Friday, July 12, 2013

One of Two Dinners in a Week at Dutch-Way Family Restaurant, Gap, PA

We were staying several nights in Lancaster, PA and out of all of the buffet restaurants that we love to go to in Lancaster, Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in Gap was the one that was calling us to go to first. We went on a Tuesday night. We seem to go to Dutch-Way a lot on Tuesday nights. The specials for Tuesdays on the dinner buffet at the grill are "build your own burgers" and a choice of hot wings.

I have written about Dutch-Way several times and the Gap location is one of our Top Buffets for 2012. I was curious if they posted our certificate and found that they did not. I am not sure why. Some other buffets that are awarded our certifications do post them prominently. This buffet is so good I cannot hold that against them.

This is a local restaurant much out of the tourist area. When dining here you are primarily dining with people from the communities around the restaurant including Old Order Amish families and Mennonite families. On this night there were several tables of Amish people dining at the buffet. Getting to this buffet means driving somewhat out of the way of the usual tourist area. It is not far and it is worth the trip.

Dinner from Monday to Wednesday is $11.99 and there is a discount for seniors 60 and over. The soda price is $1.99 and includes refills. Pricing here goes up on Seafood Night which is Thursday and is higher Friday and Saturday nights. As I have described in the past, is part of a supermarket and while the restaurant is completely separated from the supermarket there is a hall that connects the supermarket part of the building with the restaurant entrance. The dining room and restaurant have very nice ambiance and are at a standard equal to any stand-alone restaurant. The decor is pleasant and there are booths and tables that will seat from two to a large group. There is also a separate dining room for parties and meetings. That room has been frequently in use when we have been to the restaurant.

One nice thing about this buffet is that there is also menu dining and they have no problem is someone in your group wants to order from the menu and others want to order from the buffet. Some restaurants make a big deal about this - and perhaps that is necessary for those who want to sneak food from the buffets and just pay for a platter. There is no problem here - each order whichever way they want.

I have to get right into what was on the buffet on this particular night. I don't think we have ever been to Dutch-Way and not found something different on the buffet from other visits. As we like to start with soup, we shall start here with soup and there are always four soups. This night there were Chili, Beef Vegetable, Corn Chowder, and Beef Barley. I tried the corn chowder and my wife had the beef vegetable. The corn chowder was very good and loaded with potatoes and corn in a cream based chowder that was between thick and thin. The beef vegetable soup was a beef based stock with vegetables. It was not loaded with beans or cabbage as some vegetable soups can be and this made this soup better.

The salad bar at Dutch-Way is extensive and it takes up both sides of a buffet server. The arrangement on this night was odd for this buffet and several diners at the salad bar were commenting about this. Everything that has always been there was there but in a different spot and arranged on different sides from where people expected to find things. Other than the so many things to add to a salad, the prepared salads are very good and the potato salad was especially good. If you have never tried Lebanon bologna, there are chunks of it here to add to a salad. This is something to try and a specialty of this area.

There are two long hot servers and half of one is filled with hot dessert choices. The entrees that we found on this night were Ham Balls with pineapple sauce, Swiss meatballs with mushroom sauce, Chicken Bot Boi, Chicken with Biscuit, Roast Beef, Turkey, Henny Penny Chicken which is a version of "broasted" chicken, Cajun catfish, Pork and Kraut, Lemon Herb Pollak, and Dutchloaf in brown gravy which is meatloaf. Add to this the specials on the grill which were "build your own burgers" and hot wings. The "build your own burgers" were burgers grilled to order and then on top you chose items like bacon, sauteed mushrooms, sauteed onions, raw onion, a variety of cheeses, tomatoes, and other toppings and sauces. The burger is served on a roll. I had mine without a roll. The side dishes were
Mixed Vegetables which were not the usual frozen mixed vegetables but rather an assortment of fresh vegetables, Green bean casserole, Roast potatoes, Baked Limas, Stewed Tomatoes, Macaroni and Cheese, Mashed Potatoes, Potato Filling, Pineapple filling which is bread filling full of pineapple, and Beets.

