Friday, November 20, 2015

Back To KFC Buffet, Williamsburg, Va

It has been two years since we have been to the KFC Buffet in Williamsburg, Virginia. For those who do not know, in some parts of the US, KFC restaurants (Kentucky Fried Chicken) have buffets. I have only been to one. This one in Williamsburg, Virginia. I have seen one other in Virginia - there may be more, and I know that they are scattered around the country.

These are done in the regular fast food take out/eat in KFCs and are set up in part of the front counter. This one has two counter sections. One is a cold section with prepared salads including coleslaw, pickles, and cold desserts like banana pudding. The other is a hot section with fried chicken - here both regular KFC and extra crispy and a variety of hot vegetables and side dishes. There were dinner rolls and there was warm corn bread. There was also a hot dessert that I will talk about later.

The one big difference in the past two years is the price. The KFC buffet here went up in price from our first visit when it was $7.99 to now, $10.99. At $7.99 and even a little more, this was a great deal - especially as at that time, the cost of ordering three pieces of chicken with sides would come out to more than the price for the entire buffet. At $10.99 you come within a dollar of the price of dinner now at Golden Corral - and while the Williamsburg Golden Corral is not great, there is another Golden Corral a twenty minute or so drive away in Newport News. At other buffets around this price you are getting everything including fried chicken. Here you are getting fried chicken and sides. Is that bad? No. What I am saying is the price for the KFC buffet is not as attractive as it once was. It still is a better deal than ordering from the menu board - as you can keep going up and truly eat all the fried chicken that you care to eat. For us, it is something different, as we don't generally go to any KFC.

Soda is ordered separately and you go up to the machine just like at most fast food restaurants and get your own soda as many time as you like. There is no one in the restaurant to come and clear your plates away. You need to do that yourself and there is no one that is going to bring you a soda refill - you do that yourself as well. But you can go up to the counter and ask for a clean plate as many times as you like. You are given two plates to start with one large and one small - both made of Styrofoam. You are asked to always use a new and clean plate each time you come up to the buffet sections. You just go up to the register - no need to wait in line - and ask for them (and you get one at a time). You may need to show your receipt for the buffet each time if it is crowded. Of course, if there is a line when you get there, allow the cashier to finish taking someone's order before you break into the line. So far in the times that we have been there, there have been no protests by other customers waiting about this. Perhaps they are used to it at a KFC buffet. Pretty much, if there is anyone behind the counter and you can catch their attention, they can give you another plate.

The food is KFC - no different. You are not going to get any of the special KFC menu items. There is no grilled chicken - though once when we were here, someone asked for that on the buffet and they were handed a plate full of it. Trays keep being refilled. Everything that is supposed to be hot is hot and everything that is supposed to be cold is cold.  As I have said in the past, if you don't like KFC food, you will not like the KFC buffet.

Now this hot dessert. It was a tray in the hot food section and we both thought, when we saw it, that it was a meat dish of some kind. It looked like a try of meatloaf. It was a grayish brown, and was somewhat scored as squares. It was not meat. It was a dense, gooey, sweet cake-like dessert that had a taste of cinnamon and molasses.  We asked what it was and were told it is "Fried Pudding". Neither of us have ever heard of Fried Pudding before - perhaps it is a common Southern dessert. All we knew was that it was very sweet and rather good. It was not fried banana pudding which I see recipes for. There was no bananas in it - if there was I would have known right away, as I do not like the taste of bananas.

We both rarely eat fried chicken. We both enjoy this buffet. We have made this a must stop at when we are in this area - which is not often. There are not many buffets in this area any longer. Several of the Asian buffets that were once here have closed. This one is fun, totally informal, and a decent meal - if you like KFC fried chicken. It is probably the most fried chicken that I eat at a single meal all year. I have never regretted it afterward. I have enjoyed it every time.

To find out where KFC buffets are, the KFC website now has buffet listed as a filter on their locations finder on their website - Just put in a zip code and check buffet on the top of the page and any near there - or none - will come up.  (And in checking on this, I just discovered that there is one near me now - about twenty miles away that does not involve any bridges, tunnels, or toll roads...

The KFC Buffet that we went to is located at 1545 Richmond Road, Williamsburg, VA 23185. Their phone number is(757) 229 - 7212.

Friday, November 06, 2015

The Best of the Best

Our pick for the Best Buffet for 2014 was Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in Gap, PA. We have been there a number of times this year and find that the night that I like the best at the Best Buffet is Tuesday nights. All of the nights are good - but I particularly enjoy dinner there on Tuesdays the best.

