed on your plate. It was very rare at the center and crispy at the edge. It was very good.

Lobster Salad with Tropical Fruit - this was on the cold bar with the salads and fruit. It was white in color and it was pieces of lobster and fruit. As I have to watch which raw fruit I eat due to allergies I did not try it. I wished I could have!

Roast Suckling Pig - they have had this each year. This year it was on the carving station and you took it yourself. It was inch wide strips of pork with a very crisp skin and each strip was about three inches long. Unlike year's past, it was hot and very good. The skin is very hard to bite. It is worth trying!

Grilled Stuffed Clam - this was a half calm that was grilled with bacon on top. It was overly salty to the taste and the clam was very, very chewy. I tried one but did not go back for another.

Fillet Mignon with Pepper Cone - this was a large roll of Fillet Mignon that was roasted with a pepper cream sauce on top. It was very good and very tender. It was served and carved at the carving station.

Alaska Jumbo Crab Legs - these were single legs - not clusters and not very jumbo. There were both hot and cold crab legs. Mixed in were also steamed lobster claws.

Fresh Oysters and Clams - raw oysters and clams on ice next to the sushi bar. The oysters were large and tasty. I added cocktail sauce. There were several types of sauce to top them with.

Grilled Lamb Leg with Rosemary Sauce - served on the carving station.

Pan Fried Fresh Scallop - these were served at the grill and they had a dark sauce on them and they were served on a large scallop shell. The scallop was tender and very tasty!

Grilled Lobster with Cheese - these were half lobsters - small with no claw. Mostly you are eating the tail as there was no meat in the rest of the half shell. The lobster was tasty. There was always a line when these lobsters came out and they were served at the carving station at one per plate. When these lobsters were not out, there was lobster in ginger sauce served to your plate in a good quantity. The lobster in ginger sauce was tastier.

Italian Seafood Platter - I have to say I have no idea what this is - I did not see anything there that would meet this discription, but there was seafood everywhere on the buffet!

Salmon Fish with Dijon Sauce - there was a large salmon on the buffet. I am not partial to cooked salmon so I did not try it.

Jumbo Shrimp Scampi- these were large shrimp in garlic sauce. They looked very good.

Teriyaki Chilean Sea Bass - this was on the buffet and was very popular, especially with the Oriental people who were dining. Large chunks of Chilean sea bass were covered in a thick teriyaki sauce.

Roasted Peking Duck - this is always offered at the carving station here. The duck was large and meaty - and surprisingly not very fatty. Duck was carved and put in a thick, doughy steamed pancake and there were the traditional toppings and sauce for you to add yourself. There was no problem just carving several good sized pieces of duck to your plate.

Japanese Sushi and Sashimi - there is always a sushi bar here and there was a good variety of fish being offered. While I was at the sushi counter, one gentleman was asking for a certain roll and they were making it for him.

Seafood Delight with X.O. Sauce - this was no the buffet. I did not try it.

Roasted Prime Rib - this was on the carving station and they were carving thick slices of prime rib. This was real prime rib - not just roast beef. There were slices on the bone. The meat looked moist.

Fried Oysters with Wasabi - this was on the buffet. While I like raw oysters, I do not care for cooked oysters. If you like cooked oysters, these would be good.

Crispy Prawns with Mayonnaise - this was on the buffer. I did not try it.

Holiday Dessert - there was a variety of desserts with the most authentic being two Chinese dessert soups. There were cups of mango pudding, honeydew pudding, and chocolate pudding. There was a sign for creme brulee but there was no out. There were the usual Chinese buffet sheet cakes, a variety of cookies and macaroons, a coconut cake (which was gelatinous), kiwi fruit, something called Dragon Fruit which was red on the outside, white inside with black seeds, fruit salad, apple pie roll, and a sundae bar with soft serve ice cream. I tried a small piece of cheese cake which was not much more than the usual cheese cake found with the sheet cakes at many Chinese buffets. It was fine but not great cheese cake. I also tried something that looked like it should be a very thin chocolate cookie. A platter came out with very thin cookies in random shapes as a batter must have been poured out as liquid onto the baking sheet. There were the shapes of almonds (inside) bumped across the pieces. It looked like a chocolate cookie. It was hard to the bite and it did not really taste like chocolate. When you bit into the bump where the almond shape was it tasted like almond but no almond could be seen. It was very unusual - and without the chocolate taste was not really worth finishing.

These were the holiday features. In addition there were many other things to eat - some of which is found on their regular and weekend buffet and some not. There were two soup pots on the side near the carving station. One had duck soup. The other had spare rib soup. There were a variety of meets and seafood coming off the grill - beef, chicken, shrimp, octopus, and more. There were three dumplings - traditional shumai, a shumai stuffed with wild black rice, and pan fried pork dumplings. There were non-Asian foods like Fettuccine Alfredo (which was very good) and Chicken Marsala. They also have an hibachi grill now that they did not have in the past and there were raw meats and vegetables for you to choose and give to the chef to grill for you. There were many, many good things to choose.

The only problem is that there is so much, it is not possible to take even a small amount of everything that you would like to try. I tried to just take a little of what I wanted to try and still could not include everything that caught my eye. One thing that I had that is worth mentioning - along with so much else - was sweet and sour cod fish. The tray had a whole fried cod including head with bared teeth. There were large chunks of fried cod that were continually added to this tray and they were covered in a light sweet and sour sauce that was not the usual red sweet and sour sauce you usually get in a Chinese restaurant. This was very good. So much was very good.

When we were almost finished, my wife asked if I felt (pertaining to value) if this meal here or the meal at Captain George's Seafood Buffet in Virginia was better. That was a hard question to answer and she choose that buffet to compare to as it is the closest (though cheaper) to the price of this buffet. My answer was this meal and I based that answer on the carving station. Here you could make a meal of Prime Rib, Leg of Lamb, Fillet Mignon, Short Rib, Duck, and two types of lobster. And not include anything else. There is no place (at least locally) that you can do that for $34.00 - and the food was quality.

I do this holiday buffet once a year. It was a nice holiday dinner. I recommend that you try it and as New Year's Eve and New Year's Day is next week you still have an opportunity to go here and also enjoy this meal. Otherwise you have to wait until next year's holidays.

Best Buffet is located on Route 110 North - 179 Walt Whitman Road in Huntington Station, New York on Long Island. Their phone number is 631-385-0800. There is a website and that is linked at the side of this page.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Buffets, Inc. Gets New Chief Exec

With Buffets, Inc. coming out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this past summer, they have announced the hiring of a new chief executive, Anthony Weedo. Buffets, Inc. is the parent company of Old Country Buffet, Ryan's, Hometown Buffet, and Fire Mountain. Mr. Weedo replaces CEO R. Michael Andrews. I am told by a reliable source that we should recall Mr. Andrews as the executive that gave himself and other execs at Buffets, Inc. bonuses while the company was actively closing restaurants across the country without notice and without any exit benefits to restaurant employees or managers. This was the "Good morning, you are all fired. Go home." episodes that took place across OCBs and Ryans this past year.

Mr Weedo comes from corporations involved in the finances of restaurants and the mergers and acquisition of restaurant - not someone who knows restaurants from the inside. He has given an exclusive interview to Nations Restaurant News and is quoted as saying ""Stay tuned. We have a story here that will unfold in the next six to 12 months as we reinvite old guests back and bring in new guests. The company's spent a long time going through a painful process, and I want to lead them to a victory, which could include some new portfolio growth down the road."  He is calling his mission "Plan to Win". With Weedo is a new leadership team at Buffet's Inc. He wants to look at recipes and the menu. (Which may or may not be a good thing.) He likes the new Mongolian Grill concept that they have recently introduced to the restaurants and also the steak. (I will be writing an article in the near future about the Mongolian Grill - so far it is far from appetizing. As to the steak - the steak is good but no one at the restaurants know how to cook it so that you get a steak you can actually chew and bite through.) He has commented that other than an occasional store closure, there will not be the wholesale closings that we have seen in the recent past.

I wish Mr. Weedo all of the best. Perhaps he should look at OCB and Ryan's before the downfall. Bring back some of the things that people loved to go to those buffets for. Perhaps he should look more closely at what made Ryan's so much better than OCB before OCB took them over and instread of putting OCB food into Ryan's, put Ryan's food and methods of grill to order into OCBs. Time will only tell,

If you would like to read the Buffet's Inc. press release about the change in administration, it is linked here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Swedish Christmas Julbord at Ikea Store Restaurants

I have been sharing some wonderful meals that we have had at the Ikea Store Restaurants all you care to eat smorgasbord dinners that they hold four times a year. We recently enjoyed the Christmas smorgasbord - called the Swedish Christmas Julbord.

All of these dinners are held for two seatings on just one night. The first seating is at 4 pm and ends at 6. The second seating starts at 7 and ends at 9 pm. This year's dinner was held on December 7th. Tickets for the dinners must be purchased in advance and one week after the sign went up at our local Ikea store that the Julbord dinner was coming, we went to buy our tickets. The second seating was already sold out. I grabbed the first seating without hesitation. I don't usually like to dine this early but I was not going to miss this dinner. The price for the dinner is $12.99 for adults and $4.99 for children, but if you have an Ikea Family card - available free at kiosks all over the store, the price was discounted to $9.99 for adults and $2.49 for children. This is all inclusive except for sales tax. Your beverages are included and there is no tipping.

