Friday, April 26, 2013

Festival Buffet at Foxwoods Casino, CT - Hmmm...

The Festival Buffet at the Foxwoods Casino and Resort in Mashantucket, CT is one of our picks for top buffets in 2012. I have been to this buffet many times over a number of years and was there twice in 2012. It was just my birthday and each year on my birthday we will travel within a certain radius to a buffet that I very much enjoy. In past years this has included Shady Maple, a now closed buffet at one of the casino's in Atlantic City, NJ, and the Festival Buffet at Foxwoods. This year it was between Shady Maple (where my meal would have been free on my birthday) or Foxwoods. I decided on Foxwoods for several reasons - one, I have been looking forward to going back, two, I was recently at Shady Maple, and three, the expense in tolls and mileage is a lot less. We make a day of it, do some things I like to do in the area and then go on to dinner.

I particularly like this buffet when they have the "enhanced" menu on the weekend but my birthday was on a Thursday so that was the day we were going. The basic difference in the buffet menu is that for an increase in price of two dollars they include steak and crab leg clusters. The rest of the buffet is pretty much the same.  We arrived at the buffet at 7 pm and there was no line to get in. The dining room was busy but not overwhelmingly so. We were sat at a table near the buffet. I was anticipating a great dinner.

The server came over to the table and very pleasantly asked what we would have for beverages. I ordered an unsweetened ice tea and my wife, a diet soda. We went up for soup. There were four soups  - two thin and two cream  - and all were good choices. I choose the New England Clam Chowder over the Tomato and Cheddar soup. As it has been in the past the soup was nicely thick and creamy and you could see and taste the fresh clams in the soup. So far so good. When we came back to the table our drinks had arrived. I always take a sip first before I add any artificial sweetener, just in case there was a mistake made and the tea was sweetened to start with. Good thing because this glass of ice tea was sweetened. My wife sipped her diet soda and said it tasted too sweet. I tried it and it was not diet. We looked for the server. She was around but ignoring our table. She even went by twice tending to other tables but never looked in our direction and never acknowledged either of our attempts to get her over. At one point she was standing on the side having what appeared to be a meeting with someone in authority. Never the less, it was until we finished our salads that she actually saw the dishes stacking up on our table and came over to get them - and that was when she was told that the drinks were wrong. She insisted that the soda was correct and was uncertain about the ice tea. She picked up the glasses and went off to get us new drinks. When they came back, this time they were correct. It happens - and with an attentive table server it is no problem at all - he/she comes over as they should to pick up plates or see that all is well, you tell them of the problem, and they whisk away the glasses and bring new ones. But this can't happen if the server does not come by. I had medication to take and I am swallowing pills with clam chowder with the potatoes wanting to go down with the pills. She only minorly got better for the rest of the meal. The servers we have experienced here in the past have always been good.

As I mentioned we had salad. The salad bar items were fine, but the signs over the dressings that were attached to the glass sneeze guard above looked like someone had shuffled them randomly before sticking them on. All of the dressings on the signs were down there but which was which? Obviously, the colors are a give away from some, but the three white dressings - Ranch, Blue Cheese, and Caesar were anyone's guess. I guessed wrong. I had a Caesar salad with Ranch dressing.

I will not go into the details of the food items on the vast buffet. You can read about this buffet in the article naming it a Top Buffet of 2012. I expect items to change from visit to visit and in many sections they do. I went around to all of the sections and looked at what there was before I started selecting. My wife later commented that she thought that there was less out than usual - and it did appear that this was so. Not a lot less, but less.  I went over first to the barbecue section which is separated from the other sections by a wall and a door into a side dining room where the barbecue section can be found. There were barbecue ribs and pulled beef barbecue. There was also baked chicken and fried chicken. The same fried chicken was repeated on another section.  I choose the ribs and some of the beef barbecue to try it. The beef barbecue was strings of beef in a nice pulled sytle barbecue sauce. I had a hard time finding ribs in the half full tray of ribs. Most looked burnt and dry. I found one nice looking rib with a lot of meat on it, and I took a smaller rib that had lost its bone that was the better of the overdone looking ribs. The nice looking rib was very nice. The other was tough and chewy and not worth trying to bite through. Later when I went back to look the rib tray was just as I had left it - no more had been put out - I had hoped of finding another good one.

