Friday, January 30, 2015


The Dutch-Way Family Restaurant located in Gap, Pennsylvania has been named Best Buffet for 2014. This is a buffet that we have been following for several years and have dined at several times in the year 2014 and it has consistently met every one of our criteria for a best buffet. This buffet has been consistently highly recommended in every one of our reviews.

Dutch-Way has never disappointed. It serves quality food at a very affordable price in very pleasant restaurant surroundings. The service staff have always been reliably good and in some cases outstanding. While not a large buffet, it has a selection of food that always introduces new dishes along with regular favorites.

Readers will find many reviews on this site for this restaurant that describe the various dishes that have been found here. There has always been something different - even out of the ordinary - served on the buffet and each time it has been something good - something that you would like to see again on another visit. But if that one particular dish is not there, another just as good has taken its place.

There are many, many buffets in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. This is the buffet that we want to go back to each time we are in this area and we often go more than once during the same trip. When there are others to choose and one goes back to one already visited within a week - that is saying a lot. We have not said that often about any one buffet. 

Those going to this buffet for the first time may be surprised when first walking through the door. Like some other buffets in Lancaster County, this buffet is connected to a food market on site - and this one shares the same building though the restaurant is completely separate on the opposite end of the building. While the decor is extremely nice, it is not lavish. If one is expecting row after row of buffet servers, one will not find that here. What you will find are three buffet servers in the middle of the buffet section - two hot and one cold, a grill area serving a different feature each night, and a wall that circles halfway around the section that includes a bread area, five soups, baked goods including cakes, cookies, and pies, a soft serve ice cream section with a sundae bar, and a cold prepared desserts area. The dining room consists of two sections plus private party rooms. The type of food that you will find is a mixture of local Pennsylvania Dutch foods combined on the buffet with continental dishes. The food is well prepared and kept in the buffet servers properly.  We look carefully at every buffet that we review that the food is what we call "well maintained" in its serving tray meaning consistently kept at the proper temperature and not allowed to dry out and Dutch-Way maintains the food on the buffet well. One must understand that "small" can sometimes surpass "large" and this buffet does exactly that.

We are very pleased with our choice for Best Buffet for 2014. It took a great deal of consideration and we as we had this in mind during 2014, during each visit we looked perhaps more critically at each point that is considered for a top and then a best buffet. In 2014, this was the Best Buffet.

When you go to Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in 2015, let them know that you read about them here. It is out of the usual tourist area but worth the trip - that is really not that far and very direct to get to. Dutch-Way also has the advantage that they also serve from a menu and if someone in your party does not wish to dine buffet they may order from the menu. The menu is just as reasonable as the buffet.

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.

Friday, January 16, 2015


It is time once again to name this site's best and top buffets. The results this year will likely surprise many of our regular readers. The criteria for being a Best or Top Buffet are, as they have been, the buffet must give excellent value, it must serve quality food, the food must be prepared properly, consistently, the restaurant must be managed properly, and the service must be good to excellent. And all of this must be consistent - meal to meal, visit to visit.  Then it must be a buffet that comes to mind to go back to whenever possible. When the process gets narrowed down to a few choices, they get ordered in priority of the criteria - and what starts to be examined is how consistent were they. Consistency is an extremely important factor and in the end becomes the deciding factor. A few favorites every so often disappoint. Some never disappoint. Every restaurant considered for best or top buffet has been visited several times over the course of the year.

The BEST buffet of 2014 is Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in Gap, Pennsylvania. This honor goes to this specific location of the two Dutch-Way Family Restaurant buffets in Pennsylvania.

The TOP buffet of 2014 is Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earle, Pennsylvania.

The BEST ASIAN Buffet of 2014 is Yummy China Buffet, East Meadow, New York. This is the first time that a Long Island buffet has been given any award from this site.

