Tuesday, August 08, 2017

GLOBAL BUFFET AND GRILL, Levittown, NY - UPDATE!

Global Buffet and Grill has not yet opened. The sign is still on the building saying it is "Coming Soon". From outside it is clear that work is continually being done - so we sent scouts out to go there and tell us what could be seen inside.

It is very obvious from what could be seen - it it that was considerable - that this is going to be an Asian buffet - or perhaps a combination Asian and international buffet. The rear wall of the restaurant could be seen fairly well through the windows (though it was very dark inside) and there are large backlit painted or stained glass art pictures lining that wall. Since they are backlit, they could been clearly seen. They seem to be framed in chrome or polished steel.

There seemed to be a lot of polished steel or chrome and/or brass in the decor. The buffet tables are set up and plentiful and they line up in rows front to back taking up about half the main dining room of what once was Old Country Buffet. These were seen from a distance through an open door. It was not possible to see anything of the grill.

This does not seem to be in anyway a "simple" or "everyday" buffet restaurant. From the decor that could be seen, it will be a surprise if this turns out to be what for this location an "affordable" buffet.

As to one of our readers who somehow was convinced that this will be a "Halal"  restaurant - highly unlikely - and in fact - the restaurant this reader came across or found out about is an catering hall/restaurant with the same name - Global Buffet and Grill - that is located in Canada and can be seen with a simple Google search.  This nothing like that - and it is extremely highly unlikely that there is any connection.

To lend more to that, looking up the corporation information on the new to come restaurant in Levittown, the corporate name has been modified to "Master Grill and Global Buffet, Inc.".  When I saw that ("Master Grill") before we knew what the interior is looking like, I was pretty certain that this is a name for an Asian Buffet company.


So - this is all conjecture based on what could be seen in a dimly lit room under construction through partially closed blinds and one half open side door. It is more than we knew before.

I was hopeful that we were getting an affordable "home-style/country" buffet. From what has been seen - it will not be. The one thing we don't need in this area is another Asian buffet. With one directly across the street, another in the next village that went out of business thinking that this area could support an Asian buffet at upscale prices that despite one time great food and even an attempt at lowering prices could not remain in business, and an upscale priced "international" buffet in the town north west of that.  Maybe we all will be surprised. The decor of Flaming Grill in Baldwin is similar in style to this - chandeliers and fancy decor, and is one of the most reasonably priced Asian buffets on Long Island - but they are part of a chain. There is no chain involved here that we can uncover.

++++++

Don't hold your breath for a Golden Corral to come to Long Island. The company has emphatically said no - not unless a franchiser wants to put up the money and take the risk. The two new Golden Corrals - Newburgh, NY and West Milford, CT - both in former OCB locations are having problems and we have been advised by readers to not go until they get themselves straightened out.



Friday, June 16, 2017

Top Buffet of 2016 - Shady Maple Smorgasbord, East Earl, PA

CONGRATULATIONS TO SHADY MAPLE SMORGASBORD, EAST EARL, Pa. AS A TOP BUFFET FOR 2016!

The one buffet that has been consistently named as a Top Buffet or Best Buffet is Shady Maple! Whenever we are asked by someone who has never been there or who is going to Lancaster County for the first time and wants to know what buffet they should go to, this is the one that we tell them. The reason is that Shady Maple is an experience. It is likely the largest buffet - maybe one of the largest restaurants in the Country - maybe in the world. This is not like any other restaurant or buffet in this area. Located in the middle of the farm lands and surrounded by farms, the restaurant inside is not what one would expect in this area. It is lavishly decorated. It has crystal chandeliers. It is big. The buffet section runs the length of the large restaurant on one side and you enter in the middle and it spreads down each side with buffet serving tables, flanked in the front by four cooking stations serving more foods.  Some will get the impression that if you go down both sides you will just find the same things - but that is only partially true. Many of the dishes on one side are different dishes on the other. This buffet is overwhelming - in a good way. You can easily eat far too much here - and start to get the idea that it is a challenge! Well, we have covered that idea since this site has started. It is not a challenge - it is an offer and one must need to know when to stop - especially if one plans to save room for dessert.