Many of the entrees that were being served in various sections were very oily. Even the fried cod - batter dipped pieces of cod that has always been good before was sitting in grease in the pan. As regular readers know, I take a little and try it and if I really like it, the item becomes one of the things I will go back for more of. One dish was a beef in a wine sauce with mushrooms. The beef was chewy but the sauce was nice. Another dish was sliced pork sorentino- slices of pork loin in an oily onion sauce. That was tough and way too full of oil. In the Italian section there was small plates of individual chicken parmigiana - these small ceramic plates were sitting on a hot metal warming plate that was so hot that picking up one of the small plates of chicken I burned my finger as it brushed the metal below. Also in the Italian section there was sausage and peppers in tomato sauce. The sausage was also tough - it is not easy to make sausage tough. I will also mention the Asian section. Most dishes there were spicy. There was something that I decided I would try a little of - thin noodles with squid. I do not like squid or octopus and I do not eat it. This goes way back for me to when I was a child - and both were popular dishes served on Christmas Eve by my family. Popular with everyone except me. Anyway, I was intrigued by thin Asian noodles with squid so I took a spoon of it. There was no visible squid. The noodles were a very, very dark brown. I suspect that this was made with squid ink and not pieces of squid. I did try it - more than one bite. I was bitter and otherwise not all that worthwhile to keep eating - and my reaction to the taste had nothing to do with my aversion to squid. Perhaps someone who has had noodles with squid would have thought this was very good, but it did not seem like something to waste the carbs eating. I also took an ear of corn from the barbecue section. This was a small half ear of corn and in the serving tray the corn was sitting in a white liquid which I believed to be milk to give the corn some sweetness or it could have been liquid butter like substance. Whatever it was, the corn kernals on the cob were mushy and off color - a whitish brown. I believe it was the corn that gave me stomach distress shortly after the meal...

I tried other things - the fried clams were as they always have been and good. The carved beef - Prime Rib? - was tender and tasty. The two pasta dishes - one in an Carbonara sauce and the other in tomato sauce were just OK. The meal was not living up to my expectations of a great birthday buffet. (And it has in the past.)

It was my birthday and I was going to have something for dessert. I was not going to over do it but something small. We both went up to look. There were a few hot desserts - bread pudding and a cobbler. There was apple pie. There was coconut cream cake. I like cupcakes and they had mini chocolate and mini vanilla cupcakes - both with a large pink swirl of frosting. I took one of the chocolate ones. I also eyes some chocolate chip cookies that looked good. I took one of those. My wife went over to take the bread pudding but there was no serving spoon. There was a woman behind the bakery counter and my wife pointed this out to her. The woman bent down to a bucket on the floor and pulled out a serving spoon that was not exactly clean. She took a cloth and wiped it off and handed it to my wife. The woman then took her gloved hand - the same one that was just in this bucket of dish water and put her hand into the tray of bread pudding and pushed what was in the back of the tray forward. My wife gave me a disgusted look and put the serving spoon down into the tray and walked away. My wife did stop by the salad bar to take some fresh melon. When she got back to the table and tasted it, the liquid it was in was sugar syrup. She did not eat it. I scraped the frosting off the top of my cupcake. It came off in one lump and the lump rolled on the plate. It was almost solid and it was not supposed to be. The cupcake was dry and overdone- and had little taste of chocolate. The chocolate chip cookie was full of chips but was hard to bite into - and not worth finishing.

This was not a meal or service that I expect from a Top Buffet. Was this a one time off night or has this buffet gone downhill since I was here last. Perhaps, it has.  At some point I am sure I will go back and see again, but not very soon. It is likely that the award we gave this buffet for 2012 will be the last it receives. And we looked for the certificate - so far every buffet that has received an award certificate from us has posted it prominently. Not here. The certificate was no where to be seen. My wife said maybe it is on the wall in the "office". More likely it went into the trash. Maybe that is better as no one should see that certificate after my experiencing the meal on this particular night. Well, I had a fun day for my birthday despite the dinner - but I should have headed south to Pennsylvania instead of north to Connecticut and had a really great birthday meal and any one of several "Top Buffets" there!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Return to the Easter Smorgasbord at IKEA

