Friday, September 26, 2014

Back to Oregon Dairy Country Restaurant and Buffet, Lititz, PA

This is the third time that we have been to Oregon Dairy Country Restaurant and Buffet in the six years when we first found it. This is a small buffet that shares a building with a supermarket in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Since our second trip there a year ago, it has been in the back of my mind to go back again and since we were in the area for several days we could go here and go to the "favorite" buffets that we usually go to. I was looking forward to coming back for a meal here and I was not disappointed.

This is a menu restaurant with a small buffet section consisting of a short wall with hot foods and entrees, two short buffet servers with salad and cold items - one with hot soup on one end, and one more short buffet server with dessert. The restaurant is connected on the side to a large ice cream stand that serves dairy made ice cream from the dairy on this property. The ice cream stand is popular and this alone draws a big crowd on warm nights.

While the restaurant/supermarket complex with ice cream stand is on a main road it is up on the top of a hill not easily visible from the road below. If one was not looking for this or did not know that there was a restaurant up there in addition to the supermarket, one would not know to stop. The customers here are very much local people who know this is here - and some dine here regularly.

We went on a Thursday night. There is a website with a menu for the buffet of featured foods for each night and I knew that there were certain nights that we would like more than others and Thursday was one of them. Like all of the other buffets in Lancaster this one closes at 8:00 pm and is not open on Sundays for lunch or dinner but is open for a breakfast buffet in the morning. When we got there, there was a line to get in. I had thought we were late - the evening was stormy and we drove into a short storm on our way which slowed down our arrival. We waited about ten minutes to be seated. This is not a tourist restaurant. As I say, this is very much a place for local families to go. The dining room is pleasant - there is a large model train that rides around a track just under the ceiling on one side of the dining room nearest the buffet. The decor is typically local family restaurant. The price for dinner was $12.99. Soft drinks are extra but are unlimited. The price for Friday and Saturday dinner is $13.99. There is a senior discount over age 65 of 10%.

The soups on this night were Cheese and Broccoli soup and New England Clam Chowder.  The Clam Chowder had chunks of clams in a white cream broth with potatoes. It was very good. The salad bar is an assortment of salad toppings and lettuce to put it on, a variety of dressings, and some prepared salads. Our waitress made a comment when we ordered the buffet that if we started on the soup and salad and then decided that we only wanted that for dinner and not the whole buffet, we should just let her know and she would change the price on our check down to the $7.99 Soup, Salad, Dessert Bar. Obviously, she did not know us and our eating at buffets - but apparently many start and feel that they are happy just with that and don't wish to go for the entrees and side dishes.
We finished our salads and we straight for the hot foods.

The menu on the buffet on this night reflects what was on the list on the website but they always add other dishes to that as well. Chicken dominated the dishes with Chicken Bot Bie, Creamed Chicken, and Seasoned, Baked Chicken. One of the restaurants well know dishes is Fried Smoked Sausage - deep fried. This was on the buffet. There was also Pork and Sauerkraut, Ham Balls with Pineapple Sauce, and Hawaiian Meatballs. The Ham Balls in Pineapple Sauce and the Hawaiian Meatballs seemed redundant, but they were different in taste. There was also broiled Talapia, Sliced Ham, and Stuffed Peppers - stuffed with chopped meat and rice. There were mashed red potatoes, boiled potatoes, carrots, and mixed vegetables. There are no carvings on this buffet. Much of this is typical Pennsylvania Dutch local specialties - common to find in this Amish and Mennonite Pennsylvania German region. (OK - an aside - Pennsylvania Dutch - Pennsylvania German - so which is it? Pennsylvania Dutch is an Americanization of "Pennsylvania Deutsch" - Deutsch is German for German.)

The Chicken Bot Bie - a local dish that you have read about here many, many times - and one of both our favorites was very good. This is a dish of chicken meat pieces in a thickened broth with potatoes, thick and large dumplings, and carrots. The Creamed Chicken was also good - what some restaurants would call Chicken Ala King - chicken meat in cream sauce with carrots, etc.. The Seasoned Baked Chicken went fast and once it was gone, it was replaced with seasoned corn. I never had corn called seasoned before and had to try it. It had Italian seasonings on it. It was interesting and unusual. The Pork and Sauerkraut was bland and was the only disappointing dish on the buffet. The Fried Smoked Sausage is a bit of an acquired taste and the first time that I had them three years ago, I did not care for them - as I did not really understand what they were. On our second trip here a year ago, I learned what it is and tried it again and liked it - and it was one of the foods that I was looking forward to having here - thus the preplanned specific nights we might come and Thursday is one of them that has the sausage.

While some other buffets have many more dishes to offer in one night, this small buffet satisfies with what it has - providing you like what is on the buffet on the night that you go. The food is good. It is fresh and the buffet was well tended - meaning someone was out making sure nothing dried out and all that should remain hot was hot.  Service was also very good and the waitress kept coming around to take away used plates, check on drink refills, and reminding us that a scoop of their diary ice cream is included in the buffet along with the other desserts.

For dessert aside from fruits on the salad bar, there are pies, cakes, prepared desserts, and hot cobbler  - on this night it was hot cherry cobbler. And there is one large scoop of any of the many flavors of ice cream that comes to you direct from the ice cream stand outside. There were so many flavors it was hard to decide and I was set on having a scoop. I finally decided on coconut almond fudge ice cream. My wife was not having any ice cream and the waitress offered me my wife's scoop as well. I passed on the second scoop - not because I did not want it - I wanted it, but that would have been pushing how much of what I should not eat too far. The waitress goes through a door on the side of the restaurant that leads into the ice cream stand and then comes back with a single scoop that overflows the bowl and is well above the top. The coconut almond fudge is a flavor that I have never had before - it was vanilla ice cream full of shredded coconut with almonds and chocolate fudge swirled through. It was good!

Do not go expecting a gala buffet. This is a simple buffet with simple farm food in a simple but very nice restaurant. I will be going back. Will I choose this buffet over some of the other buffets that I have written so much about in Lancaster County? It will depend on my mood. I like this buffet, I like the local atmosphere, I like being away from the tourists - especially in the "season", and I like the food. 

The Oregon Dairy Country Restaurant and Buffet is located at 2900 Oregon Pike (Route 272) in Lititz, PA 17543. The phone number is (717) 661-6804. There is a website and that is listed on this page at the side of the articles.While this is the town of Lititz it is not near the center of what is thought of as the town of Lititz (where the old pretzel bakery and the Moravian settlement is located). It is also on the top of a hill with a large up hill driveway from Route 272. As you get up into the parking lot, the restaurant is on the left, the supermarket part of the building is on the right, and the dairy/ice cream stand is on the far left. There is a little playground and "park" near the ice cream stand.

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