I have talked about Chicken Bot Boi from various restaurants in Lancaster County many times. Here the noodles are more pasta like and less doughy dumplings as is done at some restaurants. The squares of noodle/dumplings are in a thick yellow chicken stock with chunks of chicken meat, carrots, and celery all boiled together into a stew. This is similar to but not like Chicken Pot Pie - there is no crust and the taste is much different. While I prefer the larger doughy dumplings the taste of this Chicken Bot Boi is very good.

The Chicken with Biscuit is creamed chicken served  topped with individual biscuits and it is very good. The Swiss Meatballs were just right with the mushroom sauce that was covering them. The ham balls were not too sweet in their pineapple sauce and they are a favorite of the both of us. The Pork and Sauerkraut here is not overwhelmingly flavored with vinegar as it can be in some buffets.  The Lemon Herb Pollack was light in texture and right in taste. My wife who as my regular readers know is a picky eater and likes primarily plain foods likes the Dutchloaf here. She does not care for meatloaf covered in ketchup and here it is served in brown gravy. It has a dense texture that holds together well.

At the grill I had a burger made to order. I asked for a medium rare burger with cheese, bacon, and sauteed mushrooms with no roll. The burger was cooked perfectly. The items were melted together on the flatiron grill so that the cheese was dripping down the sides of the burger. It was a very good burger and I enjoyed it! (Why no roll? I learned a long time ago eating at buffets and all you care to eat restaurants that there is no need to fill up needlessly on bread when there are so many good things to have.)

The potato filling as I have said in previous articles about Dutch-Way is one of the best with the potato taste predominant and not the dough it is mixed with. The Green Bean Casserole is the Thanksgiving favorite and made exceptionally good with fresh green beans in a mushroom cream sauce and topped and mixed through with fried onions. These did not seem to be the canned onions but similar onions made in the kitchen. 

Along with the meal there is a counter with a variety of breads with breads like pumpkin bread, banana nut bread, breads swirled with fruit and more. Some of these make a good dessert - but there are good dessert choices here that vary. There are many prepared puddings and desserts. There are fruit and cream pies. There is a cold case with the pies that need to be kept cold. There are usually cakes but there were none out on this night. There were hot desserts - warm cakes with toppings to pour over on one of the hot buffet servers. There is also Turkey Hill brand soft serve ice cream and a sundae bar. I don't often take dessert but I could not resist the Shoo Fly Cake which was served to scoop from a tray with the prepared desserts and the cracker pudding. Shoo Fly Cake is a molasses cake with a crumb topping. It is very similar to Shoo Fly Pie which is a specialty of this area. Cracker pudding I can only find now at two restaurants and this is one of them. Think rice or bread pudding but made with saltine crackers and shredded coconut. This is very good!

Service was excellent as usual here. The server was bringing us drink refills before we were half finished with our drinks. Dishes were gone each time we returned from the buffet servers with a next plate. She was very friendly and very good!

I enjoyed this meal so much that I knew then that we had to come back again for dinner before we left the area. I very much recommend Dutch-Way. It looks like a small buffet when you look at the buffet servers but it is big on taste and quality. I am hesitant to encourage tourists to come here because it is not a tourist restaurant but if you are visiting the area and you will go out of the way to come here, have dinner at Dutch-Way. 

Be aware that they close at 8 and this means that they really do start to break down the buffet at 8 pm. If you arrive close to 8, expect to see them taking things away or at the least, combining what is remaining into a smaller area while they begin to clean. There are some buffets that seat until the closing time and keep the food area open. This is not one of them. This does not bother me. I get there early enough to be finished at 8 pm. 

The Dutch-Way Family Restaurant is located at the Dutch-Way Farm Market Supermarket at 365 Gap Newport Pike (Route 41), Gap, Pennsylvania 17527. The buffet is served from 4 pm to 8 pm Monday to Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays. This is about two and a half miles south of Route 30. There is a web site and that is linked at the side of this page. The phone number is 610-593-6080.

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