We arrived at 3:30 to wait on the already long line of people with tickets to get into the restaurant. The restaurant on these days is closed from the afternoon to the evening to prepare for this special dinner. While the Ikea restaurants are ordinarily cafeteria style, the cafeteria section is closed and large smorgasbord tables are set out where there are usually tables in part of the dining room. I noticed right away that many of the people on line were Seniors. Older people seem to like dining early. There were some families and younger couples mixed in. At 4:00 pm tickets started to be collected and the line quickly moved into the dining room. You are told to sit at any table you wish. Each table was festively set with  silverware, glasses with fanned red napkins in each one and for this dinner a bottle of a Swedish holiday drink made from hops and malt. It was a sweet soda drink that in essence was "beer soda" - though totally non-alcoholic. The couple that eventually sat down at the table next to us have been to Sweden and the wife was Swedish. They loved this drink and finished their bottle quickly. They have been to this dinner before and they made a point to comment to us how authentic everything served is. 

Once seated you go up to the smorgasbord tables as you please. There are a lot of people dining at these dinners and early on into the dinner there is generally a line to get up to the food. It never was more than a few minutes wait and there are very friendly employees who are directing the flow to get people to each of the two sides of the two smorgasbord tables. As you got halfway through the line area, there was a server offering everyone a hot cup of Glogg. This is a non-alcoholic version of hot spiced wine. The idea is that you will finish your cup of Glogg by the time you get up to the smorgasbord tables. I mistakenly decided to hold onto mine until I got back to the table and juggled it as I filled my plate.

The food at each of the smorgasbord dinners that I have been to at Ikea have been very much the same from one dinner to the next. There are slight variations and also some differences in how some of the food is prepared. I will list through menu that was offered - and if you have read my articles about Ikea smorgasbords before you will not a lot of similarity.

There were three herrings. All were in a wine sauce. Two I had a hard time telling apart though the seasonings visible with the herring in the sauce were different. The third was sweeter than the other two - and I preferred that more than the other two. There was Gravad Lox with Mustard Sauce on the side. This is smoked salmon - similar to American lox but seasoned  a bit differently. There were large rolled slices of the salmon to take. The mustard sauce was a bit sweet and you added this as you wished. There was Najad Salmon with Horseradish sauce. This was cold smoked marinated salmon thinly sliced. There was also poached salmon - a large whole salmon poached and set out on a platter. You dug out what you liked from the fish and scooped it onto your plate. There was a nice cold cream sauce on the side to add to this. I have commented on this before - I do not like cooked salmon. I do like this poached salmon. There were also hard boiled eggs with shrimp stuffed into the middle of each half egg. There was one more fish dish that I was not aware was fish until later in the meal. There was what looked like au-gratin shredded potatoes. My wife asked me about them and it looked to me to be just potatoes. If you read this site regularly you know that my picky eater wife does not eat fish. I took some and she waited for me to report to her.  The potatoes were good but a bit salty and there was a grainy feel mixed in with the cheese. I told her that they were just potatoes but they were salty. On her next trip up to the smorgasbord she took some. She did eat it and commented that there must be something more than potatoes. I was sure not and I spoke too soon. On one of my trips up I saw a sign on the table near this platter that I had not seen - GRATANG Jansson - with an explanation - shredded potatoes with cheese and herring. I wondered if I should tell her. I asked if she wanted to know. She did and it was no big deal, but she took no more of it. Other than the salt, it was good.

Those were the fish dishes but there was much more. There was Swedish Cucumber Salad, Red Beet Salad, and Swedish Potato Salad. I particularly liked the Swedish Potato Salad. There was Christmas Ham that was being carved on a table of its own. The ham had a thick crust on the outside. The ham was served cold. There was sharp mustard served on the side. There were Prinskorv Sausages which are a favorite of mine. There were Swedish Meatballs in creamy gravy and there were jellied Ligonberries on the side. There was hot red cabbage. There was supposed to be boiled potatoes with dill, but in their place was mashed potatoes with dill. On a side counter there were several different cubed cheeses. There was also Swedish crisp bread and also large pieces of a French type loaf bread.

The usual Ikea soda bar beverages are available including Ligonberry juice plus Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, etc. There is also coffee and tea.

I know that many of my readers want to hear about deserts and, yes, there were several desserts to choose from. There was Swedish Rice Pudding with Almonds. There were also two other puddings. A platter was stacked high with squared of chocolate truffle cake. This was a rich and very thick cake - more like a fudge than cake. It was quite good. The rice pudding was interesting - the rice was not cooked soft as some rice puddings are. There were also very thin Swedish holiday cookies.

This dinner was excellent and the value was phenomenal. If you came even to Ikea for a single plate of any of the fish dishes that were offered here as much as you cared to eat, you would pay almost as much as this entire dinner cost. Where I live, even at a deli counter, Lox is extremely expensive. Here was all you wished to eat.It is rare to find smoked salmon or lox on a buffet and if you do it will not be one of the lesser priced buffets.

Everyone around us was enjoying this dinner. The Swedish lady next to us was piling her plate high - as was here husband. While we were eating we heard people at another table talking about purchasing tickets for the next dinner which is for Easter in March. It sounded like the tickets were being sold right then at this dinner. My good wife went up to find out and came back with two tickets - again $9.99 with the Family Card for the later seating of the Easter Smorgasbord.

If you have an Ikea store near you and you want a buffet dinner that is something very different, keep an eye out for signs about the Easter Smorgasbord in March. In fact, you could ask now at the restaurant cashier. Get one of the Family Cards - they give changing discounts in the store and also free coffee or tea at the restaurant - which day to day is not a buffet.

I look forward to the next Ikea smorgasbord!

Friday, December 07, 2012

Timber Creek Grill Buffet - Idaho and Washington States

I have come across a buffet that looks very interesting. There are two locations and they are located in the Northwest corner of the United States. The buffet restaurant's  name is Timber Creek Grill Buffet and one is located in Spokane, Washington and the other is located in Lewiston, Idaho. For those who are not all that familiar with geography, the states of Washington and Idaho border on each other.

I must start out by saying that I have never been to either of these locations and I only know about these buffets by chance. I have not eaten there. I cannot tell you if the food is good or not. The buffet looks good and has an interesting menu variety and I thought that I would share it with you all. This is the type of buffet that I like to go to and if there was one that I could get to - and all was as good as it looks, I would go there frequently. It is also not often that I find buffets in this part of the country to share with my readers.

The food type is what has become know as "American" despite the variety. In fact, it changes by the day of the week.  They also have a breakfast buffet on the weekends. Each day is a different theme food. There is a large salad bar and a dessert bar.

I will tell you about the dinner features. The lunch features are similar but there are less choices at lunch. Monday is "Timber Creek Favorites". At dinner on Monday night you will find Meat Loaf, Beef Liver & Onions, Macaroni & Cheese,Timber Wings,Chicken Fried Steak,Butterscotch Rolls,Chicken & Dumplings, and the soup of the day is Broccoli.  Tuesday and Saturday share a theme and that theme is BBQ. On those nights you will find BBQ Pork Ribs, BBQ Beef Ribs, BBQ Chicken, BBQ Wings, Macaroni & Cheese, Baked Potatoes, Fresh Baked Bread, and the soup of the day is Steak Soup.  Wednesday is Italian and you will find Spaghetti & Meatballs, Veal Parmigiana, Manicotti, Garlic Cheese Biscuits, Texas Toast, Ravioli, Butterscotch Rolls, and the soup of the day is Minestrone.Thursday is Mexican and on Thursday's you will find King Ranch Chicken, Sirloin Burgers, Grilled Cheese, Macaroni & Cheese, Enchiladas, Beef or Chicken Fajitas, Tacos, Nachos,  Chicken Tenders, Cotton Candy, and the soup of the day is Cream of Tomato. Friday is seafood (what else?) and on Fridays you will find Scallops, Steamed Clams, Salmon Bites, Shrimp Scampi, Baked Fish & Fried Fish, Fried Clams, Fried Shrimp, Baked Potatoes,Mussels, Pickled Herring, Seafood Alfredo and the soup of the day is Clam Chowder. On Sundays dinner is served all day from 11:30 am and you will find on the buffet Carved Turkey Breast, Chicken & Dumplings, Yams, Scalloped Potatoes, Lasagna, Baked Potatoes,Timber Wings, Bread Dressing,Yukon Potatoes, and the soup of the day is again, Clam Chowder.

You will notice that the menu here is a bit different from the familiar chain buffets in that it does not feature the usual southern style cooking which always seems to include fried chicken. Every night at dinner they also serve Steaks Grilled to Order, Carved Ham, and Carved Roast Beef.
The two restaurants are run by one family - the Klinke family who have been running restaurants in Washington state since the 1970's. The restaurants also appear to be involved closely with their communities giving food to school districts, feeding veteran's and active military for free in recognition of Veteran's Day and other worthwhile causes.

I  have seen very positive comments about how clean the restaurants are and how good the food is.
Lunch is served from 11:30 am and dinner starts at 3:30 pm. I do not have a closing time for the restaurants. I do not have any prices, but from comments I would say that the price per person at dinner is similar to the other chain buffets and two can eat for about $25 or less at dinner.

If I am ever in Spokane or Lewiston, this is a must visit for me. If any of you have ever eaten at either of these locations at Timber Creek Grill Buffet please leave a comment and tell us how it is.

Timber Creek Grill Buffet is located at 9211 E. Montgomery, Spokane Washington 99206 - telephone number 509-892-6390 and at 2305 Nez Perce Drive, Lewiston, Idaho 83501 - telephone number 208-743-5430. There is a website and it is linked on the side of this page.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thanksgiving at Old Country Buffet

It was just the two of us for Thanksgiving dinner this year and rather than cook at home we decided to go out for Thanksgiving Dinner. There are local menu restaurants that do one time buffets for Thanksgiving but these are priced high and generally, in a restaurant that just serves by the menu day to day, buffets are either a disappointment or are staffed by employees who would rather be at home and are unhappy about working.  Now, unhappy employees having to work on a holiday can be found at any restaurant, but in the past three years that we have been going to Old Country Buffet for Thanksgiving, this has not seemed to be the case. At least the employees at the OCB that we frequent have not shown it, if they are unhappy about having to work on Thanksgiving.