Each night is a featured food night. Monday is steak night. Tuesday is seafood. Wednesday is Prime Rib. Thursday is BBQ night. Friday and Saturday are a combination of the best - Saturday includes New York Strip Steak, Friday includes Beef Brisket. Prices do vary by night. You are not going to pay the same every night. Prices include local tax and a small service fee for the server so there is no tipping. Your beverage is included in the price of the buffet and you serve yourself your beverages from one of the largest assortment of beverages in any buffet. There is a senior discount. There is a free buffet on your birthday with proof and the purchase of a dinner for someone else.

The food has always been and is excellent. The food is prepared properly and kept at correct temperatures. There is an assortment of soups, an extensive salad bar, more entrees and sides than any other buffet including carving stations and grills. Desserts are coming from Shady Maple's Farm Market - on another part of the property - which is known for their baking. Foods include PA Dutch favorites along with a large variety of "American food".

I have said this before - several times - you can be anywhere in Lancaster and overhear people talking about Shady Maple. I have been in other states and have heard people talking about Shady Maple. When you go you will be with locals, tourists, the Amish, and the Mennonites. Everyone goes to Shady Maple.

During the winter, they have special menu weekends - and when I read what is coming, I am so tempted to battle the weather on a winter trip to get there for these.

We went several times in 2016 (and we have been there already in 2017) just to make sure all is the same and good. Of course it is.


Go hungry. Don't go after having a "big" lunch!

There is no question that this is a top buffet!

Shady Maple Smorgasbord is located at 129 Toddy Drive in East Earl, PA. Take Route 23 East or Route 322 South to get to the restaurant. There is lots of parking (free, of course). The phone numbers are 1-800-238-7363 and 717-354-8222. There is a website and it is listed at the side of this page. Like most other local buffets and restaurants in Lancaster County, Shady Maple is closed on Sundays - and some holidays, but not all. Dinner ends at 8:00 pm.


Friday, June 02, 2017

Top Buffet of 2016 - Bird-In-Hand Restaurant and Smorgasbord, Bird-In-Hand, PA

CONGRATULATIONS TO BIRD-IN-HAND RESTAURANT AND SMORGASBORD FOR BEING A TOP BUFFET OF 2016!

Bird-In-Hand Restaurant and Smorgasbord has been a well known restaurant and buffet in Lancaster County, PA for a very long time. I have had dinner and lunch there many times over many years. We have watched this buffet grow from a small counter along a wall with hot trays to a completely renovated restaurant with a good sized, dedicated smorgasbord section. The restaurant's building continued to grow to what it is today that includes the restaurant with two full sized dining rooms and on a lower level a theater featuring entertainment and local themed plays. With the theater the restaurant/buffet became part of a dinner theater package (which has not (in our experience) interfered with diners who are there for dinner only. The restaurant is owned and operated by the same family for generations and the property across from the restaurant is the family farm.

As prices have increased in a number of the buffets in this area, the price of this buffet has now come more in line with the others. In the past this buffet has offered sporadically offered coupon savings on the price of the buffet. It now has a coupon included in the Visit Lancaster County Guide which is available free all over Lancaster County - and will be sent to you on request from the tourist board. There is a price difference on Friday and Saturday night dinners which add carvings to the buffet. This buffet definitely gives value for what you pay and what you get.

The food here is excellent. This restaurant offers not only a buffet but also menu dining. One can also just opt for the Soup, Salad, and Bread Bar alone or with a menu item. One can also go just for the Desert Buffet. All is included with the full smorgasbord and the price includes a beverage with unlimited refills which is not included at many buffets in this area. Regular readers have read my raves about my favorite items on this buffet. I love, and have always loved, the Chicken Corn Soup prepared and served here - it is the best anywhere - and different from most. There is a secret to this soup that after many years of attempting to duplicate it at home, I cannot figure out. Another of our favorite items here is there turkey - served in a tray in liquid that keeps both white and dark meat moist and full of flavor. Of course, there is a wide assortment of other foods on the buffet. On some nights there will be a local dish called Chicken Bot Bei or Chicken Pot Pie to the tourists - which is not like a chicken pot pie in other areas. This is one of the better Chicken Bot Bei's which is not served often enough at other buffets. It is regularly here on certain nights. Another Lancaster County favorite - which is served at many PA Dutch buffets - is Pork and Sauerkraut. There are other soup choices and also a salad bar and a large dessert section. Deserts are full of choices and you will find whoopie pies - a local favorite of cake rounds with cream in the middle, a variety of pies including shoofly pie, chocolate shoofly pie - and a pie that I discovered two years ago that I have only seen in this area, Lemon Sponge (wonderful!). There is soft serve ice cream and a frozen soft drink machine. There is fruit and a number of prepared deserts as well!  The baking here comes from the well known Bird-In-Hand Bake Shop which is also owned by this family. The food has been consistently good. That does not mean that you will not find something that you don't care for because you just don't like that food or seasoning, but it does mean that you will enjoy here the foods that you like. 

