Friday, May 23, 2014

Island Buffet. Baldwin, NY

Last week I wrote about a new Asian buffet that opened in Baldwin and I mentioned that I had set out for another buffet thinking that it was the buffet that I wrote the article about. I said in that article that I would go to that other buffet at some point and we did.

This may be one of my strangest articles because we did go to this buffet and we walked out. Here is why.

We went on a Friday night and arrived at about 7:40 pm which for some buffets is late but this buffet is open to 11:00 pm. The parking lot behind the buffet was not very crowded. We walked into the restaurant through the parking lot entrance in the rear of the restaurant. We walked down a long hallway to the front of the restaurant. This hall was clearly recently redecorated which all of the restaurant was when it opened after the long closure of a previous Chinese buffet that had been in this location some time back. There was an odd odor in the hall - I really don't know what but it was not a food smell and while not overwhelming, it was not pleasant. Once out of the hallway you are in the front of the restaurant and walk right up to the host's station from where you will be seated. Unlike the buffet I wrote about last week, you do not pay here when you enter.

There was a young woman at the desk - I really hesitate to call her a woman as she could not have been more than 18 - perhaps younger. She was not Asian. I looked around for a sign with the prices for the buffet and there was none. I was not taking any chances and I politely asked what the dinner price is. She hesitated and and "ummed", and eventually said very uncertainly - "for tonight it is $10.99". There was a great deal of noise in the restaurant - mostly very loud music that was o loud I could barely hear what she was saying. Anyway, that price was what I had expected and I said fine. I told her that there were two of us - as there were two of us standing there - and I expected her to walk us to a table. But she just stood there behind the desk and started mumbling something about it being crowded and pointed at an area behind us in the front open window with several empty tables and saying something about sitting there - again, the noise and music was so loud I was not sure if she was telling us to sit there or to wait there until she had a table in the dining room was appeared to be off somewhere to the side of what looked like a large buffet room - which I noted was absent of people walking around getting food - which I expected being this young woman was telling us how crowded they were. Because I could not really hear what she was saying, I asked her what she was trying to tell us. She then said, "Do you want to sit over there?" and pointed to the window. (The window is wide open to a very busy avenue with people walking on the sidewalk and sitting in the window one is fully in view of all that pass by. I said, "No, we don't want to sit in front of the window." Now she mumbled some more and said something about a small table against the back wall in the dining room." I had to be sure of what she said and I repeated that to her. She mumbled some more and said something about this small table in the corner against a wall - somewhere. And she just looked at us with a dazed look. I started to feel that if this meal is starting out this way, perhaps it would be better to avoid all together. I have never really encountered anything like this before. There seemed to be an Asian gentleman behind a cashier's desk about ten feet from where this was all taking place and he just ignored what was happening with this young woman (I so much want to say "this kid" because she acted and looked so much more as a kid than a young woman - yet this was not someone a restaurant should have as the first person meeting and seating their guests.) She was not saying anything that she should have been saying such as "If you don't mind waiting a few minutes, a table should clear shortly." She was not saying anything - and she spoke perfect English - well as perfect as today's "kids" speak. I just felt that we should go - and I looked at her, and politely told her to forget it and that we were leaving. She did not seemed surprised. She did not offer to look for a table in the dining room or ask us to stay for her to do so. She just stood there and we turned and walked back to the long hall with the odd smell and left.

This is not what a restaurant should be doing when big competition has opened practically across the street just weeks ago. We got in the car and went back to the Flaming grill Buffet that I wrote about last week, which by the way was truly crowded and bustling and yet we were seated in the main dining room with no wait. We had another excellent dinner and had no regrets leaving the Island Buffet.

Will the same happen to you if you go to Island Buffet in Baldwin, New York? Frankly, I don't know. I can't figure what was going on. If the restaurant was so crowded why was there no one - and I mean no one - at the buffet tables? If there was a wait for a table in the dining room, why not just say so and ask if we minded waiting? (I probably would have waited.) It was just bizarre. Will I go back again after this? Highly unlikely. Do I suggest that you go to the Island Buffet? Simply - no.


ML said...

It is truly strange of your experience, my wife have been going there quite regularly since it reopened as the Island Buffet.

