Friday, May 02, 2014

OCB's Two Day Easter Feast

Old Country Buffet this year had a two day Easter "Feast". It started on Easter Saturday and went though Easter Sunday. The meal featured carved ham and carved Prime Rib and the price was raised to $13.99 for this buffet meal.

We decided to go on Easter Sunday. The meal was being served all day until closing and we arrived at about 6:30 pm. There was a short line to get in and once we paid we waited about three minutes to be seated. The restaurant was crowded but not much more so than a usual Sunday at this time. Before we went I wondered if OCB was really serving Prime Rib or if they were cutting their usual Roast Beef to appear to be Prime Rib. I hoped for real Prime Rib as it is a favorite. When we were seated the first thing that I did was go past the carving station and saw what looked from the distance to be Prime Rib - boneless, but most Prime Rib served at buffets are. I also looked around to see what else might be special for this Easter dinner that I just paid $13.99 each for along with $2.29 each for soft drinks. This was the most expensive meal price that I have ever paid at an OCB and add tax and tip on top it gets even more expensive. There did not appear to be anything else being served that was any different from any other Sunday at OCB - later, I did find that they had an Easter sheet cake out for dessert - a single layer yellow cake with green frosting with green colored coconut on top and a few jelly beans on each piece. The usual price at this OCB for Sunday dinner is $11.99 and for seniors, $10.49. Were we paying $2 or $3.50 more just for Prime Rib or for the privilege of their being open on Easter Sunday?

We dine at OCB fairly regularly for Sunday dinner. Everything that is usually there on Sundays was there for this "Feast". The Prime Rib - and that cake - were the only additions. After soup and salad, it was time to go up for Prime Rib. As I was waiting on the short line while the carver was slicing Prime Rib, turkey, ham, and steak for those in front of me, I saw that he was shaving off thin slices of Prime Rib. He was carving less than he usually does when he carves Roast Beef. No, this would never do! When I got up to him, I asked for a "thick" slice. He obliged and cut off a piece about three eights of an inch thick, not as thick as a usual slice of Prime Rib even at a buffet, but more than anyone else was getting. He put it on my plate and I saw that it looked a bit odd in the middle and at the bottom.The top looked as expected but not the rest.  I added a baked potato to my plate along with some green beans and headed back to the table.

Back at the table, I looked more closely at the bottom and middle of the slice. It was slightly pink in color with grey but it did not really look like beef. It was smooth on both sides and seemed dense. The top was just right. There was a coating of way too much salt, pepper and what seemed to be the seasoning used on OCB steaks. Below that charred coating was a layer of fat - again, as expected with Prime Rib and below that fat meat that looked as it should with the appearance and texture of beef. I wondered if the top looked like this, what the heck was going on with the rest.  The texture of the middle and bottom of the slice - the entire slice - was more like ham than beef. It chewed like ham and was dense like ham. The taste was fairly neutral - beef-like is the best way to describe it. The top - which as I say looked right (and good) tasted just like Prime Rib. What type of cut of beef was this? The only way to describe what this is like is to say that it was very similar to a certain roast beef fast food chain's roast beef used on their sandwiches - not exactly beef but a beef formed together, not looking like roast beef, not having the same texture as roast beef, and not having the same taste as roast beef. Could this be like that? I have no idea, but it was unlike any Prime Rib that I have ever had and I have had Prime Rib from fine restaurants and every day buffets. Never before had any have the texture of what this had below the top eighth of the meat. I very much enjoyed the top, but the rest was chewy and a great disappointment - and it raised the price of dinner!  Just in case it was this one roast that was out when I first went up, I did go back for a second piece. I asked the carver again for a "thick" slice of Prime Rib and he carved a slice about as thick as the first. Again, it looked just like the first - and when I ate it, this piece was exactly like the first - some odd cut of Prime Rib - if Prime Rib REALLY was what it was.

There was no rush for Prime Rib at the carving area. Most people were taking ham, turkey, or steak - getting just what they would have gotten on any Sunday for dinner for less money. Those that got the Prime Rib had slivers of it put on their plates. Real Prime Rib could not be sliced that thin. This one slices smoothly into paper thin slices.

I seem to be having a run of disappointing buffet meals lately. It happens sometimes and when it does I have to discuss it with my wife who shares these meals with me to see if it is me being too critical or is what I am experiencing exactly as it is. With this - and the rest of the recently disappointing buffet meals, she agreed that they were, indeed, disappointing. I was looking forward to Prime Rib. I was ready to find just Roast Beef, but what I found - well you know what I found.

So what is the story Old Country Buffet? What was this meat that you called Prime Rib? Where is the new quality that Ovation Brands, Inc - parent company of OCB - and its president James Weedo are promising now at OCB in the foods that they serve. It was not here for this special Easter "Feast" - at least as far as the Prime Rib that raised the price of dinner is concerned.


ML said...

I'm really surprised you continually go to OCB expecting something that would actually make this place better.
We have stopped and don't expect to go back, for what they charge and what we get is a joke

Writer said...

We actually go to OCB quite often. While their "specials" like the Easter "Feast" can be disappointing, the regular nights are usually OK. Here,if one wants an "American" buffet, OCB is it. And we find it easier and more affordable(for us)in price to eat at buffets than at any menu restaurant here including diners.

Anonymous said...

It appears they cooked it wrong. We served awesome prime rib all day, and it was taught that we were to cut it thicker then we normally due roast beef because that is what is expected for prime rib. Also, they were suppose to serve peel and eat shrimp on the salad bar. The cost of these 2 items and the fact that yes, Easter is a Holiday, an up charge should not be considered in appropriate. I have wrote to you in emails many times and don't always take the company side on things we due, but this time I think this restaurant let you down, not the company. Thanks for having this forum.

Writer said...

There was no peel and eat shrimp here. And the Prime Rib was certainly not as expected as I wrote. I know from OCBs that I have been to in other states that there can be a very vast difference from what the two are here.

I appreciate your emails and giving me and our readers a chance to see inside OCB.

Anonymous said...

I had their prime rib in Whitehall PA and you were right on. it was overcooked mystery meat. Very disappointing for 13.pp