For the children! There is a children's buffet bar that features kid favorites - hot dogs, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, hamburgers, spaghetti, etc. There this is only available Fridays and Saturdays until 7:30 pm. (The restaurant closes at 8:00 pm.)

If someone at a table does not want the buffet and wants to order of the menu they are welcome here to do that. Some buffets do not allow this. Here they do.

Service is good here. The wait staff are attentive. Dishes are cleared regularly and when it is time for a refill of your beverage, it is easy to spot your table server and ask.

When we come to this area there are so many buffets to choose from. Bird-In-Hand comes to mind often as a top choice to go to. 

One of the things that we like about Bird-In-Hand Restaurant is that you are going to encounter a good number of local people including Amish and Mennonites dining here. Of course, you are going to encounters tourists also - this restaurant is located on a main route - Route 340 - that goes through the heart of Amish and Mennonite farm lands. 

If you have never been this is a must try. If you have not been in awhile go back. If you are a regular then you know what we are talking about.

Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant is located at 2760 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505. The phone number is 1-800-665-8780. There is a website located at the side of this page.The restaurant closes at 8:00 pm and is not open on Sundays. You will not be seated for the Smorgasbord after 7:30 pm.


Friday, May 19, 2017

TOP BUFFETS FOR 2016

It is later then usual in getting this post out and I am sorry for that. Things just seem to happen that keep one from doing what they know needs to be done.

I have seen a few articles on restaurant sites with lists of the best buffets. I am sure that many of these buffets are very nice, but the one thing that all of them seem to have in common are big price tags on their buffet meals. As my regular readers know while this site is focused on all types of buffets at all price ranges, we try to keep a focus on buffets that are affordable for a working individual's family - one that you can go out to for a nice nice dinner with a few kids and not feel a pinch in the budget that week. Just because a buffet is inexpensive does not mean it is not a quality place to eat. And when it is not serving quality, I am the one who is going to make that clear right away. In choosing our top buffets we look to those affordable buffets - and not ones that are going to set you back over a hundred dollars for dinner for two.

For a top buffet, a buffet needs to meet certain criteria. The buffet must give excellent value. The buffet must serve quality food. The food must be prepared properly and taste very good to excellent. The restaurant must be managed properly. The service must be good. 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. There must be something that sets the buffet apart (in a superior way) to all the rest.

Last year right after our Top Buffets for 2015 article came out, a local buffet named in that article as a Top Buffet raised its prices and changed the quality of the food that they were serving. That buffet has since gone out of business. They lost our business after two visits with these changes. I am sure that  others felt the same way that we did.

This year, our top buffets are all located in the Buffet Capital of the US- Lancaster County. Three of these buffets have been Top Buffets before - and continue to be. One is new to this designation of Top Buffet. The four Top Buffets of 2016 are (listed in random order)  - Yoders Restaurant at Yoder's Country Farm Market in New Holland, PA, Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in Gap, PA, Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl, PA, and - the newest Top Buffet - Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant and Smorgasbord in Bird-In-Hand, PA.

Bird-In-Hand is not a new buffet. It is one of the longest operating buffets in Lancaster County. There have been reasons in the past that has kept this buffet off the top list but after several meals there in 2016, it was a definite must include in the Top Buffets list.

Why are all the buffets in Lancaster? Non-Asian buffets are becoming few and far between. The one place that one can still eat out every night of the week at a different "American Food" or "Regional Food" buffet is Lancaster County, PA!

In the next several weeks we will update our articles about these buffets with Top Buffet of 2016 articles. We will try to keep to our usual schedule of a new article every two weeks on Friday nights posted at night. 