This year Old Country Buffet, and also Golden Corral Buffet increased their price for the Thanksgiving Day meal. An ad showed the price for Golden Corral on Thanksgiving as $12.99. The Old Country Buffet that we went to usually charges $11.29 for an adult dinner and on Thanksgiving this increased to $11.99. Of course, at both chains the price does not include a beverage and at OCB the beverage is an additional $1.99. The restaurant would be open until 7:00 pm.

We arrived at the OCB at about 4:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day. There was a short line at the cash register but a longer line inside to be seated. We waited about ten minutes or so to be seated. One of the OCB managers was seating guests. Once seated, just like any other day at OCB you are on your own to get your beverage and start at whatever part of the buffet you wish.

Dinner that was being served was similar to the usual Sunday OCB offerings with several additions in side dishes. There were three soups out. One was the usual Chicken Noodle soup, another was the Sunday featured Corn Chowder, and the third soup was Cream of Broccoli. 

The salad bar was the same as always. There was the pre-mixed Caesar Salad, the usual assortment of mixed greens and also raw spinach. If you have been to any OCB, you have seen exactly what the salad bar contains.

The meat that most expect on Thanksgiving is turkey, and they are carving their usual turkey breast. In addition there was roast beef, ham, and steak. There seemed to be a lot of people passing the turkey by and choosing the other meats - and there were some who were asking for the carver to cut an assortment. (There was one man who already had a plate piled high with food who asked for one of each carving. With no room on his plate for anymore, the carver just piled one piece on top of the other. There was not really a long line to the carving station at any time. Wouldn't it have been a lot more appetizing to come back for the meat one type at a time? Some of what you see go on, you wouldn't think to make up!)

In addition to the carvings there were all of the traditional side dishes for Thanksgiving and more. There were candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, corn, carrots, string beans, corn bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, and butternut squash in a sweet sauce. There were also some not so traditional side dishes - all of which you may find at OCB at various times. These included french fries, baked potatoes, broccoli and cheese sauce on the side, cauliflower in cheese sauce, boiled cabbage, spinach casserole, macaroni and cheese, and spaghetti with tomato sauce on the side.

To add to the carvings in the way of entrees there was fried chicken, baked chicken, fried shrimp, beef and chicken tacos with fixings, and pizza. There was no way that one could not find something that they would like to eat.

Dessert was the usual assortment of desserts at OCB. There was, in addition to everything else, traditional pumpkin pie and pecan pie. I had to have a piece of pumpkin pie. The slices were not thick but they were good. There was whipped cream to spoon on top. 

There were large families dining that went over a dozen people. There were average families, couples, and singles all enjoying their Thanksgiving Dinner at Old Country Buffet. The restaurant did seem more crowded than usual when we have been there for Thanksgiving, and we are pretty certain it was due to the many families near this OCB who were severely effected by the disastrous Hurricane Sandy that resulted in the loss of many homes in this area and beyond. In fact, there were several emergency relief workers dining here together in wearing their emergency uniforms and bright yellow vests.  What I like about going to OCB for Thanksgiving is that you are not eating alone - even if it is two of you. You are eating around other people who are enjoying the holiday and there is a festive atmosphere created just by the diners. And as I said, the employees at least made if feel that they were happy to be there with you too. (Though the manager who was seating tables did at times seem overwhelmed and mumbled a bit as he walked by, but he did keep a smile and was greeting people with holiday appropriate salutations.) The general manager was also in the restaurant and was dining in the dining room with his family- while also keeping an eye on things.

The dinner went smoothly. If I was the manager, I would have made sure that there was always another turkey ready to come out as soon as the one being carved was nearing the bottom. At one point, more turkey would not be out for another five minutes. In fact, I would have had two turkey breasts out under the heat lamps bring carved. This was minor and other than this there was never an empty serving tray.

I had a good Thanksgiving dinner. The service was excellent and I tipped more than I usually do - just because it was the holiday. The only drawback is that there are no leftovers.

Old Country Buffet is closed on Christmas Day. They are open Christmas Eve and New Year's Day. There is a link to the OCB general website at the side of this page.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Back to Capt. George's Seafood Restaurant, Williamsburg, Virginia

Captain George's Seafood Restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia is one of the few, what I consider, expensive buffets that I go to. When I say expensive, I am talking about dinner for two with just soft drinks coming to almost $80 after tax and tip. If someone asked me what is the most complete and best seafood buffet that you have experienced, my answer would be Captain George's. A number of years back I would see more buffets like this but no longer. Seafood buffets are harder and harder to find.

There are four locations of this restaurant. They are in Williamsburg, Va, Virginia Beach, Va, Outerbanks, NC, and  Myrtle Beach, SC. The adult dinner buffet is #31.00. Children are charged half price. There is also a menu to order from, though most order the buffet.

The food is good. For the extent of the seafood that you are offered, the value is good as well. There is no lobster on the buffet, but there is an overwhelming assortment of crab, crab dishes, other shellfish, and fish, as well as chicken, beef, and pork. There is a large salad bar with crab salad and shrimp salad along with other prepared salads and tossed salad to make yourself. There are always two soups and they are always the same - a wonderful she crab soup which is thick and creamy with a slightly sharp taste - and New England Clam Chowder which is equally good. Because I only find the she crab soup here, that is what I have, and am tempted to go for a second cup if there was not so much more to take after the soup.

This is the place to come if you like crab legs. The crab legs are continually replenished and come hot hot and steaming. These are snow crab clusters - all of the legs and claw on the cluster and they are large. Many just pile their plate up with them. I have found that crab legs are best eaten hot and if you allow them to cool to much the meat is hard to remove from the shell. I recommend taking just one or two clusters at a time and then go back for more hot ones. There will always be more to take when you go back here at Captain George's. You can make a meal out of the crab legs alone. But there is more shellfish to take. There is hot steamed shrimp, both spiced and plain. There is also cold steamed shrimp back on the salad bar. There are steamed crawfish. There are small steamed clams - "steamers". You will also find Oysters Rockefeller. In season, you will also find steamed blue crabs. And this is just what is on the shellfish bar.

There is a long buffet of seafood entrees. Many are prepared crab dishes such as  Norfolk Special which is crab meat, shrimp, and scallops in a butter garlic sauce, baked Crab Imperial which is a crab meat casserole, Deviled Crab, soft-shelled crabs in season - which I got to try on this last visit and they were wonderful, and still it goes on and on. And for those who do not like seafood, there is good southern fried chicken, sliced prime rib of beef, and barbecue pork ribs without the bone. And I have not listed everything that is on the buffet. I could go on listing the various types of fried and broiled fish, the side dishes, the potatoes, the hush puppies, the broiled and fried shell fish, and on and on. Dinner here can be overwhelming and this is one of those buffets that even if you try to control yourself, you walk out feeling that you have eaten too much.

Dessert is an assortment of Greek pastries, cakes, hot cobblers, fruits and puddings - in particular Greek rice pudding. Desserts here are on the sweet side - as many want them to be!

I am in this area twice a year and each time I think, well, we can skip Captain George's because it so expensive. (I know many of my readers can afford spending close almost $100 for dinner for two. I just can't.) But when we are near here, I just can't resist and always go back.

The one thing to be aware of when you come to the Williamsburg location is that the restaurant has a mystery dinner theater attached to it and dinner is the buffet. If you come at the same time that dinner is set for the dinner theater you will encounter longer lines at the buffet servers than usual because of the people coming in all at once from the theater. Once they come through once or twice, the flow at the buffet servers returns to normal.

I very much recommend trying the buffet at Captain George's Seafood Restaurant. It is an experience.I have never tried any of the other locations. A friend went to the Captain George's in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and told me it was great.

This Captain George's is located at 5363 Richmond Road, Williamsburg, VA 23188. The phone number is 757-565-2323. Large parties should make reservations in advance during the summer. There is a link to the main webpage for all locations at the side of this page.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Back to Dutch-Way Family Restaurant, Gap, PA Again and Again

Since my last article about Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in Gap, PA this past June, we have been there again several times. We have found another favorite to add to our list of must eat at when we are in Lancaster County. The food is good and the selection is always fine, even on their feature nights.

One thing that is nice is that the offerings on the buffet always seem to include something different each time in addition to items that they always have. It is good to mix in some variety and they do this well. After a minor disappointment at the Meyerstown location of the Dutch-Way Family Restaurant, I wanted to go back to Gap for the Friday/Saturday night weekend buffet. The feature on these nights is the carvings – Prime Rib and Ham. I actually have been back twice for the weekend buffet. Actually, my second ever visit there had been on a Saturday night. Was that great meal just a one time occurrence – or was there really a big difference between the two locations?

Yes, there is a big difference between the two locations – in ambiance and in how the food is presented. The cooking is close but I feel that the food is better at Gap – in terms of taste. Everything that was my first and second impression of this buffet in Gap continues to hold true visit after visit.

This is a buffet located as part of a supermarket complex – like Yoders Restaurant/Buffet in New Holland, PA but with a different ambiance. While Yoders – where the food and selection are also excellent – has a more casual dining room with hard backed booths, Dutch-Way in Gap has a more formal dining room arrangement. Not shi-shi fancy, but comfortably nice. (Please do not take this as any slight to Yoder’s dining room – they are just different. What you will find at Dutch-Way is a nice combination of Pennsylvania Dutch Amish cooking and American fare. There may be chicken bot boi in one serving tray and next to that will be a fancy fish dish in a sauce. There may be a dish that is spicy ala Tex-Mex next to plain farm cooking.

