Friday, June 19, 2015

A New Golden Corral - And In of All Places, Lancaster, PA

A year ago we were in Lancaster and saw construction starting on Route 30 in the middle of hotels, restaurants, and Dutch Wonderland amusement park for small children. On the next visit to the area there was a sign announcing the coming Golden Corral restaurant! This area, if you regularly read this site you already know, has more buffets than any place else. There are many local buffets, there are Asian buffets, there are buffets that serve fancy and there are buffets that serve plain - "plain" in the sense of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking of the Plain People. There is also a OCB. The nearest Golden Corral has been in Lebanon, Pa and now Lancaster has its own.

We were in Lancaster on a Sunday night recently. With all of these buffets here, few are open on Sunday. This is a religious community and the local buffets employ a lot of Amish and Mennonites and these restaurants close of Sundays. We tend to avoid this area on Sundays because of this. I could think of no better a choice for this particular Sunday than to try the new Golden Buffet.

We went with a pre-understanding that since this was Sunday of Memorial Day weekend we might be walking into a big crowd with a restaurant buffet overwhelmed by tourists. What we actually found when we got there - despite a completely full parking lot - was that there was no line and the restaurant while crowded was handling the crowd extremely well.

The price was $12.99 for dinner - no difference in price weekdays or weekends. This is one dollar more than the Golden Corral advertised price of $11.99 and one dollar less than the weekend price at the Golden Corral that I have written about that opened a year ago in New Jersey. There is a senior discount. The price for soft drinks is $2.29.

We were shown our table promptly and our server - a young man came over to introduce himself. He was very good - and came around frequently to ask if all was well and if we needed anything. The food featured promotion going on was ribs with KC Masterpiece Barbecue Sauce. The food on the buffet was properly kept - well maintained, as I say. Nothing was left to dry out. Trays were replaced as needed. The food on the buffet was pretty much standard in selection to Golden Corral with one exception. There was a tray of a local PA Dutch dish - Chicken Pot Pie - not baked chicken pot pie - but chicken stewed with dumplings and vegetables in a thick sauce. This was a surprise and other than being over salted was good.

I like the steak at Golden Corral. It is thick and you are served an individual steak - while not a full size cut, quite sufficient especially when you can go back for more. There was no wait at the grill and the grill chef asked how I wanted my steak - "Rare". He cut into one - it was nicely red inside and charred outside - just as I like it. He put that on my plate and I was very happy. My second trip up for steak resulted in a steak slightly more done but very good as well. I tried the meatloaf which was moist and while my picky eater wife prefers meatloaf with brown gravy, this one was covered in tomato sauce. Golden Corral varies how they top their meatloaf. They had a nice assortment of potatoes including steak fries, hashed browns, and also housemade potato chips. The chips were seasoned with a slightly sweet seasoning. I would have preferred just salt as they have been at other Golden Corrals - but these were tasty but I was concerned that there was sugar in the seasoning (which with everything else that was good to have there, I did not need).

There was no rotisserie chicken as there has been in other Golden Corrals and this may be due to the space being taken up with two carving sections for ribs. I asked for a rib in regular, and not spicy sauce, and was told they only had regular sauce as the others had run out - which was fine with me. The ribs were better than I had recently at the Golden Corral in New Jersey. They were moist and really well cooked.

Perhaps since people who live in this area are used to eating at buffets but there was no chaos around the buffet counters. The meal was rather relaxed and despite the great meals I had at other PA Dutch buffets during this trip (five buffets in five days) this one held its own and was very good and satisfied my taste for steak. 

Desserts were all out and their bread pudding held up to the Golden Corral bread pudding I have enjoyed at other locations. And nothing ran out!

I mentioned at the beginning that the parking lot was full when we got there. We saw this on the road as we passed and we just went to where we were staying to park which happened to be practically next door. The walk there and back was good exercise for this meal.