This is the night when I find the most Pennsylvania Dutch foods mixed in with always good standards. We were the area again recently - and picked Tuesday for the night that we would go to Dutch-Way. The feature on Tuesday nights is not fancy - it is burgers made to order topped the way you like them and also hot wings, both at the Grill. On the buffet on Tuesday's there tends to always be Chicken Bot Bie (Chicken Pot Pie - stewed with large noodles, not baked in a pie shell), Dutch Loaf, Ham Balls, Pork and Kraut, and more. Simple. Plain food which this region is known for - Pennsylvania Dutch cooking of the Plain People. The burgers are an extra thrown in for a very enjoyable meal.

Now, I can't talk about the Wings from personal tasting, as I don't care for hot wings and small chicken legs and wings tossed in sauce and spice don't interest me - or my palate. But I have watched people go up to the Grill on a Tuesday night and order platefuls of these. The chef behind the counter puts the cooked and hot chicken in a bowl and tosses it in the sauce or seasoning that you request from a list - and if you want more than one "flavor", he just tosses more in other bowls - and then all goes onto your plate. Watching them eaten at other tables, I am certain that they are good from the reactions of the dinners. But for me, I don't care for them in general.

The burgers always interest me. You order your burger by filling out a paper at the Grill Counter. There is a sign listing specifically put together burgers each with a different combination of toppings, but you can just ignore that list and put together on the paper by checking off boxes of ingredients exactly what you want. Of course, there is bacon - lately a burger has to have bacon - but if you don't care for that leave it off. There is even a fried egg that can top your burger. You order it cooked the way you like it from rare to well done. You can top the toppings with sauces, lettuce, and tomatoes. It all gets cooked for you and put on a bun. I order mine without the bun. I would rather leave room for more interesting things from the buffet tables than a burger bun.  On the menu here - and in other restaurants - one of these burgers could easily cost you the price of the buffet - and here you could order as many as you like for just one price and have the entire buffet to go along with it.

Then, of course, there is the buffet. On this particular night, aside from the PA Dutch foods that I named above, there were ribs, lasagna, a pumpkin casserole, a vegetable casserole that was very good, fish, fried chicken, and more. As always there are five soups, a large salad bar, and a big dessert bar that spills over to one of the hot buffet servers where there are hot desserts.

I have my favorites on the salad bar also. They have the most wonderful chicken salad. I have sometimes considered just ordering the soup and salad bar for dinner as I could make a meal of this chicken salad. They also have chunks of Lebanon Bologna. This is a cured, dark pork meat with visible, tiny pieces of fat with a smokey, slightly sweet taste. This is a cold cut known in the Pennsylvania Dutch Country - originating in Lebanon County, PA. I have not found this on any other buffet in the area. It may be an acquired taste, but it is good. And if you go out to purchase this locally it is quite expensive for a cold cut. Here it is intended to go into a salad, but I just take the junks and eat them. The chicken salad and Lebanon Bologna are not limited to just Tuesdays.

We dined in a different buffet every night on this trip but this Tuesday night at Dutch-Way was a stand out meal. For Dutch-Way, which is the best, this is the best of the best. Other nights there are good selections also - Thursday is Seafood Night (at their highest price for the buffet) and Friday and Saturday feature Prime Rib, Ham, and Baby Back Ribs.

Service was excellent - and we knew it would be from the moment we were shown our table as our waitress/server was Marie who we have written about before as the BEST buffet server at any buffet anywhere.  This is a young woman who makes you feel welcome and appreciated as a customer and always comes across as enjoying her work.

So, Dutch-Way Family Restaurant on a Tuesday - best of the best. Try it. This is a local restaurant off and away from the main tourist areas and is there for local people including Amish and Mennonites who are seen dining here regularly. Nice decor. Very clean. It also gets excellent reviews from the usual restaurant review sites. Don't go looking for a touristy restaurant. You will not find it. To me that is a good thing and a very strong plus. Others seem to want the tourist hype.

The Dutch-Way Family Restaurant is located at the Dutch-Way Farm Market Supermarket at 365 Gap Newport Pike (Route 41), Gap, Pennsylvania 17527. The buffet is served from 4 pm to 8 pm Monday to Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays. The restaurant is closed on some holidays. This is about two and a half miles south of Route 30. There is a web site and that is linked at the side of this page. The phone number is 610-593-6080.