We have now gone full circle in the year and attended all of the Ikea store restaurant special one night seasonal smorgasbord dinners with the exception of the All You Can Eat Crayfish dinner in August. In mid-March we dined at the pre-Easter smorgasbord for the second year in a row. One thing that strikes us is the number of Swedish-Americans who are present dining at these meals - and enjoying every bit of it and talk of how well it compares to Swedish restaurants that they have been to in the United States, and even to the same foods that they have had in Sweden - and cooked at home by their grandmothers. When ever people of a culture that is the same as a restaurant dine there and praise the food - no matter whether it is a buffet or a menu restaurant, that indicates to me very positive things about the food. We are not Swedish so we only know that it tastes good to us - it is great to learn on the spot that it tastes right to the Swedish people who are eating it there also. And all this happens in a furniture store's cafeteria restaurant. These dinners require advanced purchase tickets and there are two seatings - one from 4 pm to 6 pm and the other from 7 pm to 9 pm. This dinner sold out weeks before. We had our tickets purchased in advance at the time of the Christmas dinner and we had the second (and our preferred) seating. There as a long line to get in at 6:30 when we arrived. The line got longer as it approached 7 pm and they started seating at 6:50 pm.

The menu at each dinner is very similar to each other with some seasonal variations. This Easter Smorgasbord was slightly different from the one we enjoyed last year. For one thing the cold shrimp that was missing last year was there in quantity this year. These were whole boiled shrimp with head on. They were not large shrimp but cocktail shrimp size. They were served with red cocktail sauce on the side. Many American diners do not like to see their food that natural and shun shrimp with the heads on. My wife who will only eat shrimp and no other seafood will not eat shrimp with the head on - even though all you need do is pinch the head easily off and what remains is the same peel and eat shrimp you get everywhere else. Many who enjoy shrimp with the head on will tell you to suck out the head as it is the best and tastiest part.  This year there was also one hearing variety missing from the three served last year. There was a hearing in cream sauce and a marinated hearing in a mustardy sweeter sauce. There was not the hearing in wine sauce as there was last year. There was also no steamed mixed hot vegetables but there was a large green tossed salad instead. There is so much else that these are not really missed. Also different from last year, the ham was served cold rather than carved hot.

Similar to last year the offerings duplicated on two long buffet tables set up down the middle of the dinning room were:

Assorted Herring
Hardboiled eggs with mayo and shrimp
Hardboiled eggs with herring roe or tångkorn
Shrimp with cocktail sauce
Marinated Salmon with Mustard Sauce
Smoked Salmon with Horseradish Sauce
Poached Salmon
Swedish Cheese
Tossed green salad
Cucumber salad
Red Beet Salad
Breads: Crispbread, several sliced breads,  Dinner rolls
Swedish Meatballs with gravy
Boiled potatoes w/dill
Swedish Ham with Mustard
Pinskov (sausages)
Gratäng Jansson
Fresh fruit
Assorted Swedish desserts and cookies
Fountain Beverages, Hot beverages

I have now come to find favorites and while I will try things I have not tried before, I concentrate my meal on those favorites. For me those are the herrings, the grave lax and smoked salmon, the poached salmon, and the Pinskov which are small sausages similar in texture and slightly similar in taste to hot dogs. I have said this in other articles. I do not like to eat cooked salmon. I enjoy raw salmon sushi and I love smoked salmon. I do not like the texture or taste of cooked salmon. I do, however, like the poached salmon that I have had here. On this dinner there were three, large, whole salmon put out on their own table.

Desserts were a bit different. There were large squares of yellow cake on a platter with a large tray each of lingonberry jam and strawberry jam next to it. There was also a large cold tray of vanilla pudding. Along with these were cookies with a chocolate filling inside an open heart and cookies with a jelly filling inside an open heart. There were also cans of whipped cream to top what you wished. I don't often take dessert, but I tried each and each was very good.  On each table there were bottles of a malt soda beverage (non-alcoholic) and at the counter there were individual cups of the same festive holiday beverage.

I left feeling overly full. There are foods here that I only get when I am at one of these, and I tend to overindulge.

What is remarkable for a restaurant that is not normally a buffet is that this little cafeteria restaurant and staff replace emptying platters immediately, are all over the dinning room taking empty dishes away from tables almost immediately, and keep the whole place spotless - and everyone has a smile and those smiles do not look just put on. Management comes around the dining room greeting and chatting with the guests. There are staff watching the buffet tables continually from beginning to end and there is never a platter empty. Toward the end of the night there is only one buffet table still open but that table is as full as it was at 7:00 pm! The food that is supposed to be hot is hot. The food that is supposed to be cold is cold. I know many full time buffets that cannot even come close to getting it this right.

