Friday, May 04, 2012


Shady Maple Smorgasbord,located in East Earl, PA is in the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country where the Amish live. Shady Maple, as our regular readers know, has been named Best Buffet of the Year for a number of years. This is a popular tourist destination and Shady Maple while a bit of a distance from where many of the attractions in this area are located, during the tourist season gets busy during the summer months and in the Fall following December. After December things slow down in this area and at Shady Maple. Some of the buffet restaurants have shorter hours. Shady Maple maintains its regular hours. To attract the locals it offers special weekend features on the buffet. Around April, Shady Maple returns to its usual menu.

I was just at Shady Maple at the end of April - there were no special features but the mid-week, Wednesday night buffet was featuring a number of Amish dishes that would mostly appeal to the local people who have grown up with them. This seems to be how Shady Maple transitions as it approaches the tourist season.

I will take the opportunity here to tell you that the Shady Maple website has a new look. Personally, I prefer the old look. This look is perhaps a little easier to navigate.

There has been one change at Shady Maple that I may have told you about. One of the minor things that has made Shady Maple unique is that it served both Coke and Pepsi. For some reason, and this reason may be pressure from one of these companies, Shady Maple only serves Pepsi products now. This is a bit of a disappointment - one which upsets my wife more than it upsets me, as I enjoy Shady Maple's brewed ice tea instead of soda with my meal.

At most buffets we start our meal with soup, but at Shady Maple we start our meal with salad. This is a throw back to the original Shady Maple building where the salad bar came first in the long, cafeteria type line that the original location had. There was something new on the salad bar. The sign said "Caesar Salad". They have had romaine lettuce before, but not Caesar dressing. This was a prepared Caesar Salad. I took some - and when I ate it I was surprised to find that it did not taste at all like Caesar Salad. It was much more like Cobb Salad. The dressing was a ranch type dressing. There was pieces of egg, chunks of real bacon, and cheese in the salad. These are all of the makings of a Cobb Salad. Later I checked at the other salad bar and it was there too - labeled the same, and exactly the same as what I had taken. This was a big surprise. Surely, Shady Maple knows the difference between Caesar Salad and Cobb Salad.

The feature on Wednesday nights is Prime Rib. This is served at the grill stations and there are several Prime Ribs that they are carving from - each cooked to a different wellness. Yes, they had rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, and well done! They are carving full sized restaurant portions so if you want to have room for everything else that is good, you want to ask for a small slice. The Prime Rib was excellent. There is horseradish at the counter for those who enjoy that with their Prime Rib.

When I looked around the buffet servers - and remember - from what I have told you before - there are two sides of buffet servers and while SOME foods are the same on both sides there are a number of different foods on each side. Any way - when I looked around I found several local Amish dishes - Chicken Bot Boi, Snitz and Knepp, and Pig Stomach (around here called Souse0. I love all three. Before you say, how disgusting to eat pig stomach, don't knock it until you have tried it. Here it is prepared to look like a stuffing - which mostly it is. The pig stomach is cooked stuffed with potatoes, bread chunks, and pork sausage cut up. When done, all of that is chopped up so you never really see the pig stomach - it is just meat mixed in. The taste is pork - no different.

Snitz and Knepp is a mixture of stewed dumplings and apples. It is thick, gooey, and sweet. It is a side dish that you could eat for dessert. Delicious!

Chicken Bot Boi I have talked about before and it is a favorite of many of my readers who have come to the Amish area in Pennsylvania. It is stewed chicken with thick dumpling noodles, carrots, potatoes, and celery. The broth is cooked to be thick. It is also delicious and Shady Maple makes it right!

These are not dishes that you are likely to find here in June, July or August when the tourists are here.

I am not going to go into all of the other foods that were served. They were typical of other Shady Maple menus that I have written about. Desserts were out in their typical glory here. There was a chocolate layer cake with cherries on top that looked wonderful. There were a variety of cheesecakes. The sugar-free pies - and there is no artificial sweetener used in these pies, just fruit juice - were strawberry rhubarb and French apple.

There has been a change in table staff and I observed this last summer - and it had changed back again in the Fall. There are a number of servers who are Russian or Ukrainian women who maybe here on an exchange program. I have observed similar some businesses in Virginia during the summer. Our server was one of these women. She was just OK - she could have been better at getting plates off the table quicker - something that is not usually a problem at Shady Maple.

I enjoyed the meal - as always. And I recommend that if you have not been to Shady Maple and you are in this area it is a must go to.

Shady Maple Smorgasbord is located at 129 Toddy Drive in East Earl, PA. Take Route 23 East or Route 322 South to get to the restaurant. The phone numbers are 1-800-238-7363 and 717-354-8222. There is a website and it is listed at the side of this page.

1 comment:

ML said...

Still the One and Only!!