Friday, September 06, 2013

Shady Maple at the Height of Tourist Seaon

We were at Shady Maple Smorgasbord, in East Earle, PA at the end of July on a Saturday night - and this is a Saturday night at the height of the summer tourist season in Lancaster, PA. I love Shady Maple, but I have to say that I love it much more when it is not overwhelmingly crowded with tourists.

There is usually some line and wait to get in and be seated but there were more people here on this night than there were on the Fourth of July when we had been there before this. And so many people that were here were on this night must never have been to a buffet before. And given the many places that people come from to visit this area and those that dine at Shady Maple - on this night some of the rudest people found there way here. To avoid waiting on the longest line, we opted to wait on a shorter line and sit at a booth. We very much always prefer to sit at a table no mater where we are dining. Well, the booth was fine but there was a man in the booth behind us that had to keep his arm over the back of the booth and next to me sitting there the whole time he was there (and there was absolutely nothing wrong with his arm). I am not sure how he could eat without this arm - though he did not seem to be doing much of that. Going around to the buffet servers was pretty much an exercise in avoiding those who wandered aimlessly perhaps in a daze from all the good food around them and those who had to line up cafeteria style at the end of one of the very long counters with the idea that everyone will just follow behind them as they go along tray by tray as they come. No - a buffet is not a cafeteria. You walk up to a tray, wait your turn if someone is there, and then take what you want and move to another part of the buffet and do the same.  Oh and the "plate pilers" - the ones that start filling the plate from the bottom up and keep stacking everything that they are going to eat until it is a foot high - they were all around on this night. One guy had a plate stacked high and from what I could see the foundation was potato salad and covering that for several inches was mashed potatoes. Another had a soup bowl of soup balanced on the edge next to the steak. It is really sad that people come to a buffet and forget that it is going to be there all night (at this buffet there is no doubt about that) and that you can take some and eat it like a person and come back and take another course or some more. Oh, and then there were the "touchers" - at the dessert area - who had to touch every piece of cake and pie that was out - picking the plate up, looking at it, and then putting it back.  And the guy as he is being seated who is saying loudly to the people he is with - "Do you think they will give us styrofoam containers so we can take it home with us?"

So what did I have? I have written about Shady Maple and its good food so much that it is a given that I will tell you about good things to be found at Shady Maple - at any time of the year. Well, even during tourist season this buffet shines like the brightest star. One of my favorite Shady Maple soups was on the buffet - Maryland Crab. This is a red tomato based crab soup with plenty of REAL crabmeat in it.

 I did something on this night I don't usually do. I ate mostly what was on the grills with little from the buffet tables. I have been to Shady Maple many times but I have not been there (not sure how) when they were serving their own Shady Maple made country sausage on the grill. This was wonderful and I went back several times for more - taking just one at a time. There was New York Strip Steak on the chargrill and while I prefer the Delmonico they also serve on Monday nights, I had a NY Strip. It is not my favorite cut of steak but the lady behind the grill had one rare and it was pretty good! There was also kielbasa on the grill and I have not had that before at Shady Maple. That was pretty good also but the country sausage was a winner for me on this night and that was the main focus of this meal.  I did take a few things from the buffet servers as side dishes but the only thing entree item I took from there was the cod cakes - which were not like the cod cakes that I had here on my last visit that were called Portuguese cod cakes and were made on the grill iron. Those were spicy. These were not spicy and very tasty. 

Service was excellent as always. The servers here are top notch!

You already know that I am going to say that the food and the meal itself was excellent - and it was. It was just the tourists - the buffet noobies - that I, for one, would rather avoid. Well, if you want an excellent meal in Lancaster County in the middle of the summer you have to put up with this almost everywhere - especially on a Saturday night!

Please take note - I am not mentioning prices because prices change but at Shady Maple always be aware that the  price listed is the price you pay in total at the register and it includes a pre-added tip and the local sales tax. It may look high but it already includes what would usually be added on top. There is always value here for your money and compared to other buffets and the overwhelming amount of good food you are offered here it is well worth the price!

Shady Maple is open from Monday to Saturday until 8:00 pm. They are closed on Sundays and certain holidays. Shady Maple Smorgasbord is located at 129 Toddy Drive in East Earl, PA. Take Route 23 East from Lancaster or Route 322 South to get to the restaurant. (Put the name in your GPS and it will know it.) The phone numbers are 1-800-238-7363 and 717-354-8222.  There is a website and it is listed at the side of this page.There is also a very active Facebook page!

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