During the evening there was a line at the cashier to purchase tickets for the next special smorgasbord dinner on June 15 - the mid-summer smorgasbord! This full dinner costs $12.99 per adult and $5.00 per child - now, get a free family card (available instantly at kiosks all over the store) and you only pay $9.99 per adult and $2.50 per child! Incredible! You can't buy lox (smoked salmon) in a store for less than that and here you have that and all the rest for all you care to eat.

These dinners are highly recommended and they happen at every Ikea location on the same nights. The next one is June 15 but do not wait until then to buy your tickets. Go to the Ikea restaurant and buy them at the cash register for the restaurant. And get that Family Card before you do!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Still the Worst Old Country Buffet

All the way back in 2006, I wrote about the worst Old Country Buffet, the OCB located in Levittown, New York. Since then, and have had comments emailed to me and posted on various OCB articles here agreeing with this assessment of this particular OCB. I have been back many times - generally when I am not able to get to the another OCB that is about twenty miles from here. There have been better times there - management at this location seems to change regularly. How this OCB operates is very dependent upon the manager there at the time and the employees. Of course, management and employees can make or break any restaurant - and particularly a buffet restaurant. When there has been more diligent managers things get better. When there have been different employees combined with better managers things get better - and there have been times here that that combination has made this location fairly good. But for some reason, good managers don't remain here very long - perhaps they get as frustrated as some of the customers get, and they are soon gone.

Things have been downward here again, and so many of the same things that made this the worst Old Country Buffet before are at the same down point now. This is based on not just one visit but a number of disappointing visits. I have been to Old Country Buffets in a number of States. All have been far better than this one. Now, there had to be something keeping me going back there other than convenience and for about a year or so that has been the Thursday night feature which had been - at least up until now - a few of the old favorites at Old Country Buffet. Long gone are the Barbecue Beef Ribs, but they have had - particularly here, barbecue smoked sausage and country fried steak. Both certainly not the most healthy things one can consume but as an infrequent indulgence these can be a forgivable sin. These are dishes not generally found in restaurants in this area, and for this indulgence I have been drawn to this OCB on some Thursday nights.

Over the past several months, the smoked sausage has been an on again and off again item on the buffet on Thursday nights. At one point we called and asked if it was on the buffet that night. What we were told was that it runs out early. Fair enough, but an item that runs out early because of popularity should be stocked in greater quantity. The night we called we were told that it was there on the buffet. We actually rushed on over. When we got there the tray was still half full - until a manager went up to the buffet and filled his plate with the remaining sausage and then sat down to have his dinner. Hmm. Another found no smoked sausage and another visit after that found another half full tray - and with no manager in sight, I made sure to get a portion before it was gone - but this should not be like this. The country fried steak and white gravy had been there on each visit - until this last visit, when that was gone also - and on an evening when it had been snowing through the day and the restaurant was far from crowded. But what gets put out instead here when something runs out. Well, meat dishes are replaced with potatoes or rolls. Rarely does an equivalent meat dish come out to take its place.

Now, this is not about not finding two particular dishes. This about a lot more than that. In that first article, cleanliness, the failure to refill empty trays of food items, and table staff who do not do their jobs were the key problems here. These all still exist - perhaps worse. Food trays go down to a few scraps or completely empty and sit empty for more than an hour. On one night the string beans - simple dish to prepare and replace - were empty on arrival. At the time we were ready to leave a new tray finally came out - barely cooked and almost raw. On another visit, an hour and a half before closing the carved turkey was gone - and never came back out - and no other carving replaced it. On one night there were scraps of pork ribs in the tray. Over an hour later more finally came out. Then there are the items that because of an attempt to get them out - or lack of it - come out undercooked or overcooked. Chicken needs to be cooked through - broiled chicken has come out undercooked. On the opposite end - fried chicken has come out so well done that it was impossible to bite or cut through. On one night, corn dogs were served one shade of brown lighter than black - and shriveled. And you ask who is watching all of this? Who is making sure that the food that comes out and assures that more food does come out, comes out properly cooked and promptly. There are managers - if they are around, but this all seems to be left up to the few employees who are responsible for things like carving, the Mongolian Stir-Fry, and tending to the soft serve machine. It is very evident here that there is not enough staff - and some of those who are here just seem to go through the motions. On more than one night, we have had empty dishes pile high on our table - and this is not just happening on our table. When we eat at a buffet, we do not pile one plate so high that you can not see what is there at the bottom. We both take small portions and then go back for more of what we want. We might go up five or more times during a meal and take another plate of small portions. At all of the buffets that I will recommend to my readers - and that is a lot - each of those dishes is taken away by the table server shortly after it is set to the side of the table. On one night, we sat down at a table that (along with the other tables in the section) had no salt and pepper shakers and no dish of sweeteners and sugar. None of the tables here had them - other sections did have them. The table server came over to wipe down the table and greet us. As it is supposed to be. I figured that he would soon be back with at least the dish of sweeteners - as we had purchased the additional $1.99 beverages, clearly marked on our table paper that the server signs at the bottom, and perhaps we were going to have coffee, tea, or ice tea. That was the last time we saw that server all night. He was off in another section and never came back. With a stack of plates piled about eight high including soup cups and salad plates, another server came walking past to his section, saw our plates and picked them up. Some more empty plates followed those on our table, and as we were just getting ready to leave, the original server showed up again, ignored the plates and put down a dish of sweeteners on our table along with a salt and pepper shaker. I have had poor service here and at other buffets, but this tops them all as worst.

