Friday, June 22, 2012

Return to Yoders, New Holland, Pennsylvania

When I am asked what the second best buffet is, I think Yoders. It has been a while since I have been to Yoders and with an extended visit to the Pennsylvania Dutch area in Lancaster County, PA, dinner at Yoders was definitely on the schedule.

Yoders is a restaurant and buffet that I have written about before, It is a bit unusual - though in this area it is not really out of the ordinary before - you see, it is located in a supermarket. In Lancaster County there are several supermarkets that have restaurants and a few of them have full buffets. The restaurant is actually in the building that the supermarket is located in but separated by a hallway that goes past gift shops and there is the restaurant. Of course, the supermarket is named Yoders as well.

From Monday to Thursday the dinner price at Yoders is $13.49. On Friday and Saturday nights the price for dinner is $14.49. Unlimited refill soft drinks cost $1.99. This may seem expensive to some used to the $10.99 buffets, but OCB also charges $1.99 for drinks. When compared to its neighbor buffet - Shady Maple, when you add the tax and tip at Yoders you come pretty close to the price that you pay there.

This is not a lavish buffet. There are no crystal chandeliers, there is no grand entrance lobby, and you do not have long buffet servers the length of the restaurant. What you do have is good food that is cooked from scratch and a nice selection with something for everyone. This visit was on a Friday night and this is Land and Sea night - as are Saturday nights - and the emphasis is on seafood.

This is a local restaurant that cooks to appeal to local tastes and this is a Mennonite and Amish area - when you are eating at Yoders, you will be eating at a table near Mennonite and Amish people. These are people who appreciate good, plain and fresh country cooking - and that is what you get at Yoders.

As usual, we started with soup. There were two soups - New England Clam Chowder and Stuffed Pepper soup. It is often the case at Yoders that the soups will be a bit out of the ordinary. I had the clam chowder. My wife skipped the soup - as you regular readers know - she is a picky eater who does not eat seafood other than shrimp, but there was plenty of non-seafood here for her to enjoy and she looks forward to coming back to Yoders. The clam chowder was thick and tasty - though a bit on the salty side. I lifted the lid on the tureen of the stuffed pepper soup and I was met with the strong and good smell of stuffed peppers. The soup was in a tomato base and was full of chopped meat and green peppers. (A day later I encountered freshly made, Stuffed Pepper Soup again at a food market - so apparently this is a local soup.)

There is a nice salad bar. It has several types of lettuce greens and also a large selection of prepared salads - some local to this area. There are toppings to make just about any type of mixed salad that you would like including Caesar Salad.

There is a large grill and on this night they were grilling marinated Delmonico steaks. You ask for your steak how you like it and that is how you get it. The steak was tasty. It did have the taste of what it had been marinated in which was slightly sweet, and, in my opinion, marinating is not necessary - but it was good. On weeknights there are other items served from the grill.

With the steak I chose potato filling - think of stuffing made of potatoes - green beans and stewed tomatoes. I also took a small amount of baked oatmeal. My good wife loves their baked oatmeal and it is good!

Thia may sound like an odd criticism of a restaurant, but portions at Yoders are large. I have said this in the past. When I eat at a buffet I like to take a tasting plate - small portions of things that I want to try and then have the ability to take a variety. When I finished the very good steak, I wanted to sample the seafood dishes that are offered Friday and Saturday nights. There were several that I had my eye on - one of which I have never had before. One other was the fried pollack and the pieces that were out where full size portions. Of course, you can take a little bit if you cut a piece of what is there but I don't like to do that. I feel that is wrong as it leaves a broken piece in the serving tray for someone else. So, I took a full piece.

The dish that I have never had before was Tuna Noodle Casserole. This was the butt of many jokes on 1960's TV comedy shows. The joke of "what is for dinner?" was always "tuna noodle casserole" and would be met with a frown. This may have been common at your house - we never had it in our family and my wife never had it on her house either - of course, she does not eat fish anyway. Well, there was tuna noodle casserole and I had to have some. It was actually very good. It was tuna - it seemed to be canned tuna which I suspect is how this is always made - and the tuna was blended with noodles, mushrooms and a cream sauce. It was thick and tasty. To this plate I also added a piece of the stuffed flounder. This was a flounder fillet that was rolled around a generic fish stuffing. It was all good. The flounder was tasty as was the pollack and the rest.

This is one of those buffets that you see things that tempt you to go back up and go a plate further. The fried chicken here is always good. I took a small piece. There was another fish dish that I wanted to try - baked haddock. This was thin fillets of haddock with a crumb and lemon topping. I could not take a whole piece and against my own desire not to cut off a piece from a larger piece there, I did just that. I did not take the fried shrimp but my wife did. There was also cocktail shrimp served both plain and spiced I passed on this too - though I have had this here before and it is good.

My wife was happy with ham loaf in pineapple sauce - chopped ham cooked into a meatloaf. She also took more than one portion of the baked oatmeal. She likes Yoders - no matter what night we are there and she was happy with the selections - which is saying a lot for any buffet on seafood night when my wife is there.

There is good reason to leave room for dessert here. They have a nice assortment of layer cakes, hot and cold prepared desserts - including many local favorites, fruit pies, shoo fly pie - of course, and a soft serve ice cream that is very good. There is a sundae bar to top the ice cream. Yoders complex includes a dairy and that dairy makes home style ice cream. It is a shame that this hard ice cream is not included on the buffet. It is served from the menu - and you can buy it in the attached supermarket. I have been told that it is excellent.

Yoders is a must try but if you go, as I said in the beginning, do not expect lavish. You do not go to Yoders for the atmosphere, you go for the food.

There is a website for Yoders listed at the side of this article. The restaurant is located at Yoder's Supermarket or perhaps, more properly, Yoder's Country Market, Route 23, New Holland, Pennsylvania. The phone number is (717) 354-4748.


ML said...

you are so right about it not being lavish.A few years ago we went in sat down (and we never, ever do this....we walked out) mainly because it seemed very ordinary compared to shady maple.
However since you have been raving about for so long< we definitely are going to try it (and we will stay this time)next time we're in the area

Jeff the ALDI Shopper said...

We actually prefer the food at Yoder's over Shady Maple. Shady Maple definitely has more to choose from, but we think the quality at Yoder's is just a touch better - and we're much more interested in the food than the decor!

We're big fans of Yoder's dairy products too, and make a weekly trip from our home on the Jersey shore to the Amish market in Bristol, PA to stock up on their Golden Guernsey milk. The ice cream is fabulous - some of the best "store-bought" I've ever had. It's well worth ordering next time you do the buffet!

Love the blog, I've tried several places based on your reviews that I never would have found on my own - keep up the great work!

Cecil said...

I have left Yoders several times in an extremely uncomfortable, stuffed state, sorry to admit. We travel long distances to get there and I just want to try everything. You should write sometime about "overstuffing" at a buffet. I am sure that you will get many comments from readers about it if you do.

Writer said...

Overstuffing is the reason the title of this site is Art of the Buffet or All You Can Eat is Not a Challenge. If you go back to the early articles when this site was started, I wrote a lot about this. Yes, there is often so much that it is good, it is hard to stop. I have had this happen too - but the art in buffet dining is knowing that there will be a next time and you don't have to eat everything that you see in one meal. I have often described my buffet meals as tasting meals - just a little of a variety of the many things that you see that you like. You will have tried it all - and not walk out feeling that you over did it.