The salad bar is extensive. There are four soup selections. The buffet area is extensive and includes some very interesting prepared desserts along with many other temptations like nice slices of layer cakes. Service at Gap has always been good – very good.

I should mention that the feature on Thursday nights is Seafood and includes crab legs and a large selection of seafood dishes. I know many of my readers like all you care to eat crab legs and seafood. The price on Thursday nights is more than other nights.

Again, I highly recommend Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in Gap, PA. I think sometimes that I should not share these hidden treasures, but I must share this one. Go there – it is off the beaten path at the border of Lancaster County and while it is not hard to find, getting into the entrance can be tricky.

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.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Family Cupboard, Lancaster, PA Up For Sale

I have written about the Family Cupboard Restaurant and their buffet many times on this site. The owner of the restaurant has announced that he has the restaurant up for sale. I have commented that there is a connection between the family that owns and runs Family Cupboard and the family that owns and runs Dienner’s Restaurant, also in Lancaster. It turns out that the father of the man who owns Family Cupboard is the owner of Dienner’s and this connection leads to the reason why Family Cupboard is up for sale.

The owners of Family Cupboard are John Dienner and his wife. John’s brother has been working with their father and mother to run Dienner’s Restaurant on Route 30 in Lancaster. John’s brother will be leaving the business and John has said that he feels that it is only right for him and his wife to leave Family Cupboard and go and help run Dienner’s. So, Family Cupboard has been listed for sale.

One thing that John Dienner is looking for is someone that will buy the restaurant and keep it running as it is – including keeping all of the employees. This restaurant has a very close family feel and one reason for that is that the employees are treated like family. For that matter their guests are treated the same. I do hope that they find a buyer who is willing to do this. So many new owners have their own ideas and want to do things their own way. On one level you cannot blame them, but when buying a successful operation, as this is, it is a road to failure if they do not continue what made the location successful before.

 Some of you who are regular readers will recall, that a number of years back Family Cupboard was the “new name and location” of a restaurant called Harvest View – owned and operated by John Dienner and his wife and many of the employees who you will find at Family Cupboard now. They wanted to move the restaurant to a location that would be more visible than the back road location in the middle of the farm fields. Harvest View was taken over by an absentee owner who was not from this area and had no idea about what would make this restaurant/buffet work – and allowed it to slip until it went out of business. And it went out of business with good reason. (See some old articles here that will show you why.) My fear is that will happen again here at Family Cupboard. It is extremely important that the new owner be a local and someone who appreciates this restaurant for what it is – as it is. Sadly, with business, you often get into a position when you have to sell that you just sell. I hope that this does not happen here. There is another restaurant, unrelated to Family Cupboard, that was the Leola Family Restaurant which also had a small buffet. That restaurant was sold to Greek owners from the “big city” who ran this country farm cooking restaurant with a semi-Greek menu and while it took some time for the restaurant to close – it did close and is sitting empty after quite some time.

 I have written about Dienner’s. The buffet menu is close, if not sometimes, just the same as Family Cupboard. My personal preference has been Family Cupboard but Dienner’s is good. The only problem at Dienner’s is their hours. They are only open until 6:00 pm for dinner except for one day – Friday when they are open to the same 8:00 pm as all of the other local and buffet restaurants. My great hope is that John Dienner when he comes to Dienner’s increases the dinner hours to 8:00 pm Monday to Saturday – as they were at Family Cupboard. This would certainly get me there more often – and while Dienner’s is always crowded, it would increase income from customers who find dinner before 6:00 pm just too early – and that income is nice for the owners too.

I have an idea for John Dienner and I hope that he reads this article. Don’t sell Family Cupboard. Hire an operating manager who you can trust to run the restaurant and buffet just as it is. While the restaurant continues in the family it is almost a guarantee that their employee family and the good food and service that Family Cupboard is known for will continue.

John Dienner will start full time at Dienner’s Restaurant in January 2013. This Thanksgiving will be the last Thanksgiving Buffet served at Family Cupboard as it is now – and that Thanksgiving buffet, I hear, is fabulous.

I also hope that John Dienner continues his seasonal newsletter only now to the customers of Dienners. I look forward to seeing this and read it right away when it arrives by email. It used to be mailed out until postage got expensive. It really does give a feeling of family and often contains news and tidings about the employees and their families. This is something that you just don’t get at most restaurants – in fact, in my experience, at any restaurant!

It was very sad news for me to learn that Family Cupboard is up for sale. I wish John Dienner all of the best and I know he will bring greater things to Dienner's. 

Family Cupboard is located at 3029 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505 and the phone is (717) 768-4510. There is a website and it is linked at the side of this page. There is also a link there for Dienner’s which is located at at 2855 Lincoln Highway East in East Ronks, Pennsylvania (This is US Route 30). Their phone number is 717-687-9571.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Another Try at Peking Restaurant, Williamsburg, Virginia

In October 2011 and then again in February 2012, I wrote about an Asian buffet restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia that had been one of our favorites. It is the Peking Restaurant and in 2007 it received a Best Buffet award from this site. Before October 2011 we had not been back to this area in several years and when we returned we expected to find this favorite buffet just as it always had been. It was not. You can go back and read the articles in October and February. I am not linking them here because I want to associate this article with the negative experiences that we had in those articles. I will say that after the last visit written about in February we decided that we would not go back to the Peking Buffet.

Since then I have learned what happened there. The general manager who had been there all along was no longer there - apparently, not by his choosing. He did go to open another buffet restaurant in the area which I have written about - Wasabi - and that buffet was very good. I have said on this site many times that the manager can make or break a restaurant - and especially a buffet! We are experiencing this with another buffet that we frequent whose excellent manager was let go for unknown reasons and the good buffet has nose-dived to barely a fair buffet. Others who liked Peking Buffet also noticed what I did last year and agreed with me. Things were not good there anymore.

We found ourselves in Williamsburg, Virginia again recently - as those of you who are regular readers know from the recent Williamsburg buffet articles. We had intended to have more than one dinner at Wasabi - the restaurant that the former Peking Buffet manager opened. We we got there we found Wasabi closed. There were advertisements everywhere for Wasabi. The building was dark and a sign on the door indicated renovations were being done. What I later learned was that the owner - the man from Peking Buffet - was made an offer by a Virginia "name" chef to buy him out, which he did and the owner left the US to go to Taiwan. Perhaps good for him, but not so great for those of us who really liked his buffet. The new restaurant that has opened at Wasabi's location is not a buffet and an up-scale Oriental menu restaurant with high prices.

So, I told you all that to get to this. We got to a point that we did not know where to go for dinner. We had been to the other buffets enough and could not really afford the menu restaurants around town other than the chains and did not want to do that. My wife, with reluctance, said to me do you want to try Peking Buffet again? My first response was no. I thought about it and found myself driving to Peking Buffet. I knew that nothing really would have changed there, but perhaps someone there read one of my more recent articles and maybe it might be different.

In terms of layout and serving areas, everything is the same.  One of the things to understand about the food here as I, personally, am concerned, is that on the buffet now there are an overwhelming number of items on the buffet that are either very sweet or extra hot and spicy. There are dishes that I can take at other Chinese buffets and not have a problem with, that I cannot take here because they are over-spiced. Some may find this as a good thing. I want to taste the food and not the spiced heat. Going up to the buffet for food, I had to be sure to select things that I was going to be OK eating. My wife, as the regular readers know, only eats "plain" foods - not just not spicy but beyond that. I decided that I would follow what she was taking and eat similarly - and perhaps I would have a better experience here than I have had on my last two visits.

We started with the noodle soup station which will create a soup to your order using any of several noodle types. This has always been good here - and was equally good on our last two visits. We like Vietnamese pho soup and that is what we had the soup chef at the counter make for us. It was good - it always has been good.  It still is.

I moved on to the "Sushi Train" which in my last two articles I explained is a moving counter with sushi on plates that move past you and you take the plates that you want. This concept does not work well at a buffet. First, you can stand there an overly long time waiting for something that went past to come back around again. Second, if you want five pieces of sushi, you are picking up five small plates. How are you supposed to carry all of these small plates back to your table. There are no trays. I went up with a large plate. I had decided that I would do one of two things. I would either take a small plate and dump the contents onto my large plate - and then have to get rid of the small plate - or I would use the large plate as a tray to carry the small plates stacked up. I went with the plate as a tray idea as I decided it would be rude to stack the little plates up on their counter and leave them. It would make a statement to how this idea does not work, but I would not do that. I took several plates of sushi and carried them back carefully on top of a dinner plate. The variety of sushi is broad. It is not well labeled and it is often a surprise when you find out that what you thought you were taking is not at all that. They have enough area to make a nice sushi serving area - but they continue with this "train" idea.

I went on to main courses and side dishes. I completely skipped the Thai section. These are beyond hot and spicy. The Japanese hibachi area is serving teriyaki and that is also made spicy. I am not sure why. I skipped that as well. There were some dumplings, noodle dishes, and rice dishes there that were fine. On the main buffet server between the Mongolian BBQ and the Japanese hibachi, there was a mix of standard Chinese dishes such as chicken and broccoli, pepper steak, and the like and then a number of hot and spicy dishes, and then a number of sweet dishes. As I said, I watched my wife and chose dishes that were plain to mild. One dish looked plain enough until you saw that the pan was lined with chili peppers. But there at least were things this time that were there to take that were not spicy. If you like sweet, there were a number of dishes cooked in sweet sauces.