To make things worse - on Thursday nights - Thursday has been, chain-wide, children eat for 99 cents. A nice gesture, but other than cotton candy at this particular OCB, there is little to no kid food other than the usual pizza. And, partially due to parents who do not control their children, and partially due to a restaurant management that only weakly makes announcements that children should not be away from their tables unsupervised rather than stay visible and tell the children who are running around wildly in the dining room and around the buffet tables to stop, the entire room becomes more of an uncontrolled playroom that a restaurant. Again, I have been to other OCBs and also Ryan's on Thursday nights when it is children's night and there has not been problems like this. I like kids, but here someone has to be in charge - and when it is not the parents (as bad as that is), it needs to be the proprietor of the restaurant - or someone falls, gets burned, or hurts someone else.

It is all too much! What would I do if I was running this OCB? I have said this before to people who have spoken to me about this OCB and agree with what I am about to say. For a manager to come in and take full control and make this a location that is desirable to come to, all employees need to go and need to be replaced with well screened new hires that would be kept as long as they demonstrated that they did their jobs well. This would allow the management to do what the management needs to do and that does not mean hide in their office or off the dining room/buffet table floor. I would also change the system here for informing the kitchen what is needed. There is an intercom here that is the only communication with the kitchen. Apparently, to actually go into the kitchen requires I don't know what, but no one in authority seems to go into the kitchen. They shout into the intercom - "we need more X, Y, Z" and at some point it is passed to the buffet area through a warming bin that opens on both sides. Now, what happens - the order for more X, Y, or Z is forgotten on the floor and never does appear in the warming bin - which results in another yell into the intercom - maybe - if anyone even bothers. At other OCBs, I have seen a manager look at the serving trays, go directly into the kitchen - you can see it is the kitchen as they open the door behind the buffet tables, and in a few minutes come out - hopefully, with what needs to be replenished. I can only wonder what is going on in the "secret" kitchen, that results in an hours wait to get basic items that should be cooking continually, per the crowd that is dining, back out onto the buffet. And many buffets when a night is slow, bring out smaller servings and make sure to keep more on hand in the kitchen to refill. Not here. One other thing that needs to be watched here is that the recipes are followed according to the OCB book. Often at this OCB, food is over spiced and over salted - to the point that it is inedible.

The Old Country Buffet in Levittown, New York is still the wort buffet in the chain. Will I go back? Certainly I am not going back to be disappointed on what is not there on Thursday nights any longer. I will likely give it some time and try it again to see if there has been any change for the positive, but on those occasions so far, the positives have been short lived.

There is another Old Country Buffet on Long Island, New York. It is in Bay Shore. It is a lot better than this one! If you are in this area, go there. Despite the drive, you will be happier.

Friday, April 05, 2013

A Trip to Shady Maple

Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl, PA celebrated its anniversary again this year during the second week in March. We had an opportunity to make a trip into PA and without a doubt we were headed to Shady Maple for dinner that night.

When Shady Maple has its anniversary week it has contests and special menu items each night. We were there on a Wednesday night and the feature that night was Prime Rib which is the usual Wednesday night feature. As part of the celebration there was a special additional dessert area set up in the middle of the dining room floor with scooped hard ice cream and a supervised chocolate fountain. It had been several months since we had been to Shady Maple - weather and such preventing our travel. No matter what was on the menu, I was eager to get there for dinner.

