Friday, June 20, 2014

Breakfast for Dinner at Old Country Buffet

We had a coupon for OCB good on a weeknight only. We usually avoid Thursday nights at OCB because it is Kids Eat for $1.99 night and while we like kids, we don't like kids running wildly around the restaurant completely unsupervised by their parents, but in the last several weeks - maybe longer Old Country Buffet has been sending emails saying that they serve breakfast at dinner on Thursday nights. This has intrigued me. We have never been to OCB for breakfast - pretty much because we don't eat a breakfast meal and the thought of a heavy breakfast buffet meal that early in the day just does not appeal to either of us. I do like breakfast foods and I thought that this would be an opportunity to get at least of sampling of the OCB breakfast buffet.

So we went on a Thursday night - to the good OCB a distance away. We arrived to balloons for Kids' Night and a lot of children but they were - for the most part controlled and behaved. This OCB has a griddle station that was specially built for the wok feature that has been gone now for about a year. It has been used for breakfast in the mornings but has sit empty at dinner. For Breakfast for Dinner the griddle station - two fry pans on portable conduction cook tops, a cold section of omelet fixings, a big bowl of whole eggs, and on the side kept warm a small try of bacon and a small tray of breakfast sausage. There was a young man behind the grill and every so often he was cooking eggs - mostly for kids. Out on the buffet, mixed in with much of the usual OCB dinner menu items which do not seem to change much from night to night any longer. (No matter what night and which of the two local locations, we find the same foods out each night - and one night when asked, the manager told another guest that he is told each day by corporate what food to serve that day and he has no control (unless, it seems if they run out of something and make a substitute - hopefully), anyway - out on the buffet three was a tray of pancakes, a tray of quarter round waffles, a tray of hot syrup, and a tray of hot what could be - butter sauce. I looked for some form of breakfast potatoes. I have seen these on the poster for breakfast in the morning. There were none. On the poster they talk about Country gravy for omelets, there was none. There were no muffins, breakfast pasteries, or anything else breakfast. Eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes, and waffles is what Breakfast for Dinner consisted of here.

Here it the surprise. I liked it! It was not necessary to order eggs to get breakfast sausages or bacon from the chef at the griddle. He was happy to give me all that I asked for and offered more. The waffles were not bad - thick and a little dry. I don't use syrup and I was trying not to add the melted butter. I went over to the cold condiments table and found a tray of butter that had been well scooped through and was full of extraneous other condiments so I skipped on that butter. The first pancake - these are small pancakes about three inches in diameter - was OK. I took another two later and these had been sitting for some time on the hot tray and dried out. One was edible, the other was solid and would not cut with a knife. I liked the sausages and went back for more of those - and again, the young man wanted to put more on my plate - which I actually gave in to as I was not resisting as I should. The bacon for the most part is good - it is real bacon, after all, but it is cooked in a fryer - like fried chicken which is a common way to cook bacon in bulk. The problem is that some of the bacon over cooks this way and burns so some of the bacon that I had could not be eaten. What I could eat was good. (I don't recommend overindulging in bacon unless you want to put a cardiologist's kid through college.)  The sausage was distinctly breakfast sausage in flavor and mild - slightly mealy but I liked them.

I added to the sausage, etc. some of OCB's usual meatloaf, mashed potatoes, string beans and such. This was certainly not a typical breakfast but more like a brunch but I was pretty happy at the end of dinner. My wife who does not eat any of this for her own various reasons, made do with the usual dinner entrees and sides. Gone were the Kid's Night foods - corn dogs and such. The ice cream mix banana split station - right next to the egg fry pans was serving the kids. I am not sure that Breakfast for Dinner - at least on this night at this location - was a big draw for the crowd who was there. I did not seen any adults getting any omelets or eggs. A few got sausages, as I was.  

Kid's Night features like the ice cream mix in ends at 8:00 pm at night and before that my wife asked if that meant that the breakfast would end then too - and at 8:00 pm the eggs were taken away and the griddle station was shut down - but the sausage and bacon trays were brought to the buffet table which is much better as now it was out for you to take yourself. They also refilled the pancakes and waffles.  