I also went over to the Mongolian BBQ and remembering my last visit I made my plate up of meat - I took chicken - there was also beef, pork, lamb, and shrimp - and raw shredded vegetables and bean sprouts and put none of the sauces that were there on top. The sauces - even those that should not be  - are spicy. This was cooked for me and when I got back to the table I added soy sauce to moisten it. As I had it made, it was fine for me. Again, if you like hot and spicy, you can go to town with mixing the sauces that are out to have your meat and vegetables cooked in.

On one side of the round Mongolian grill serving counter there is a cold section and there were steamed shrimp on ice there. These shrimp are served with the heads on. This is how they would be served in the Orient. Most Americans don't like to see shrimp with the heads on. If you break off the head, it is just the same as the cocktail shrimp you usually fine.

The desserts here are typical Asian buffet desserts - little squares of cake, fruit, ice cream. One does not go to an Asian buffet for the desserts.

The restaurant is clean. Service is fine. At this meal we both had enough to eat. I did not feel hungry after we were through and we were both fine. I was able to find enough to eat this time even being careful in what I was choosing.  Overall, this was a much better experience than we had on the last two visits and meals eaten here.

Would I go back?  On this experience, I would go back and likely, will. Do I recommend Peking Restaurant? After your reading what I have written here in regard to the level of spice used and the types of foods that you will encounter, if you like spicy and/or sweet - or if you have no problem with picking and choosing to find what you can that is on the plain side, then yes, try it. I eat at a lot of Asian buffets. I have not had to pick carefully at any other as I find I have to here. Again, this is me - and there are others out there just like me. If you have food restrictions, it gets a little harder.  I do miss the Peking Restaurant that I once knew. There was a far wider variety of foods and the emphasis did not used to be on spicy and sweet.

The price of dinner here is $11.99. Lunch is $7.99. Thai food is only brought out after 4;30 pm. Sushi is served after noon. Soft drinks with refills are additional. The restaurant is open 7 days a week. Unlike many family buffets, there is a full service liquor bar.

The Peking Restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia is located at 120 Waller Mill Road in the Big Kmart Shopping Center. (Kingsgate Green Shopping Center – Bypass Road (Rt.60)). There is a website and that is listed at this side of the page.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Tale Of Two Golden Corrals - Virginia PART II

In Part I I wrote about our not so great experience at the Williamsburg, Virginia Golden Corral. That night we got on the computer and looked for Golden Corrals in that area. The next nearest Golden Corral is in Newport News, Virginia. After that the next one was in Hampton Roads. We had been to the Golden Corral in Hampton Roads many years ago. It was nice, but Newport News was closer and straight down I64 and right off the exit in a shopping center. We decided that we would go there on one of the nights of this trip.

The Newport News Golden Corral was easy to find. The trip from Williamsburg was not that long. It is located in the parking lot of a shopping center with several stores. The shopping center was quite spread out and there was plenty of parking for the restaurant which stands alone in a corner of one of the parking lots. You are pretty much out of the tourist areas here and you are at this restaurant with local people - which can be a very good thing.

We parked and went inside to find a Golden Corral with what I am going to describe as a "normal" Golden Corral layout. The dining rooms across one side of the restaurant and the buffet server in one long row spread out across the rear wall of the restaurant. We paid and seated ourselves. At Golden Corral you pay as you enter and you order your drink at the cashier who then gives you the drink to take to your table. Refills are done by your server.

The restaurant was large and the tables were nicely spaced - typical of most Golden Corrals with the exception of the Williamsburg location.We seated ourselves and went right up to the buffet. As I said, this is the typical Golden Corral buffet layout. The buffet spreads across the entire rear wall of the restaurant in one long line of serving areas. The salad bar starts at one end and the hot foods then carry along. Here - unlike Williamsburg - there was a Chinese station with four serving trays of Chinese food. The hot buffet continues along with a bump out for the grill and here the grill is out enough in the open that there is plenty of room to be able to wait for your steak to be cooked as you like it without holding up others who want their steak differently. The hot buffet continues around and along with the bakery next - a selection of hot breads and rolls - and then this connects to the dessert section with its broad variety.

Here there were no bottlenecks. There was no confusion. There was no waiting on lines just to get up to a serving tray of food.

The buffet also still had the seafood saute, but here it did not interfere with any other part of the buffet - including the grill which it is located next to. There were a few people getting that - and this does involve a wait on line because each person's dish is cooked to order and they can do one or two at the most at one time.

This Golden Corral also had the Tropical Grill feature - and just to see if it would be any different than my taste at Williamsburg, I took a very little bit to try. I did not like it here any more than I did there. I know that by now this feature is gone - as a new one has been announced -but if you did not like spicy or sweet, this was not for you (or me).

I just mentioned a new feature and that feature may have been getting its start in both of these Virginia Golden Corrals - though had I just gone to Williamsburg and not Newport News, I would not have realized that now. The new feature is Carvers - various meats being carved including a whole turkey. In Williamsburg, there had been the remains of what had been a whole turkey. What was left - and what had not been replaced with another turkey, was the carcass of a turkey with some remaining shreds of meat on the side. In Newport News there was almost a whole turkey to be carved - obviously recently brought out. They could have done a better job of having someone there to carve it but all it really took was getting someone's attention that was behind this counter near the grill and ask for a piece, and you would get a slice or a part like a drumstick if you asked for it. This seems to be what the new feature is all about - and if I can get to another Golden Corral before this feature ends, I will let you all know more about it.

I have to also mention that they had some really good ribs here. There were no ribs at the Williamsburg location. These were tasty and close to fall off the bone ribs. Also, like at another buffet that I wrote about in Virginia recently, there was baked spaghetti on the buffet here. I had said this about this dish at the other buffet - this must be something local because I have never seen it anywhere other than in these Virginia buffets. Baked Spaghetti is like  baked lasagna using spaghetti. It is spaghetti mixed with tomato sauce and mixed with cheese and then covered with cheese and baked. It is actually quite tasty.

We had a very enjoyable and relaxed meal here. Service was good on this first night - it had been marginally fair in Williamsburg. I am not going to talk about price as prices seem to vary by area. It can be $9.99 and it can be $10.99. I do not believe it can be higher than that - price is something that Golden Corral advertises about. The soft drinks with refills are additional and this was a bit high  for sodas - $2.09 per person.

We wound up making the trip a second time to Newport News to go to this Golden Corral again during this trip. I might have made a better choice than I did of tables as this server was just OK - and she wound up leaving during the middle of our meal - and her replacement was much better. And while she was still our server I could see other servers really hustling around doing their jobs and she was very casual about it spending more time on her cell phone hiding near the soda machine than working her tables. Her replacement was a pleasure.

We would have gone back a third time, but as I said in Part I, there was a storm that badly flooded Newport News that day, and we were not going to chance going into that.

Our next trip to Williamsburg - and we go there often - we will be making the drive to Newport News when we want to dine at Golden Corral. If you are in this area or going to this area, I suggest that you do the same!

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Tale Of Two Golden Corrals - Virginia PART I

We were in Williamsburg, Virginia and we decided to go back to a Golden Corral that we know has problems. Why were we going back? Because we were in this area for ten days and wanted to eat in buffets - as we usually prefer to do. 

The Golden Corral in Williamsburg, Virginia has a problem in design. The hot serving section of the buffet forms a closed U and this U is surrounded on all sides. On one side there is a half wall just a few feet from the buffet counter that separates the cashier and entrance from the buffet. On the end of the U, where the grill is, there is the salad bar island just a few feet away. On the other side of the buffet is another half wall about six feet away from the buffet counter that separates the buffet from part of the dining room. What should be the open end of the U is accessed by kitchen and cooking staff and the inside of the U is for employees to refill serving trays and access the grill at the end. Get the picture? This is not the standard "new" Golden Corral layout. In most Golden Corral's the serving counters make one long and almost continuous line with plenty of room surrounding them to walk up. Here because the serving counters are boxed in, people form lines and these lines complicate the problem because you could wait a very long time just to go up and get some more mashed potatoes, or whatever.

If you go here on a Saturday night or you go here during the week during tourist season, the restaurant may not seem crowded, but there is a mob of people at the hot buffet counters. And with some waiting for steaks to be cooked to order and some waiting on another line for the seafood saute - yes, this is still around - it is just ridiculous to get anything onto your plate.

I have to admit that we went twice - and I will explain the second time as we go along in this tale. The first night was mid-week. It seemed to me that it should not be too bad. It was. Not the food, but managing the crowds at the counters of the hot buffet. I found myself waiting on a line just to see what was on the buffet on one side. After more than ten minutes and no where near to the food, I got off the line and just walked along the people on line - just to look. There was nothing there that I was interested in taking. I headed around the the other side. Because the dining room side is not as close to the dividing wall, I was able to walk around close enough to see what was there - and despite some people's need to have to create a cafeteria-like line, I just walked up to the trays that I wanted something from. (Buffets are not cafeterias - there are no lines - walk up to a tray, take what you want, and walk away to another spot.)  One poor teen was so confused by the lines, that when I was just passing this area and he asked my permission to go over to the end and get something off a tray that no one was near. I looked at him and just said. "Of course!" I guess he figured he could blame me if the crowd attacked him. :)  He was fine...