Shady Maple, as I have written so many times before, has an overwhelmingly large amount of good  food offered on the buffet. For the anniversary dinners, there was even more, with what may be duplicate items on both sides of the long buffet serving area replaced with additional items. There were eight soups on the buffet on this night. All were tempting and I could not resist trying two of them that I had not seen at Shady Maple before. One was a vegetable tortellini soup and the other was scallop chowder. The vegetable tortellini was a thick tomato based soup with garden vegetables and large cheese filled tortellini pastas. There was a lot of tortellini in the soup. It was very good. The scallop chowder was like a thin New England (white) clam chowder but instead of clams there was scallops - whole, large scallops. This soup had a excellent taste of the sea with a buttery flavor as well. There were a lot more scallops in the soup than there appeared to be just looking, as the white scallops were masked by the white broth. This also was a good soup. My wife tried the beef barley soup which is a favorite soup of hers and she liked it here.

When Shady Maple serves Prime Rib they don't just put out one Prime Rib - cooked however it came from the kitchen. They put out several Prime Ribs - cooked rare, medium, and well. They slice a thick slice of Prime Rib for you - as it would be served at a menu restaurant - which fills your plate. There is au jus gravy to ladle on top there at the carving counter. There is no bone - you are getting all meat. The Prime Rib was tender and juicy. I chose the rare cut and it was perfect. As I say, if you wanted a medium or well done cut it was there for you.

At the carving station they were also carving ham. I got to see the new chargrill, though there was nothing cooking on it this night. This was the one thing missing from Shady Maple and it is now there on the end grill station nearest the entrance from the lobby. Now, when there are steaks, they will be chargrilled - to order. I can't wait to get there on a steak night to try this!  The steaks served this night were "Smorgy Cheesesteaks" on of Shady Maples signature items served on certain nights and special occasions. These are made on a fry grill as they should be - thin sliced steak is grilled with onions and covered with cheese. steaks without cheese are also available. I take mine without the hoagy roll (long bread roll) so that I not fill up on bread. There is tomato sauce that can be added on request on top. These are good - Shady Maple's version of the Philly Cheesesteak and they are very popular. In this area, they know cheesesteaks.

On this night there were several fish entrees on the buffet. The cod cakes were excellent - think broiled crab cakes substituting the crab with cod. There was also fried pollock - fried in a batter coating. There was also a  shrimp Alfredo. There was really so much that it can't all be named here.

I always look for the PA Dutch dishes when I am at Shady Maple. There always is dried corn - a sweet and nutty tasting dried corned kernals cooked moist and delicious. There are also always buttered noodles which here are thin, flat short noodles cooked in browned butter. Another regular PA Dutch dish at Shady Maple is Pork and Sauerkraut - shredded pork cooked with sauerkraut - and is locally served on New Years Day.  My attention immediately went to the Chicken Bot Bie - an Amish/PA Dutch specialty - that is often but not always found on Shady Maple's buffet. This is large, doughy flat noodle dumplings stewed with chicken, carrots, potatoes, and celery in a thickened chicken stock. This is a filling dish and those that know it usually cannot resist it.  With a smorgasbord or buffet meal, it is best to limit what you take or feel that you ate way too much at the end of the meal. I know some people who make this the centerpiece of their meal.

Dessert is extensive and it is always worthwhile looking on both sides of the buffet area at both dessert sections to see more. There are always an extensive selection of cakes and pies, hot desserts, cold desserts, fruit, puddings, etc. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article in addition for their anniversary celebration meals there was also name brand, hard scooped ice cream (in addition to the usual name brand soft serve ice cream) and a chocolate fountain that was supervised by employees - a must for any chocolate fountain and rarely if ever done elsewhere.

I could go on and on. The Shady Maple meal never disappoints. We named them one of our Top Buffets for 2012 - and previously had been Best Buffet year after year. I was happy to see our Top Buffet certificate posted in the lobby with other commendation certificates awarded to this restaurant. The anniversary celebration is now passed but the meal will be wonderful here on any night.

Shady Maple is open from Monday to Saturday until 8:00 pm. The dining room is not shut down until 9:00 pm but do not arrive too close to 8:00 or you will not have time to really enjoy this buffet. 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!