Friday, August 10, 2012

Dienners Restaurant, Lancaster, PA

The only night that Dienners is open past 6:00 pm is Friday. On Fridays it is open to 8:00 pm. I am rarely near Dienners on a Friday evening to make it there. I recently was able to schedule in a visit to Dienners for dinner on a Friday night. The last time I ate at Dienners was three years ago.

When we got to Dienners it was 6:30 pm and there was a line to get in. Dienners is located on Route 30 very close to the area of Lancaster County that is the heart of the tourist trade. On a Friday night in the summer, Dienners attracts a mixed crowd of tourists and locals and on this night that we were there, there were also several groups of Mennonites that came in for dinner.

We were told that the wait would be from twenty to twenty five minutes and it was exactly that - twenty five minutes. You are given a pager to carry around so that you can visit the few shops next to the restaurant. This was an excessively hot night, and we went into the country gift shop next door just to avoid standing outside in the heat. The pager buzzes and lights and when it did we went inside and were seated.

It took about five minutes for our waitress to come over - and this was a foretelling of how she would be for the rest of the meal. I should say that she was not bad - but she was scarce to pick up soiled dishes off the table. She did eventually and she did bring drink refills.

The price of the buffet on Monday to Thursday for dinner is $10.25. On Friday and Saturday, the price is $11.50. The charge for children is 75 cents per year of age. It is actually better to order the buffet than to order off the menu here as the prices for the meals on the menu would add to more than the buffet. Soft drinks with refills are $1.49.

I have mentioned before that Dienners and the Family Cupboard restaurant are owned by members of the same family. The restaurants are operated separately, but much of the offerings on the buffet at both restaurants are the same. As I found on this visit, the recipes at each are slightly different. I am going to note here that I realized at this meal that I prefer the cooking at Family Cupboard. There is nothing wrong with Dienners, and the food is good. There is a bit more emphasis on adding a lot more butter to the recipes at Dienners.

There are two soups. One is always Chicken Corn Soup and the other varies. For Friday night, the other soup is New England Clam Chowder. The chicken corn soup is a thick chicken noodle soup with plenty of chicken, noodles, and corn - and some chopped hard boiled egg. The soup is thickened with creamed corn - not corn with cream, but corn that has been creamed - pulverized to a creamy consistency. This soup was good. On my prior visit it had been more like the one served at Family Cupboard. It is not really right of me to keep drawing comparisons to Family Cupboard, but if you have been to both you would clearly see why it lends itself so readily to do so.

The salad bar has most of what you want to create your own salad and there are a number of local recipe prepared salads. There are a several salad dressings for your salad, but just one type of lettuce.

What makes the dinner on Friday and Saturday night different from Monday to Thursday are the fried shrimp and fried cod that are on the buffet. I am guessing that these take the place of Fried Chicken and meat loaf. In addition to these two seafood dishes there were beef cubes in brown gravy, their signature rotisserie chicken, sliced ham, mashed potatoes, noodles in brown butter, green beans, beets, stewed tomatoes, kernel corn, baby carrots, bread filling, baked Lima beans, broccoli, white rice, macaroni and cheese, There is chicken gravy and brown gravy. There are also dinner rolls out with apple butter and Amish peanut butter (this is a local spread). The cooks here are Amish women and they are out at the buffet checking on what needs to be refiled and bringing more food out when needed.

I like fried fish - and one of the things I was looking forward to was the fish. The fish was strips of cod, fried in batter. It was good. The rotisserie chicken is just like that featured at Family Cupboard. I enjoy this chicken - both here and at Family Cupboard.

Noodles in brown butter are narrow noodles that have browned butter mixed thoroughly on them. To make browned butter you put butter on a stove in a pan and cook it down to almost burning to the point that brown flakes form in the butter and thicken it. It has a nutty flavor. There was a bit too much butter added. It was tasty but it really was more than it needed. The kernel corn was in a butter sauce also and that too could have had less butter and been just as good.

Don't get me wrong - it was all good. And for this area, authentic.

There is a dessert buffet server, a pie case, and a soft serve ice cream machine. There are a number of local desserts and these included egg custard, which is what I look for at PA Dutch buffet dessert bars. There were plenty of other things as well - shoo fly cake, hot fudge cake, hot apple crisp, pumpkin torte, chocolate eclair dessert, jello, cherry cheese delight, fruit salad, pistachio pudding, Oreo dessert, sugar free desserts, and much more. In the pie server there was shoo fly pie, cream pies, fruit pies, and lemon pie.

It was all good - no, I did not have all of what I have listed here and I limited my dessert to a small taste of the egg custard.

I would go back to Dienners but I would go to Family Cupboard before I would come back to Dienners. This is just my preference. I recommend Dienners but not as highly as I have in the past. If you dine early then you can go to Dienners any day. If, like many, you dine after 6:00 pm, then you can only have dinner at Dienners on Friday nights. For the same buffet menu and less butter - and open to 8 pm every night (except closed on Sundays, of course) - but with a higher meal price - go to Family Cupboard on Rt. 340.

Dienners is located in a building that at one time - many years ago - was a shoo fly pie bakery- in fact the best shoo fly pie in Lancaster. For some reason the acoustics in the dinning room are poor and it is very loud. Also for some reason the meal was not as relaxed as it should have been. It was crowded and it was warm - again, it was a record breaking heat day in July two days after July 4th.

Dienners is located at 2855 Lincoln Highway East in East Ronks, Pennsylvania (This is US Route 30). It is next to the big windmill so you cannot miss it. I have told you the hours, remember that like the rest of the local buffets it is closed on Sundays. Their phone number is 717-687-9571. There is a sparse website and that is listed at the side of this page.

1 comment:

Leslie said...

We went to Dienners this Saturday for lunch and loved it. Would recommend it.