Friday, May 17, 2013

Back to Ryans Buffet in Hagerstown, Maryland

A year ago I was at Ryan's Buffet in Hagerstown, Maryland and things there were marginal in terms of the cleanliness of the dishes, and a few other things that you can read about here. I ended that article saying that if I got back there, I would try it again and recently, I was in Hagerstown. I was reluctant to go back but decided that maybe it did improve in a year's time. We went and for the most part it has improved.

Starting right off, the restaurant was cleaner and the dishes were clean - as were the tables, the dining room, and the serving area. This was what I was concerned about the most and there was no problem in this regard.

This Ryan's could easily be renamed Old Country Buffet and other than the grill in the serving area and the noodles in the chicken soup you would see no difference. This Ryan's has become the most like an OCB of the Ryan's that I have been to since the take over several years ago.

We went on a Thursday night - Family Night when all kids eat for 99 cents. Other than what was paid at the register, one would not have know it was Family Night by what was going on in the restaurant or by what was served on the buffet. There was nothing kid-oriented about the food that night and there were none of the  kid activities that have gone on at the OCBs I have been to on a Thursday night. Between you and me, this was just fine with me. The nicest thing was that there were no children running around the restaurant as if it were a playground - which I have experienced at OCBs on Thursday nights since this promotion started.

There were none of the foods that I have known Ryans for - regardless of the night - found here on this night. No chicken pot pie. No smoked sausage. There apparently had been chicken fried steak, but the sign remained but there was none to be found. There was a grill chef cooking steaks on a charcoal grill and you could ask for your steak to order - but he was not cooking anything special. He just cut open a steak that appeared to be as you wanted it, and offered it. Rare was more medium well with the first piece of steak I tried. The steak was tough and grizzled. The heavy pepper seasoning that is put on the steaks was overwhelming.  Later for lack of anything else, I tried another piece. This time the steak was closer to rare - and acceptable medium rare, but half the steak was fat - not fatty, but solid fat.Ryan's steak used to be so good. Sadly, it is now the same steak that Buffets, Inc. serves at all of their chain names and this steak is far from what they promote it to be.

The usual OCB menu was out and is fine if you are at an OCB, but at Ryan's, even after the takeover, I expect more of the Ryan's menu. As I say, other than good doughy noodles in the chicken soup, a salad bar that was a lot more extensive than an OCB salad bar, and a few layer cakes out for dessert, it was not Ryan's as it once was.

The service was good and the server was there to pick up plates and offer drink refills - unlike OCB you still get your drinks from your server at Ryan's.

All in all, the meal was fine.The important thing was that the restaurant is now clean. If we are in Hagerstown again, we may go back and next time I would not hesitate as I did this time because of last year's experience there. There are few buffets now in this area so there is not much of a choice as there had been years ago.

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