First of all I think the funny smell in the long hallway was the smell of the polyurethane which probably hasn't fully cured yet.

The newly reopened buffet has had great food and great service in the past and all the employees have been Asian so I have no idea who this other girl was nor have I seen anyone other than Asians.

We haven't been at the new Flaming Buffet yet, but I think you should give Island another chance based on my recommendation and experience we've had in the past.

Also, you mentioned loud music? Was there a party going on, because there has never been any music that I can recall

Writer said...

IT was a bizarre experience. This young woman (kid) was possibly Hispanic and was "in charge" of the host station - just as I wrote in the article. It was a Friday evening in May. Yes, there seemed to be a party going on as there were a lot of girls running in and out of the center room into the front behind the host station.

It is going to take some time to get us to go back and try this buffet. When I go out to dine, I want to relax, not have to stress over getting a table at a local Chinese restaurant. Had the Asian gentleman a few feet away at the cashier been paying any attention and come over, perhaps things might have transpired differently, but he ignored what was going on - and our encounter with this girl went on for about ten minutes before I said goodbye. And then it was so strange that a supposedly over crowded buffet had absolutely no one in the buffet serving area getting anything.

ML said...

I'm tempted to saw them this review and hear what they have to say

Adrina Rodriguez said...

I believe I am the young hostess you are referring to in your review. First I would like to apologize greatly for your experience! Unfortunately, as I serve many people everyday, I don't remeber you specially (perhaps if you give me an exact date I might remember better), but nevertheless I'm still very sorry if I caused you any stress or made your experience horrible. It may have been a bad day for me that day and maybe I was a little off because normally I don't serve costumers that way. If you come and try the buffet againI can assure you you'll be treated much better than the last time!

ML said...

My wife and I went to Island buffet for lunch yesterday and as I said before, I showed your review to the person behind the front desk and I left it with him and I told him to read it and I would like his take on what you experienced when we leave.

I did see the attractive young girl who I thought was new because I never saw her before, but the gentleman said she has been with them for years (maybe they had other locations?)

After our meal, as we past the desk I went to the person I spoke to and he said he did read the review in full but that he was unaware of any problem (but maybe he wasn't at the desk on the night you went?)He did say that there was a large party on May 23.

The smell he asked me if we smelled anything and I told him we did not (again I think it was the poly curing) then he asked me if I knew you, and I said no I didn't, because its a blog, anyway at that point I thought or expected him to say something like, here's my cell number have him call me when He plans on coming back again, and I will make amends but he did not he just thanked me for the article and we went on our way.

I must also say that my we went to the Flaming Buffet last weekend and it was very nice but we both felt it was very salty we were drinking water all night long when we got home. The biggest disappointment with FB was the awful desert cakes they were both dry and tasteless and the Dixie cup ice cream was also a letdown.

On the otherhand the IB has apple cobbler and banana cake and their ice creams are help yourself buckets of rainbow sherbet-cookies and cream-choc. fudge-butter pecan-strawberry pistachio and chocolate chip mint, nothing even close to what is offered at FB. I was also a little disappointed when I gave them the card we received by pennysaver of the 10.99 price, but they did not honor it because that special was only for the month of May, but I showed them that the card had no mention of a expired date, no big deal but they should have honored it but we will go back again. Hopefully the desserts are better.

In the meantime, I still think you should give IB another shot and see what happens, I'm sure it will much better for you.

Writer said...

There is a lot of effort being invested here in "this buffet is better than the new kid down the block" and with a comment sent from a restaurant employee too - when this happens I am always suspicious. It gets to be more than just a reader commenting that they have a different opinion and here it is. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect that.

What has happened here now is that even if I wanted to go back right now, I can't as anonymity is extremely important to what I do on this site. If I do go back and give this buffet another try - heck to just get through the front door and to a table - it will not be for quite some time, if at all.

daivd dong said...

Hi I am the manager of IB. I am so sorry for your bad experience at my buffet. Maybe I was busy focusing on the kid's party and kept them in the room on that night. However I will be aware the music for the party room in the future. Again I am so sorry. Should you encounter any problems during your next visit, just ask me for and I will help you out. Looking forward to seeing you again!