I enjoyed this Golden Corral. It was one of the better Golden Corral meals that I have had. The restaurant is clean, inside and outside. The food is properly prepared and hot when it should be hot. There was really nothing wrong. Hopefully, it will stay this way and it is not just new opening enthusiasm.

I recommend this Golden Corral - it is where to go for a buffet in Lancaster on a Sunday. I will go back when I am there on a Sunday. If not a Sunday, there are too many great local buffets to choose from already Monday to Saturday. If you are local and have had your fill of PA Dutch cooking, then try it anytime.

The Lancaster Golden Corral is located at 2291 Lincoln Hwy E, Lancaster, PA 17603. The phone number is (717) 208-3984. The hours on Sunday - Thursday are to 9:30 pm. On Friday and Saturday they are open until 10:30 pm. There is a general website for all Golden Corral's located at the side of this page.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Yoders of New Holland, PA Has A New Look

Yoders Restaurant in Lancaster County, PA is one of several supermarket located buffet restaurants in this area. The restaurant has always had a coffee shop appearance with long rows of wooden booths filling the room. In 2014 the restaurant renovated its dining room and removed all of the booths and replaced them with tables for four with the walls surrounding these with booths. The restaurant has taken on a completely new look and it is very much for the benefit. The walls are still being decorated with mural sized photographs of the farm that is Yoder's dairy. These photos are being taken by season and the Spring photo is missing at this point because with the odd weather here this year, photographic Spring has not really begun yet even though I am writing this a week from June.  It is all very nice and very pleasing.

We went there for dinner tonight. We went in about 6:30 pm on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend. This is not a tourist destination restaurant and it was not busy. We were seated at a table immediately. We sat for about five minutes before our server appeared. In the meantime servers for the tables around us were visibly there. Where was ours? She finally did appear and we ordered the buffet and our soft drinks. Prices have gone up. Monday, Tuesday, Saturday dinner is $14.99. Wednesday and Thursday dinner is $13.99. Friday night is seafood buffet and that will set you back $19.99 each. Soft drinks - refillable by your server - are $2.29.

We have always liked the food at Yoders. This past year and on this visit, some of the food has been disappointing. The feature on the Thursday dinner are BBQ Smoked Brisket and BBQ Baby Back Ribs. The brisket was dry and while I was offered to top it with more BBQ sauce by the carver, I declined that and shouldn't have. The ribs were OK - a little fatty but tasty. They were not dry and did fall right off the bone. There was a tray on the hot buffet of thin sliced Prime Rib.  I took a small slice and it had a watery taste - beyond that it was tasteless. I tried the Salisbury steak in brown gravy and it was dry but very tasty. Ham balls were good. Mac and cheese with a nice crust is excellent. Buttered noodles in brown butter were over buttered but tasty. They always have baked oatmeal as a side and it is always good and was tonight. The meal was good but there were disappointments.

Service was just fair. The server would appear every so often to take away the plates on our table and she did offer drink refills twice. She was never visible in the dining room other than these brief and spread out visits.

I have noticed what I am about to say on other visits but it surprised me on this night that it involved the dessert bar. This restaurant closes at 8:00 pm and they mean it - even though they are still letting people in close to that time. It was just 8 and I noticed one of the workers closing down the dessert bar - emptying all of the trays into one large scrap tray and taking it all away. Had we waited five more minutes to go up for dessert that section of the dessert bar would have been completely gone.

I was asked this past year why Yoders did not make the list of best or top buffets - this is why. I want to see things get back to what they once were again. I really like this buffet and we will go back but they are not at their best for some reason.

I still recommend Yoders. The new look makes it a new experience. You might choose just the right things to eat and come away feeling this is an excellent buffet - and it can be. Consistency is important and that seems to be what needs attention there now.

Yoders  is located at Yoder's Supermarket or perhaps, more properly, Yoder's Country Market, Route 23, New Holland, Pennsylvania. The phone number is (717) 354-4748. There is a website posted at the side of this page.