In the coming weeks there will be an article about each buffet and what brings their designated award to it. We will, at this point, speak briefly to the "Top Buffet" award to Shady Maple. As many know Shady Maple has been a Best Buffet for many years. Shady Maple is as good as it has always been. It is a restaurant that it is hard to compare other buffet restaurants to. None can compare to the size of the restaurant or the quantity or variety of foods served. It is the first buffet that we recommend anyone to go to when in Lancaster County, PA - because it is just that different. But - and this is not a negative "but" - more and more if both this and Dutch-Way, Gap are considered for a meal, Dutch-Way is chosen. It is small, has pleasant but simple decor, and does not have anywhere near the quantities and variety of foods that Shady Maple offers in one night. Telling someone who is looking for a "experience" though is going to find that more at Shady Maple and that what puts it the TOP of the list. Yet, Dutch-Way has been proving to be the BEST when it comes to different and sometimes, more unique food choices. Both are great buffets and are must go tos. Designating Top or Best when it comes to these two buffets takes nothing away from either one. Read the articles that will follow in the next several weeks about each and you will better understand.

Congratulations to these exceptional restaurants. There are many other wonderful buffets that were dined at this year (and a few not so good ones) and some others came very close to being on this list.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Another Golden Corral

I am pushing this article ahead of some important other articles to follow the Golden Corral article which has been running here over the past two weeks. Since our visit to the Freehold, New Jersey Golden Corral we went to another Golden Corral - one that we have been to before. We took a day trip to Bethlehem, PA for the Christmas events that take place there in the weeks before Christmas and for dinner we decided to drive up to Whitehall, PA to the Golden Corral - one that I have written about here before. We went on a Saturday night two weekends before Christmas. This Golden Corral is in the back of a shopping center and the shopping center was very, very crowded. We arrived at the Golden Corral at about 6:30 pm.

We went in to find barely a line. There was a larger line later after we had gone in. The restaurant inside was busy but not hectic. One thing that is most important to note is that the price of the buffet on Saturday night - UNLIKE the Golden Corral in Freehold, NJ - was the new, as advertised price of $11.99 ($11.49 for seniors). A sign showed all of the supposed features as it had in Freehold.

On the buffet there were more items than at Freehold and a broader selection of things I expect to find at Golden Corral. There were several types of potatoes including French fries, homemade potato chips, mashed potatoes and baked potatoes. One different item was Italian Sausage and Peppers which, while greasy, was good. The riblets were more like baby back ribs than riblets but there was not as much meat on each rib as baby backs usually have. They were not bad. Similar to Freehold there was someone carving the larger ribs and they were carving one at a time though putting more than one on your plate if you asked. There was pulled pork and that was very good. The meatloaf was of a much better consistency than at Freehold and it held together rather than crumble. It was slightly spicy.The steak was good. The first one that I had was more well than anything close to rare, but the second one was close to perfect. It was crispy charred on the outside and reddish pink inside. It was a nicely seasoned steak. Again, as in New Jersey, the sign said that this was the new "Founder's Cut" of steak. It was done much better than what i had in Freehold, and I really enjoyed the this steak!  The pot roast here was large thick slices of beef - perhaps almost a half inch thick with vegetables on the side. The only thing disappointing on the main buffet was the corn pudding which looked very good but turned out to be no more than cornbread with whole kernels of corn throughout.

The night was not without a minor problem and that had to do with the dishes and utensils. I have not had this problem at this Golden Corral before and perhaps it was crowds during the day from the shoppers coming in and the dishwasher could not keep up. There were two many plates and silverware that was not totally clean - as in coming out of the dishwasher too soon. It took some picking through the silverware (more than the dishes) to find ones clean. The dining room and the buffet were clean - as were the rest rooms.