With all of the confusion here, the seafood saute station and the steak grill cause even more problems because here there are legitimately two lines - one going in one direction toward the seafood saute and the other going toward the steak. All of this with the salad bar right against it. And the two lines converge into one as you get further to the back - and no one really knows what line is which.  Well, I got on the end of the line that finally separated toward the steak grill. Twenty minutes later I saw what the problem was. The steak chef would ask the three people at his end of the line what they wanted. They would say for instance "well done", "medium well", and "well done". OK, but he only had steaks that were rare and medium rare, and medium. Instead of calling over to the next several in line to see who would like steaks cooked that way, he would just wait until he had steaks cooked to those three at the front. Now. when you get up to him and want rare, medium rare, or medium, he is putting raw steaks on and cooking those to the doneness of those three. Do you see the problem? I have seen at other Golden Corrals that the chef will tell the people who want a more done steak than what is there at the moment to just step aside and he will take the next few to give the steaks he has - and cuts pieces of steak for those who are waiting to keep cooking. Here, there really is no place to wait to do this - the people waiting would be backed into the line coming around the cashier side of the hot buffet. But he could have taken some people that were right there looking for less done steaks. When I got up finally and asked for rare, he had to start a new raw steak on the grill. I had come that far, but my wife who was back at the table waiting for me, was not happy.

The sad thing is that the food is good. It is pretty much the same as any other Golden Corral. The salad bar has less on it than other Golden Corrals.

We were there in August when the current feature was Tropical Island Grill which I had an article about in August, but had not tried it yet. I believe it is past now, and you did not miss much. Everything was either too spicy or overly sweet. I tried a few of things from this - the teriyaki steak, the key west chicken, and the talapia and I have to say they were terrible. I only took a very small taste of each and did not finish any of it - even the less than a forkfull that I took.

They also had the new Cotton Candy feature and this was served off the dessert bar and unlike the chocolate fountain, which is still there, it is not a do it yourself item. There is someone behind the counter making up the paper cones of cotton candy and either handing them to you directly or placing them in a serving tray.  Cotton candy is a sticky thing and if a small child rubs against you with it - which happens, you will get full of sugar. It was a big hit with the kids - and considering all of the pitfalls of the chocolate fountain, cotton candy was a much better addition.

We left very unhappy and determined to find another Golden Corral that is not too far from Williamsburg. The closest one is in Newport News which is about twenty miles further east on the peninsula and if it was better than this one, the distance was OK with us. I will tell you more about that Golden Corral in Part II of this article which will appear next week.

Oh yes, we did go back to the Williamsburg Golden Corral before we left the area. There was a major storm that came through and Newport News was flooded with cars up to their windshields in water. We decided not to chance going there for dinner so we went back to the Williamsburg Golden Corral. (We had been to the various other buffets - primarily Asian buffets just too often that week.) Well, on that second visit there were the same problems. There were less people but the lines, the problems, were all still there.

End of Part I.

Part II next week.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Return to Wood Grill Buffet, Charlottesville, Virginia

It has been six years since I have been to the Wood Grill Buffet in Charlottesville, Virginia. The only reason for this long absence is my schedule when I travel. This is one of my favorite buffets and has been since we first found it many years ago when it was in a different location.  Wood Grill Buffet is still part of the Western Sizzln' chain but appears to be run as a separate entity with only four locations - all in Virginia. There are locations in Harrisonburg, Norwalk, Hesperia, and this one in Charlottesville.

The layout is just as it was when I described it six years ago, so I am not going to repeat that here. You can read the link above to get an impression what the buffet looks like. The decor is western and pleasant. We returned this August and were there on a weeknight. There was a small group at the door coming in before us but we really had no wait. The restaurant inside was crowded. We were taken to our table and our server actually took some time to come over to our table and take our drink orders. I will put that up to the crowded dining room. The price of the buffet is now $10.59 for dinner Monday to Thursday and $10.99 for dinner Friday to Sunday. There is a $1.00 discount for seniors. Soft drinks with refills are $2.09 for adults and $1.39 for children up to age 12. The children's price is based on age and they charge $0.60 per year of age from age 4 to 12. Over 12 pays adult price. Soda price is a bit high compared to most similar buffets, but only by a dime. Compared to other chain American food buffets, the value here is exception for what the buffet offers.

We started as usual with soup. There were two soups and they are located on the counter that sits directly in front of the grill. The soups this night were Chicken Gumbo and New England Clam Chowder. Both soups are soups that my picky eater wife does not care for so she went on to the extensive salad bar and I took the Chicken Gumbo. The soup was hot, good and tasty though it was slightly spicy. If you only know Chicken Gumbo from Campbell's in a can the taste is similar but there is more heat in the real thing.

The salad bar is split between two cold servers at opposite sides of the buffet area. One has a variety of lettuce and greens and a lot of toppings and dressing. There were also cold meats to add to your salad. There was also everything you would want to make a Caesar salad. On the other there was a variety of prepared salads including the usual potato salad with large pieces of potato, macaroni salad, pasta salad, and coleslaw, but there was more. There were deviled eggs, chicken salad with large chunks of chicken, tuna salad, cucumber salad, and three bean salad among others. There was also a crab salad with real crab (not the fake stuff). The chicken salad was very good and I could not resist the crab salad. There was so much more to come, but it would have been easy to stay with the salad bar.

The hot entrees and side dishes are extensive and they are served both from hot buffet servers and from the counter that is in front of the grill which takes up just about all of the back wall. There are chefs cooking on the grill and continually replenishing the serving trays on the counter. This buffet serves steak and while it is not cooked to order, it is cooked in various stages of doneness and  placed out on a hot tray on the counter. There is rare, medium, and well done for the taking. In my last review six years ago I had found the steak that I took to be dry - but not this time. The steak was nicely medium rare, juicy, and tasty. At another end of the grill counter there is a taco and burrito bar with soft flour tortillas, fried corn tortillas, nacho chips, and all of the makings for tacos and burritos. Next to the steak were ribs- real, fall off the bone, barbecue ribs. These were excellent and close to what I had at a smoker pit barbecue non-buffet place several nights later in another part of Virginia. They were moist and properly sauced.

There was so much on the hot servers and at the counter I will just list what there was for you. There were in addition to what I have already told you about - meatballs, riblets, fried chicken (very good fried chicken and better and more Southern than any other chain buffet), pot roast, ham, roast beef, hot dogs, chicken teriyaki, fried shrimp, fried fish, grilled chicken pieces, grilled chicken breasts off the grill, two types of wings, chicken livers, meatloaf, cheeseburgers, crab cakes, lasagna, baked spaghetti and cheese (something local to Virginia perhaps because we encountered this in other buffets) and pizza that was at the bakery counter.

There was a multitude of side dishes as well. These included mashed potatoes, kernel corn, corn on the cob, Lima beans with ham, wild rice, white rice, sauteed green beans, mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, turnip greens with ham and onions, green beans with bacon, onion rings, fries, hot carrots, fried apples (so good!), fried green tomatoes, macaroni and cheese, cabbage, broccoli casserole, potato casserole, broccoli, and sweet potato souffle.There was also a baked and sweet potato bar with toppings.

You are in the South and a lot of what is on this buffet is southern cooking with dishes that you will rarely see anywhere but the South. Yes, fried green tomatoes is not just the name of a book and a movie made from the book. You can eat them here.

I tried little bits of things and took more of what I know that I enjoy and I was stuffed at the end of the meal. Everything that I tried was good with one exception. The pizza looked good but it had been sitting too long and the crust had dried out and I ate only a taste. The steak was good and better than many. The ribs, as I have said, were exceptional. There was no pork barbecue as there had been six years ago but that may appear on another night. Selections do change from night to night at some buffets. My wife was just as happy with her plainer selections. There was more than enough to please most.

There is a large bakery counter which is a large half circle with bakers inside replenishing desserts, bread, and pizza. There were several breads including corn muffins, large rolls, and cheese rolls. I know that many of my readers want to hear about the dessert selection and they have a very good selection of sweets. There was fresh pineapple, fresh oranges, melon, and fresh grapes, and mandarin oranges over on the cold buffet server. There was carrot cake, several types of cream pies, chocolate cake cupcakes with vanilla icing and yellow cake cupcakes with chocolate icing, a variety of cookies,coconut cake, banana pudding, strawberry shortcake, pecan pie, Oreo pie, apple pie, pumpkin pie (in August!), lemon meringue pie, and three different cobblers including blackberry. There was soft serve ice cream and a sundae bar with ice cream toppings, There was also a chocolate fountain right in the middle of the bakery counter within view of the people working behind the counter. I will not get into my feelings about chocolate fountains at buffets again, but this one was subject to the same problems as all of them are.

I am getting hungry and wanting to go back again just writing about all of this.

Service was OK - she could have paid a little more attention to our table, but it was not bad.

I want to talk about the people eating here. I have been to many buffets as you know and all types of people come to eat at buffets. It has been primarily in New York, however, that I have seen the most immensely large people eating at buffets. What surprised me here - and different from other buffets that I have been to an went to recently in Virginia - that there were a good number of immensely large people eating here. No problem - everyone is welcome everywhere and I don't care who is sitting at the table next to me, but it just struck me as interesting here seeing this. I only share it because it is interesting.

Well, I am sorry that it took me six years to get back here and I will be sure to schedule more time in this area when I return so that I am in Charlottesville at dinner time. They are open on weekends to 11:30 pm. I recommend this buffet. Go there! There is a lot to see and do in this city including the University of Virginia and you can eat at this great buffet!

The Wood Grill Buffet in Charlottesville is located at 576 Branch Lands Boulevard, Charlottesville, VA 22901 and their phone number is (434) 975-5613. They now have a website and that is linked at the side of this page in our listing of buffet links.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Prime Buffet, Williamsburg, Virginia

In September 2011, I wrote about a Chinese buffet in Williamsburg, Virginia called Rainbow Buffet. We were in Williamsburg this August and we went to have dinner at Rainbow Buffet and discovered a new name on the front of the restaurant- Prime Buffet. Looking in through the window, everything looked exactly the same. We went in for dinner. We actually went to this buffet twice in one week and my article will reflect both visits.

