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.


songbird's crazy world said...

Frankly after my bad experience in Levittown I am very skeptical about this chain.

Writer said...

There is a new manager in Levittown who is doing a very good job at straightening it out. I will be doing an article at some point about the improvements there- but I am giving it some time to see that they remain.