One thing that can be a problem at buffets are the employees who are in charge of getting food out. There was no problem here until we got to dessert. This is a tale to be told - and I will tell it. I will say from the start that I let this go as long as it did because I was curious as to what the outcome would be and because we were not in any hurry and not eager to get back on the road and head home. OK - we went up to the dessert counter for dessert. Again, there was a sign about the "Vegas Desserts" and I still have to wonder what makes them think that a slice of apple pie or a small slice of chocolate cake is a "Vegas dessert". My wife wondered if it was their putting the chocolate pudding in cups with whipped cream on top. I really don't know but that is aside from our story. So, we went up to see what to have and there really was nothing very enticing. There were little individual pumpkin pies and I was tempted to take that but then I remembered the good bread pudding that I had had. The tray of bread pudding had a spoonful or two of crumbs and needed to be replaced. If I was going to have it, I would wait for a new tray to come out and have a worthwhile dessert. There were two people behind the counter and they were actively working to get desserts out to the counter. We went back to the table and waited. About three minutes later another diner went up and scraped out the pan that I passed up and now the bread pudding was completely gone. As I say, I was in no hurry and I waited. After about fifteen minutes I went up to see if I missed the woman putting out a new tray. No she had not. I caught her attention and I asked her if more bread pudding was coming out. "Yes, it is on its way." Fine. I went back to the table and kept my eye on what was taking place behind the dessert counter. Time passed and we were just sitting there. Our server came over and asked if there was anything wrong - or if she could bring us tea, coffee, o more soda. I told her exactly what was happening. She was very apologetic and she told me she would go find out what happened to the bread pudding. She was very nice. We watched her behind the counter talking to the woman that I had spoken to. There was a lot of discussion and she then came back to our table. She said, "I have good news and I have bad news", trying to smile. OK - tell me it all was my response. Well, it turned out that yes, there was more bread pudding coming out, but it was in the oven and it takes over an hour and ten minutes to cook. There was still six minutes left for it to complete baking. This was now almost forty minutes and at least thirty minutes since I spoke with the woman at the dessert counter. She never said that it would be coming out in any lengthy amount of time. Our server apologized again and assured me that if I still wanted it, it would be out very soon now. All together I waited forty five minutes for the bread pudding to come out. Again - I had decided to wait this out from the start. When it did come out it took another five minutes for it to cool to be placed out on the counter. I went right up and took a bowl. Our server saw that it came out and came right over to be sure I had it and commented that she hoped it was worth the wait. It was. Now, what does this tell me is wrong? What is wrong here is if it is early in the evening dinner service and something that takes over an hour goes out on the buffet another needs at that same time to go into cook - if not earlier. When one tray empties there should always be another ready to come out - whether this is the dessert station or the hot foods or the salad bar. And there should be a manager supervising to make sure that this takes place. During the course of this time a manager had been behind the dessert counter talking to the two people working there but it was obvious from the outcome that it did not make any difference. Management and the employees are the heart and lifeblood of a buffet restaurant. Usually Golden Corral is better than many others. Anyway - if you want bread pudding take it when you see it.

I have to make a special note about our server. Her name is Erin and she was excellent. She is the best servers we have ever had at a Golden Corral. She went above and beyond with us and all of the tables she was taking care of that night. I commend her and I hope that someone at Golden Corral corporate is reading this as this young woman deserves a raise! You can really tell when someone looks upon their job as something to get done and away from or really cares about doing a good job. Erin really cared about doing her job well.

Overall - good dinner. It was a good meal despite the dishwasher problem (as I say it has not been that way here before in OUR experience) and the wait for bread pudding (definitely a problem with the people behind the dessert counter not anticipating need). We are in this area infrequently and it will be many months before we will be back but we will be going back to the Whitehall, PA Golden Corral. 

This Golden Corral is located at 900 Lehigh Valley Mall Drive in Whitehall, PA 18052. The phone number is (610) 443-0866. The chain's website is linked on the side of this page. This restaurant is just northeast of Allentown, PA. If coming west on I78 it is easiest to go past to where I22 and I78 join and come back a short distance to the exit for the mall and this restaurant, rather than drive north through the streets of the City of Allentown.