I am not certain that this buffet is not run by the same people who ran Rainbow Buffet and have just changed the name. There are some differences and the price has been lowered. That is correct - the price at Rainbow Buffet for dinner was $9.50 which is extremely good. The price at Prime - all nights for dinner is $7.99! Unlimited soda is an additional $1.89. This is an exceptionally good price considering what you are getting at this buffet. In the local tourist give away magazines found at all of the hotels and gift shops, the advertisement for this buffet includes a coupon - 10% off! Imagine $7.99 to start with and then 10% off!  There is also a local app for your smartphone with restauant coupons and Prime is included on that app - all you do is show them the ad on your smartphone display at the cashier and get your 10% off.

I will tell you up front that gone are the snow crab legs (which were an additional $5.00). There are no crab legs. There is however a great deal to eat at this buffet.

Let's start with soup - there were the three basic Chinese restaurant soups - Wonton, Egg Drop, and Hot and Sour. I tried the egg drop and my wife had the wonton. She felt that the wontons were seasoned on the spicy side. The egg drop soup was standard with large pieces of egg in a semi-thick soup. The egg drop soup was good.

There is a salad bar but frankly most people skip the salad bar at a Chinese buffets and we did. It was the standard greens, toppings, and dressings. It all looked fresh and crisp.

There is a sushi bar and there was a man behind the sushi bar making sushi to put out. The selection was small and was mostly varieties of vegetable sushi. There were some tuna and salmon rolls with small pieces of fish in them. The sushi was fine, the selection was limited.

I am going to list the dishes that we found on one night and then tell you the different dishes that were there when we went back. Since going I have read internet reviews that criticize this buffet for having a limited selection. You judge that for yourself from this list. On the buffet were pan fried dumplings, steamed peach buns (they look like peaches - these are steamed dough with a sweet filling), fried cheese wontons, steamed founder, stuffed shrimp, egg rolls, wings, steamed small clams in the open shells, seafood delight served in a shell, sauteed mushrooms, vegetable mei fun (thin rice noodles with vegetables), American macaroni and cheese, fried crab cakes, shrimp with onions, peas, and carrots, tofu in a sweet sauce, cut up barbecue chicken pieces, chicken on a stick with teriyaki sauce, ground meat taco (this looked to me like pizza, but was labeled as a taco which was cut into wedges), Krab (not crab but the fish substitute that is common in almost every Chinese buffet that I go to), fried frogs legs, fried scallops, fried shrimp, chicken and broccoli, curry chicken, "vegetable delight", brown rice, white rice, fried rice, lo mien, honey chicken, pepper chicken, General Tso chicken, beef and broccoli, chicken in garlic sauce, beef in garlic sauce, barbecue spare ribs (the type in sweet red sauce), Mongolian pork, sesame balls, rib tips, fried potatoes with onions, sweet and sour chicken, half baked potatoes with cheese, Chinese green vegetable, yam slices, garlic bread, AND peel and eat shrimp. On the second night there was coconut ham, steamed crayfish, corn nuggets, chicken nuggets, and corn on the cob taking the place of five of the items that were there on the first night. Other than that everything on the second night was the same on the main buffet servers.

Now, if all of that is not enough, there was also an hibachi grill. This was a large counter grill next to the sushi bar, both of which took up a wall at the rear of the buffet area. The food for you to select for the grill was one of the cold buffet servers that was next to the grill. There was no one at the grill but there was a bell to ring. The kitchen door was next to the grill and there was no problem on either night for someone to come right away. The items to select for the grill were raw beef, raw chicken, raw pork, and fish. There were noodles to add to this along with vegetables like bean sprouts, onions, mushrooms, etc. There were two sauces to choose - garlic sauce and teriyaki sauce. I had the hibachi grill on both nights. The first night, the man at the sushi bar came over to cook for me. I had picked chicken and a variety of vegetables. I did not want garlic sauce or teriyaki sauce and I asked him to just put soy sauce on it while he cooked it. This was no problem for him. He cooked it and placed it on a plate and handed it to me and it was good. On the second night, a woman came out from the kitchen to cook for me. She was very pleasant and took my dish of the same things that I had chosen on the first night. I asked her for just soy sauce and this seemed to confuse her. I am not certain that there was a problem understanding English. That is fine - I would rather a real Chinese chef than someone who is not Chinese cooking at the Chinese hibachi grill. I tried to help her to understand but it was not getting very far - there were, after all two sauces on the sign - garlic sauce and teriyaki sauce. She was pleasant throughout. I just said, I will have it plain. This caused her concern - in a nice way. She understood this - she could not understand how I could eat it plain off the grill. She had to be a mom because that is how she reacted and kept asking me if I was sure. I said yes and tried my best to explain that I cannot eat the sweet teriyaki sauce and I don't care for garlic sauce. She seemed to understand that and proceeded to cook my grill plain. It too was good and I added my own soy sauce at the table. It really was not a problem. Sometimes you should just not stray from the menu.

There was an assortment of desserts - nothing elaborate, but more than adequate. There was fresh fruit, pudding and prepared desserts, tarts, home baked almond cookies, fried donuts, and hot apple pie served from a hot tray in the hot buffet server. There was also hand-dipped Hershey ice cream. On the second night there were also bananas in sweet red sauce.

The food was good. It was not the best Chinese buffet food that I have had, but it was cooked properly, well tended on the buffet - nothing was dried out, and it tasted good. It was no different in quality from most of the other Chinese buffets that I have been to all over. Food that needed replacing was replaced. If it had not been good we would not have gone back a second time!

The servers were pleasant and the plates from the table were removed promptly. Sodas were refilled, though on the second night, the table next to us with a rather unusual and large crowd kept the server so busy that at one point I did have to wait until she was finished making them happy before she could get back to us. She was not to blame.

One of the things that I look for in an ethnic restaurant and especially an ethnic buffet is to see if people of that culture and background are eating there. On both nights there were several tables of Asian people eating.

We almost went back a third time. We decided to give another buffet that we were uncertain about a try - which I will write about in another article.

If you are in this area and you want to eat very inexpensively in a decent Chinese buffet with a lot of choices, then try Prime Buffet. Prime Buffet is located at 3044 Richmond Road (Patriot Plaza), Williamsburg, Virginia 23185. The phone number is 757-220-1666 . There is no working website.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ryan's Buffet - Fredericksburg, Virginia

I wrote in the Spring about a Ryan's that we were at in Hagerstown, Maryland. That Ryan's had made a significant change since I had been there previously (before the takeover by Buffets Inc.) to become much more an Old Country Buffet with little left from its former Ryan's identity.

In August we returned to a Ryan's that we have been to probably more than any other Ryan's. This is the Ryan's Buffet in Fredericksburg, Virginia. This Ryan's also has become much more like Old Country Buffet, but it has retained many of the things that made the original Ryan's chain the best of the buffet chains. For those reading who are not aware, several years ago the parent company of Old Country Buffet bought out the Ryan's chain and quickly thereafter started to close Ryan's restaurants in mass - in the usual way that Buffets, Inc. does business - they arrive in the morning as the doors are opening for business for the day and announce to everyone, including the management - that this restaurant is closed and you do not have a job anymore - go home. The company then started to make those remaining Ryan's restaurants into clones of Old Country Buffet restaurants and, rather than taking the best of Ryan's and introducing that to OCBs, they took the worst of OCBs and introduced that into the Ryan's restaurants. Some Ryan's have managed to still maintain what made them good - and the Ryan's in Fredericksburg, VA is one of those.

One major difference from OCB, and what was always good at Ryan's, is the salad bar. In Fredericksburg they still have the large salad bar with its extensive selection that Ryan's was known for. Here there is a make-your-own Caesar salad with all everything there for you to put together and the salad dressing at the side for you to add to your liking. This is not the pre-made Caesar salad that is found at OCB, and the dressing here is much better. The seafood salad was very different from that at OCB as well. While it was not using real crab meat but what is called "Krab" meat, it was using large chunks of that made into a salad and not the shredded "seafood" and macaroni salad found at OCB. There were also three types of lettuce to choose from and (perhaps because of the location) there was nothing spilled from one serving tray to the next.

On the hot buffet server there were many more selections than you find at OCB. There were large pieces of smoked sausage that were not served in the sweet sauce that OCB puts smoked sausage in. There were whole sides of catfish - not the little chunks that are served at OCB. Many of the dishes that Ryan's was known for were still on the buffet. I recently wrote about the Mandarin Stir Fry that Buffets, Inc. introduced this year. This was here at the grill area and took up the griddle next to the char-flame grill. I actually did see one person walk up and have it, but as I have said this is not very popular at any OCB or Ryan's that I have been in that have it. This was the only time that I have seen anyone have it. (This opposed to Golden Corral where there are still lines after a year and a half for their seafood stir fry.)

Now, the steaks! The steaks here are made on a char-flame grill and they are made to order - if they already do not have a steak that is cooked to your request. And what is given to you is a significantly sized piece of steak and not a small two inch chunk as is often served to you at OCB. More than once, I have been to this particular Ryan's, where a rare steak was not there when I asked, and the grill chef put one on just for me and then came to my table with the steak or call me over to get it when it was ready. So different from any other buffet! And I must say, this is something particular to the very good employees at this particular Ryan's. They actually seem happy to be working. The steaks are being seasoned to Buffet's Inc.'s idea of steak seasoning which contains way too much pepper, but they are cooked on the grill properly and much of this seasoning can be scraped off. I smile when I eat the steak here. I can't say that often.

Now, over to the dessert section. You know the little squares of sheet cake that you find at Old Country Buffet. How would you like a large wedge of a round, double-layer, chocolate cake? Well, that is exactly what was being served here. It looked great and was so tempting!

