Friday, May 24, 2013

Back to Golden Corral, Hagerstown, Maryland

I was first at the Hagerstown, Maryland Golden Corral when it had first opened. I was impressed them with this Golden Corral, and I still am. We recently went back for dinner on a Friday night.

The restaurant is in the back of the Valley Mall parking lot in Hagerstown. This was one of the Golden Corrals that started putting out the plates in racks for customers to take without relying on a server to bring clean plates when needed. This was a big deal, as a poor server at a Golden Corral in the past could be a real problem to the progress of your meal if there are no clean plates being brought to you. The plates out and available has now come to all Golden Corrals. This location also had the Asian Wok food area that has now come to many other - but not all - Golden Corral restaurants.

Since the take over of Ryan's by Buffets, Inc., I consider the Golden Corral chain as the top national buffet chain. What is served tends to be of a better quality and the presentation is certainly more grand than Old Country Buffet and what Ryan's has now become. One of my top reasons is the char-grill at the buffet and steaks served to your order. You want rare, you get rare. You want well-done, you get well done - providing the grill chef knows what he is doing. The meat is tasty and the steak generally is tender. When Golden Corral is carving turkey, as they were doing on this night, they are carving an actual turkey on the bone, and not a plumped up, reconstituted turkey breast.

There was one noticeable difference on this visit and that was that the salad bar was somewhat abbreviated from what it is at other Golden Corrals that I have been to - and this was not as it was the last time I was at this location.  There were items on Golden Corral salad bars that my wife regularly takes, that were missing here - and no place for them to be. There was a good salad bar but it was not as complete as we expected it to be based on other Golden Corrals. It may be that they made room for the Chocolate Fountain which sits in this restaurant between the salad bar and the desserts along the same serving counter.

I was glad to see that the pan fried seafood that was the feature at Golden Corral restaurants for the past two summers is now gone. No more lines at the grill while one chef cooks one fry pan at a time for each customer waiting on line for fish cooked to order.

The feature that was current when we were there - and these features seem to change now at Golden Corral very frequently - was hot wings and they had several types of hot wings on the buffet with various sauces on them. This feature is called Wing Fest. There were barbecue wings, teriyaki wings, boneless wings, spicy garlic wings, Buffalo wings. While it lasts the feature is served every night of the week after 4 pm for dinner and on Sundays after 11 am.  I am not a fan of wings and I did not try them but there were many guests taking them and enjoying them.

The only thing I was not happy with on this trip were the barbecue spareribs. They had little meat on them and they were cooked to long which dried out the meat that was on them rather than making them fall off the bone tender. The over done meat had to be scraped off the bone, and along with the meat came shards of bone. I usually like Golden Corral's ribs. Those on this night were a disappointment.

Ribs aside, I had a good meal. I enjoyed the steak. I enjoyed the turkey. There was plenty to choose from and the food was good. Desserts are more extensive than at other chain buffets.

The restaurant is still well maintained and clean. Our server was very good. Management was also making announcements that children under 10 should not be up at the buffet alone - if only the parents of the children who were up there paid attention to the announcements and did as they should and accompany their children.

I recommend this Golden Corral. There are not many buffet choices in Hagerstown any longer and this was a much better meal than our meal at Ryan's the previous night. The address is 17635 Valley Mall Road, Hagerstown, Maryland 21740. The phone number is (301) 582-6209. There is a link to the chain's website at the side of this page. You will see whatever current feature they are offering on the webpage.

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