Friday, August 03, 2012

Coming Back to Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant, Lancaster, PA

I have written about the buffet at the Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant several times in the past. My last article about this buffet was a year ago. We went back this year on the Fourth of July. Not all of the local buffet restaurants are open on the Fourth of July, for example, Dutch-Way and Yoders are both closed (or are open only until early in the afternoon). When selecting a buffet to dine at in this area, as many of you know, there are several that are at the top of my list. This one is about mid-way down. At times in the past, it has disappointed, but it is more often very good than not.

For a holiday night, the restaurant was not crowded, but the Fourth of July fell on a Wednesday night and those traveling to the area who could not have an extended Fourth of July weekend came on the weekend before or were coming on the weekend after. This was seen throughout Lancaster even at the tourist sites on July Fourth. The restaurant was not empty, but we have been here at this time of the year before and there have been waits to get in. We were seated right away.

The price for dinner has not changed since last year and it is still $17.99. The price of the dinner buffet includes the beverage. We had a coupon from their website - which is also found in the local tourist newspapers which are available all over the area for free - which gave $2 off the dinner price for each adult. This made the price not bad considering that drinks are usually 1.99 extra- so with the coupon this is equivalent to a 13.99 dinner at other buffets. It is a great value at the $13.99 equivalent - find a coupon before you come. The price may vary by the night. It may be higher on Fridays and Saturday nights.

My favorite thing at this restaurant is the chicken corn soup. It is unlike other chicken corn soups in the area. It is thick and rich. The soup is full of chicken, chopped hard boiled egg, and corn, and it is thickened with some type of grain. There is a slight vinegar taste to the soup. It is excellent. The other soups on the buffet on this night were vegetable beef and beef noodle. My wife had the vegetable beef soup - and as always here, liked it.

There is good salad bar here - and you can opt to just have the soup and salad bar as a meal. There is a good assortment of salad fixings for the lettuce that is out. There are also a number of prepared local salads. I had tried the Caesar Salad a year ago and I like it. I took Caesar Salad and it was just OK this time. There was nothing wrong with it, but I have had better. There is an excellent ham salad and this is something to try if they have it when you come. This salad seems to alternate with chicken salad - which is also very good here and tuna salad. I also took some cottage cheese and apple butter which is a local favorite. You have to put this together yourself - as for many years it is not often found talked about or even put out next to each other. Take a spoonful or more of cottage cheese and then put a spoonful of apple butter on top of it. This is really a taste treat - sweet, tart, and salty all at the same time. There is a small buffet server off to the side with white, wheat, and crispy rolls, raisin bread, wheat bread, white bread. There are also assorted cubed cheeses. Here you will find the apple butter also. The cottage cheese is on the cold server salad bar.

The buffet menu varies here by the night so what you may find one night, you may not find on another night of the week. The Friday and Saturday night offerings include more carvings. On this night on the hot buffet there was country sausage from New Holland Meats, chicken bot boi - very thick, full of large dumplings, chicken, and potatoes, fried shrimp, broasted chicken, pork and kraut- sweet and with plenty of pork, roast beef, turkey - two ways - in a tray and on the carving station, carved ham, Swedish meatballs, broiled pollack , pizza, zucchini casserole, red potatoes, corn on the cob, baked lima beans, bread filling, succatash, ham and scalloped potatoes, carrots, stewed tomatoes, buttered noodles, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy and beef gravy.

I love the turkey here that is served per-carved in the tray. It is a whole turkey cut into pieces, both white meat and dark, and served in its own liquid. I find it has a great taste that is unlike carved turkey. I eat a lot of turkey. To me this is the best. The sausage was very good. This is local country sausage and I enjoyed it a lot. The chicken bot boi was very good because of how thick and full it was - no skimping on any ingredient. The pork and sauerkraut was outstanding. It was more sweet than tart. Generally, the tartness of sauerkraut can overwhelm this dish. Here the sauerkraut was sweetened and this really added to this local favorite. It was also full of chopped pork. The broiled pollack, however, was too salty. The zucchini casserole was good but it had an under taste of some seasoning that was OK but I did not care for. My wife did like it.

On Saturday nights, there is a separate buffet set up for kids. It was set up on this night also - perhaps because it was a holiday. They call it the Kids Corner. There were hot dogs, hamburgers, nacho chips with cheese sauce on the side, chicken nuggets, turkey, macaroni and cheese, smiley face potatoes, carrots, kernal corn, pretzals, potato chips, apple sauce, canned peaches, chocolate pudding, and cookies in little packages. The price for kids is 75 cents per year of age from ages 4 to 12. I don't think that they would mind if an adult having the buffet also sampled some of this.

There is a serving counter at the back wall that is the dessert area. There was shoo fly pie, custard pie, oatmeal pie, vanilla pie, fruit pies, shoo fly cake, sheet cake, whoopie pies, prepared desserts, pudding, canned fruit, softserve ice cream, and two flavors of Slushies. On this night there was no fresh fruit. The baking is good here. This restaurant is associated with the Bird-In-Hand Bake Shop. You can just order the dessert bar without a meal.

I very much enjoyed this meal at the Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant. It made me wonder why I have not gone back as often. One thing had been in the past - longer than a year ago, the price here was higher - a lot higher. They seem to have realized that to bring in the families of tourists to compete in this area you need to be affordable - while serving a good and quality meal. They are doing that at the current pricing. I also liked the selections on this night more than what I have had here on Friday or Saturday nights. This is just a personal preference of my own.

I highly recommend that you try the buffet at Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant. I was asked recently by a friend where to dine in Lancaster and, of course, recommended the usual tops on my list but added that if they did not want to travel too far out of the central area for dinner to go here. Try it.

Like all of the other local buffets and restaurants they do close at 8:00 pm and they are not open on Sundays. There is a good chance when you come here there will be Amish and Mennonites dining here as well.

Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant is located at 2760 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505. The phone number is 1-800-665-8780. There is a website located at the side of this page.

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