Friday, December 27, 2013

A Waste of $90

Anyone who reads this site regularly knows that I would not pay for a buffet that costs $90 for two, but we were invited to one and we went with relatives. I have written of this annual Christmas Eve excursion before but this year the price is higher and the meal was just not good. The restaurant is not a buffet normally. It is a menu restaurant with a catering hall on the side that has been around for many, many years. As a boy I came here with my family to the menu restaurant. My parents when I got older but still at home would come here for special occasions and Christmas Eve. They liked it for Christmas Eve because it had a very festive holiday atmosphere, though even then they would be disappointed in the food. Were I not invited - and understand this is more a command appearance than anything else (though I do enjoy seeing the children) - I would not go there. The restaurant is the Milleridge Inn in Jericho, New York and the buffet is served on several holidays during the year. The buffet is served in the catering building (seen a year ago on an episode of the television show, "Royal Pains", (which films locally) as where the brother's wedding took place.

The restaurant and the buffet was crowded. It surprised me given the cost of the dinner, but around here income (to many - not me) seems irrelevant when it comes to spending money. By accident, we stumbled across the price of this dinner as we were waiting for the people who invited us to arrive, as they were arriving late. Their arriving late had caused a problem for the restaurant. This was the last seating. They called me and asked me to inform the restaurant that they would be there a half hour late. I was told by the hostess that the restaurant closed at 9 and those who were coming late should be told that. OK. About ten minutes later, she came over to me and said she was about to give away all reservations who had not arrived - I looked around and saw no one waiting and empty tables inside now not being filled - and that in a few minutes there would be no reservation for our group unless we sat now - pretty much in their attitude therefore guaranteeing them payment for at least two. We had preferred not to go in without our hosts but if we did not go in then without them, there would be no table for anyone when they arrived. We reluctantly went in and were seated. We did not eat anything or touch anything on the table until they arrived - as it was my intention to walk out the door if the party had not arrived by 8:00 pm and not pay for anything. Anyway, the price - while we  were standing in the lobby next to one of the reception desks and there printed on a paper, not visible to the public, it said $45.00 per adult. Later I learned that children are charged at $19.99 per child, seemingly regardless of age as a three year old at our table who consumed a few spoonfuls of fruit salad and not much else was charged $19.99 as was a 12 year old. On top of this tax and gratuity are added by the restaurant to the bill along with any beverages - soft or hard - that are ordered with the exception of hot coffee or hot tea. So here are four adults and two children with a dinner bill coming to over $220 plus soft drinks charged at bar prices, tax, and tip (tip amount added by the restaurant) - no alcohol ordered. As I overheard, the total was near $300!

For that kind of money I wish the meal had been good. Everything was tasteless. Items were mislabeled. The choices to select from were extremely limited - and most entrees were sweetened in some form or other.

There was an appetizer section of prepared salads - Italian cold cuts, julianned and mixed with Italian dressing, small mozzarella balls with grape tomatoes, pasta salad with seafood - scattered bits of shrimp and tiny scallops, one or two other pasta salads, and shrimp out of the shell on ice with cocktail sauce. Sounds good, but tasteless - every dish out in this section was tasteless. There was a salad of mixed greens with one dressing served on the side of the salad serving bowl.

There was a "kids'" section consisting of cut up hot dogs wrapped in dough, chicken fingers, french fries, and macaroni and cheese. I tried the mac and cheese - tasteless.

The entrees went around two sides, repeated. Salmon in teriyaki sauce, Veal scallopini (which on one side was the label on a second server of the next dish which was) chicken in barbecue sauce with pineapple, beef and broccoli, penne with vodka sauce, mashed potatoes, spaghetti and clam sauce, and steamed vegetables that were swimming deep in butter sauce. There were three carvings - turkey breast, ham, and a roast beef that was presented as if it were something better. It all sounds nice, right? But everything that I took was tasteless - even that which was overly sweet. I guess it had a generic sweet taste. The turkey gravy was thin and seemed to be from a mix. And with each unsatisfying bite, I was thinking what a waste of money. When I went up and asked for roast beef the chef who was carving after putting the meat on my plate, grunted and pointed at me with his carving knife and then pointed the knife at the beef gravy sitting in serving dish next to him and grunted again. How pleasant!

By the time our group was ready for dessert several servers rushed to the table with coffee pots and one had a clear glass water pitcher full of boiling water for tea. As there was only one teabag in the sugar dish, had anymore than one wanted tea, as things were going they would have been out of luck. While we were dining I had heard a number of desserts being offered by servers to tables around us. One dessert to a person - no dessert buffet. When we asked what they had for dessert the selection was down to chocolate mouse cake which the 12 year old told me was overly sweet, coconut cake, and cheesecake.

I have had more enjoyable meals at Old Country Buffet. I have had more enjoyable meals at buffets that are just fair at less than one-fourth the price. For the money spent for an hour and a half dinner for six, the two of us could eat at buffets for about three months two or so times a week. It was such an incredible waste of money. I am not often effected after a buffet meal but as I write this I have been burping some odd tastes for more than an hour and a half now. This is not going to be a very good night.

Well, if you are ever considering this restaurant - menu or holiday buffet - skip it! It is not good, has no value, and is not worth it. And with that, I wish you a Merry Christmas to all - and for those who did not eat here, to all a good night. as we who did dine here are going to be awake most of the night.

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