Well, I have to say that this is the best Ryan's we have ever been to and my picky eater wife agrees. When coming to this area, I always check before to make sure that this Ryan's has not fallen victim to Buffets, Inc.'s axe, because they have no idea what a good thing is. If you are near Fredericksburg, Virginia - and there is a lot of history to be found there, as well as a huge shopping center which this Ryan's is located at - try this Ryan's.

This Ryan's Buffet is located in the Central Park Shopping Center/Complex off of I-95 in Fredericksburg, VA. Its address is 1780 Carl D Silver Parkway, Fredericksburg, VA 22401 and the phone number is (540) 548-0051. There is a link at the side of this page to Ryan's chain webpage.Link

Friday, September 21, 2012

Old Country Buffet, Alexandria, Virginia

I have not been to an Old Country Buffet in another state for quite some time. We were in Virginia and decided to try the OCB there outside of the city of Alexandria on a Sunday night. We frequently eat at OCB locally on Sunday night so I knew I would have a good night for comparison.

Locally, the OCB is generally crowded on a Sunday evening - around 6:30 pm. In fact, we tend to arrive later after 7:00 pm to avoid the crowds. This was not so in this Old Country Buffet. There were people inside having dinner but it was relatively empty. The menu offerings at Old Country Buffet are set from night to night. On Sundays there will be carvings of turkey, ham, and roast beef. With the recent addition of steak every night, there is also steak. I will not go into the side dishes but everything that is at our local OCB on a Sunday was there in Alexandria.

This Old Country Buffet did have the "skillet" special, that OCB sent an email to its email list customers about several months back saying that it would be at many OCBs. The two OCBs near me do not have it. The skillet feature is a copy of the skillet seafood special at Golden Corral. I have seen it before at two Ryans and the interesting thing is that no one dining there was having it. No one here was having either. The Ryan's are set up for it as they have a permanent grill area. In this OCB there were two hot plates at the end of a counter. You can select beef or chicken, add noodles or rice, and add a sauce. The way it was set up, the skillet chef did all this for you, and then cooks it in front of you. The sauce selections were sweet or spicy.

So, how did this Old Country Buffet compare to the local Old Country Buffet that I eat at in New York. For one thing there was a very different employee attitude in Virginia. It was far more positive and friendly. There is generally a more positive employee attitude in many places outside of New York. The people working did not come across as if you are intruding upon their time. Another difference was that the seasoning of the food in the Virginia OCB was less salty and less over peppered with black pepper.

A number of years ago, when char-grilled items were introduced on the menu at OCB, I was told that some OCB's would have grills in the dining area at the buffet section and cooked steak to order as Ryan's and Golden Corral do. I was also told when I inquired where, that this Alexandria OCB was one. It is not. They were bringing the steak out from the kitchen already cooked as they do here. But here is a difference. I went up for a piece of steak. There was one piece out on the cutting board and when I asked for steak the carver said to me, "Let me go into the kitchen and get more steak. This piece is all fat and grizzle." He went into the kitchen and came out with several steaks, discarded the piece that has been on the board and I asked him for steak on the rare side. "Of course", was the reply and he carved one of the less well done steaks. He also cut off for me a piece that was almost half the steak - not the two inches that I get at the OCB at home. At home this would have gone down with me or whoever had gone up at that moment being given that inedible piece of steak.

I also saw that the salad bar was much larger in the Alexandria OCB with more things on it and also the taco bar had much more on it, including fajita chicken which has not been at the OCB near me in a few years.

This all may be what you are used to when you go to OCB. It is not for me in New York where there are two OCBs and they both are not at all like this OCB in Virginia. The dinner price was less, as well. Dinner was $10.99.

I do have to note that the men's room was in exactly the same condition as the one's at home. Why is it that when you step up to a urinal at an OCB men's room you are standing in a puddle of piss? The rest rooms have a sign on them that they are checked regularly. Is the puddle acceptable in the inspection?

If you are looking for an Old Country Buffet and you are near Alexandria, Virginia - perhaps having just visited Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington which is near by- then try this OCB. It is nice - as OCB's go.

This Old Country Buffet is located at 7820 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, VA 22306. The phone number is (703) 619-9557. The general Old Country Buffet chain website is listed at the side of this page.

Friday, September 14, 2012

KFC Buffet, Williamsburg, VA

Yes - KFC - Kentucky Fried Chicken - Buffet. This is something that KFC does not make well known. There is nothing on their website that some of the KFC locations have a buffet in addition to their usual take out or take from the counter and sit down menu. I have only seen a few of these and the ones that I have seen have all been in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. I have seen comments through various searches from people who have gone to a KFC buffet, but there is little to no information out there. Right away, you should know that this is an All You Care to Eat Buffet.

There is a KFC Buffet in Williamsburg, Virginia. We were recently in the area and we had a number of nights to try buffets and we decided that we would see what the KFC buffet is all about and how it is. We went for dinner, and in this location it was only available at dinner hours and not all night. The sign here said 4 to 8 pm for the buffet. The restaurant was open much later.

We walked into a usual looking KFC. There was a counter in the front with people behind taking orders and a line of people waiting to give their food orders. One end of the front counter were two small buffet servers. One had hot foods and one had cold foods. You go up to the counter with everyone else and order the buffet. It includes your drink, which is unlimited from the soda machine that is there in the dining room. There is no special area to sit for the buffet. You are sitting in the regular KFC dining area. The price for the buffet is $7.99. And as I just said this includes your beverage. The price is the same for children.

When we got to the counter we ordered two buffets and were each handed one foam, divided plate, a small foam bowl, and a soda cup. Plasticware is out on the condiments counter with napkins and straws. You are given ONE plate. You are to go back up to the counter and ask for additional plates when you are going back up to the buffet for more. The only drawback to this is if there is a line of customers, you are waiting on that line - if you are going to be civil and polite - to ask the person behind the counter for another plate. There was no problem getting as many plates as we needed.

The food in the two buffet servers is a selection from the KFC menu. IF YOU DON'T LIKE KFC FOOD THEN YOU ARE NOT GOING TO LIKE THE KFC BUFFET. No need to comment here that you don't like it. It is just not for you - your choice. The food is KFC food - nothing more and nothing less.

As I understand it from comments that I found through internet search, what is being put out from the KFC menu varies. I will tell you about what there was on this night. I do not know if it changes from night to night.

On the hot server there was Original Recipe fried chicken, Extra Crispy fried chicken, chicken with biscuits which was a variation of chicken pot pie with biscuits on the side instead of a pie crust, mashed potatoes, gravy, kernel corn, green beans, black eyed peas, cooked carrots, and stewed tomatoes. That was all there was on the hot server. On the warm/cold server there was a mixture of prepared salad and dessert items. These were pickles, coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni salad, peppers, pea salad, cottage cheese, jello, fruit crisp, pudding, frosted buns, canned peaches, and banana whipped chiffon. The fried chicken was a variety of all of the different parts - breasts, legs, thighs, and wings. All on the bone.

I have heard that people have had the KFC grilled chicken on the buffet, and I have also read that a make a salad was at one location. I don't think that there are any more items at any other location but there certainly could be different selections from the menu than what I have listed.

I have not had KFC in a very long time. In fact, the last time I had it, it was still called Kentucky Fried Chicken on the sign outside and not "KFC". I have always liked it and after this meal, I found that I still do. Now, my picky eater wife - you all know about her - she does not really like fried chicken. She does like chicken and grilled chicken and she came in with the intention of just pealing the fried coating off the chicken meat. She was happy to see the chicken and biscuits and she mostly ate that and was fine with it.

The food was as I remembered KFC and good. I tried the two different types of chicken and the chicken with biscuits (but I did not take any biscuits). The chicken with biscuits was good size pieces of chicken meat in a light gravy with peas, carrots, and potatoes. It was a good chicken stew. I did find the Extra Crispy better than the Original Recipe chicken. The Original Recipe Chicken seemed to me to be a bit over cooked - at least the color was darker than the light tan that I remembered it to be - but this was so long ago. I tried the vegetables and the mashed potatoes and gravy. It was all as I anticipated it would be and I enjoyed it. Again - if you don't like KFC, this is no different than what they are serving over the counter or in the bucket to take home.

There is no service at your table - obviously. When you finish a plate, you throw it away yourself in the trash bins all around the restaurant. As, I said, new plates are at the counter for the asking. You fill your own soda cup at the machine. When you are done, you throw away everything that is on your table.

The service at the counter was very good and the people that were filling the buffet from behind them - accessing directly into the food prep and kitchen area - were doing a very good job at keeping the trays full and fresh. There was nothing that looked dried out or that needed attention.

The restaurant itself was clean and we were there for dinner in August in a tourist area where it had to have been a busy day. There were several tables other than ours having the buffet.

I do not think that there would be any problem ordering the buffet for one or some and not for everyone that you are with. BUT - I am sure that they will spot you handing food over to anyone who has not purchased the buffet, so don't try it! These are very open dining areas and are in full view of the employees who are behind the counter and around the dining area keeping it clean.

Do I recommend the KFC Buffet? If you like KFC food and can eat more than a couple of pieces of fried chicken, then yes. I plan to go back the next time I am South in this area. If you are a small eater, then just order from the menu - but I suspect it will not be quiet as economical as the buffet. There was a good meal here for a total of $7.99 and tax.

This KFC Buffet is located at 1545 Richmond Road, Williamsburg, VA 23185. Their phone number is(757) 229 - 7212. There is no mention of the buffets on the KFC website so I will not post a link to that on the side. And the locations are NOT identified as having buffets when they do.