This was certainly not a carb-friendly meal and not something that I can do too often but I would like to go back. If you have no reason to watch carbs or fat, you can go all out. I would have liked to see more breakfast items out. We started to figure out what was missing from the usual dinner menu to make room on the buffet table for the breakfast items. There was no pasta in creme sauce. That was the most evident item not usually seen at dinner.  There was fried chicken, roast chicken, meatloaf, carved ham, steak, and roast beef. The usual side dishes and vegetables were out - mac and cheese, pizza, string beans, corn, carrots, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, the french fried potatoes that look like waffle fries but are too hard to bite into... And the usual desserts were out.

They don't say how long this will stay available on Thursday nights. I do miss Thursday BBQ nights that had beef ribs, etc. so many years ago in the long gone and long past. If you are partial to breakfast you might like this. I suspect that you get a lot more breakfast foods at the regular morning breakfast buffet. Years ago we used to go to a breakfast buffet that would start at midnight at a truck stop along Route 222 in Pennsylvania. We would be there on line waiting for it to open - having skipped dinner for only a snack earlier. That too is long gone. Even the building is gone! The OCB breakfast buffet was not as good as that but it was enough to remind me of it. My favorite item from that gone breakfast buffet is something that many find disgusting and many GIs from wars long ago found disgusting too and had a special name for it - abbreviated SOS - creamed chipped beef which there, I would serve myself over home fries. (Another cardiologist's delight!) Oh my. I half imagined before we walked into this OCB that it would be there - of course, it wasn't. This is not something in this area that you will find even in a regular restaurant or diner for breakfast. (I have seen it on menus in Pennsylvania. I should not eat it and especially not a full restaurant order of it.)

I leave it up to you to try or skip Breakfast for Dinner at OCB. I may find myself going back at some point, if it is still offered.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Temporary New Article Schedule

New articles will be running every other week with the next new buffet article appearing next week. This schedule will continue on a temporary basis for a few months and I will then make a decision whether I have enough new material to write about on a weekly basis again or continue longer on this new schedule. If something comes up that is timely I may post that in between, so look for articles or subscribe to be alerted when a new article comes out.  The free subscribe link is in the column on the right of the page.

If you would like me rather to post repeat articles from the past on alternate weeks - oldies but goodies - please send me an email and let me know. There is an email link at the right of this page. If you wish to post a comment instead, I will read your comment but not approve it to be posted. There is really no need for comments published that are personal communications to me. 

Thank you for your understanding.

Art of the Buffet

Friday, June 06, 2014

Rules of the Buffet

Once again, for the new buffet goers - and for the old timers -


1. All you can eat is not a challenge. It is an offer!

2. There is no limit to the number of times that you can go up and get food.

3. Take your food in courses - as you would be served if ordering from a menu.

4. Everyone must pay!

5. No food is permitted to be taken out of the restaurant.

6. Take only what you will eat - do not waste food.

7. For a more social meal, it is polite to wait for the others at the table to finish their plates and then go up together to get more.

8. Take a clean plate every time that you go up to the buffet tables.

9. If you put it on your plate, leave it there. Never return food to the serving tray.

10. Never eat at the buffet tables!

11. Children under 12 should not be going up to the buffet tables alone.

12. The buffet table is not a cafeteria line.

13. Tip the server.

14. Never take a serving piece from one item and use it for another item.

15. Never place your dirty plates on someone else's table.

16. Never use your silverware to serve yourself from the buffet trays.

17. Once you have gotten what you want, don't stand around the buffet tables. Move on back to your table.

18. Children should remain seated through the meal.

19. Do not fill community plates for the "table". Each should take their own plate of what they wish to eat.

20. If you cough or sneeze into your hand, please do not use that hand to pick up the serving utensils.

21. In the buffet, as in any restaurant, children (and adults) should use their inside voices.

22. Don't talk on your cell phone while you are getting your food at the buffet tables.

23. Never bring an animal into the buffet. (this is not referring to medical guide dogs)

24. Never put your hands into a serving tray.

25. Tell your children not to put their hands into a serving tray - and make sure that they do not!

26. Do not carry on a conversation throughout dinner with the people at the tables around you.

27. Do not put anything back into a serving tray that has dropped onto the serving counter - and never put anything back into a serving tray (whether from the counter or your dish) with your fingers.

28. Never put the serving utensil, whether it a spoon, fork, or tongs, up to your nose to smell the food that you have taken out of the serving tray.

29. Do not eat while walking with your plate back to your table.

If you take a plate, bowl, cup, or piece of silverware and you decide you don't want it, do not put it back on the stack of clean dishes or back with the clean silverware. Take it back to your table or put it on the side of the stack where it will not be taken as clean.