Friday, April 07, 2017

A Dissappointing Birthday Dinner At DJ's International Buffet, Garden City, NY

D.J.'s International Buffet is a Long Island, NY buffet that is primarily Asian cuisine. It is one of the higher priced buffets in this area and that dinner price has recently gone up to $20.95 on Monday to Thursday and 27.95 on Friday to Sunday. There are often coupons in the local coupon saver books and mailings but there has not been one in some time. Their website is now calling this D.J.'s Seafood Buffet, but the sign outside still is International Buffet.  We had a birthday dinner to celebrate and not able to go out of state to one of the Lancaster buffets or up to Connecticut to one of the casino buffets, we decided on D.J.'s International Buffet nearby.

Maybe the change of name on the website should have been a clue because this buffet seems to have forgotten the "International" part that it once featured. Now, it is strictly Asian. It was not Asian that I had a taste for this night, but since it has had American and Italian dishes mixed into its Asian menu, we figured there would be enough of an assortment. As a side note, the only buffets in this area now for almost 70 miles are Asian - and getting off the Island to anywhere else means taking two expensive and constantly increasing in cost toll bridges and gas. If you are in this area and want to eat in a buffet it is going to be Asian.

So we went. This was a weeknight. There were a number of tables filled and both dining rooms were needed. Many tables were filled with Asian families. Even with large tables scattered around the second dining room that were empty, a large family came in just after we did and they were seated at a large table located right behind us and added a high chair to the end of the table that came almost up against ours. We both wondered why this group was not sat one table over which was of equal size and with more room all around for they and us to get up and back down from the table. OK.

So, when we got into the restaurant there was another couple waiting for a table and the four of us were taken into the dining room together. Now, as that table was being seated, the woman in the couple left the man and went to the buffet, while he was seated. We were seated behind them - fine - but I was curious as to why she had to run to the buffet before they even got to their table. We settled into our table and then got up to go off to the buffet. As I was heading toward the buffet tables, the woman passes me with a plate filled and overflowing with snow crab legs. As I soon discovered, she has emptied the steam tray of snow crab. This set the way the rest of the nigh went when it came to snow crab. That tray remained empty for almost an hour. It evidently got refilled some time between our third and fourth trip back up to the buffet but with that fourth trip back the tray was empty again - all except one small leg and one claw at the bottom of the hot water in the tray. They were soon gone as well. No other snow crab went into the tray until we were going up for dessert. One of the reasons for the price being what it is here is the hot snow crab legs. I never got any.

The quality of the food here and assortment of dishes is what does set this, now Asian, buffet from the other Asian buffets left here. However, there are problems here that were not here in the past. Some entree dishes that I took were not properly hot in temperature. Some were dried out. Signage at the buffet leaves a lot to be desired - some trays have different items in them with signs identifying them as the same - far from the same. Some items were obviously labeled incorrectly. Some are not labeled at all. At the sushi bar - which is extensive - and if you like sushi this surpasses the rest - except for a Japanese and sushi buffet not far from here that is even more expensive. And I saw something that I have heard about being in some Asian buffets, but never before have I been in one that said this - if you take sushi that has rice and do not eat the rice, you will be charged a surcharge! I can't eat the rice - I like sushi. They do have a platter out just with the raw fish and that is what I took - but there were some interesting looking - yet totally unidentified things on the sushi bar that I might have tried and pushed off the rice. I did not dare.

There was one item at the grill appetizer section that seemed to be a dumpling of some sort. It was a soft round, tan ball. I took one to try. I cut into it and discovered large chunks of octopus. It would have been nice to know this before I took it. A beef dish that should not have been spicy - was spicy.

This is not the first time that we have been here. I have written about it before - the last time in 2015. It was pretty good then - and in the past there have been various unusual things - always clearly identified - that were intriguing to try. Maybe I am Asian buffeted out, but I just had a hard time with what I was going to eat and what I was picking had issues. There was a good steamed halibut in ginger which had the advantage over other steamed fish in other Asian buffets, that this is not a "flat" fish, like flounder - and the section of bones easily separated whole from the fish preventing finding an unwanted sharp bone in your mouth eating the fish. There is fresh mozzarella cheese sliced with tomatoes on the salad bar - the last of the International selections - not counting pizza and mac and cheese which are now standards in most Asian buffets. The cheese is fresh mozzarella.  They also have a nice olive assortment with Greek olives on the salad bar.

There is a sign over the grill area that says ask for a steak from our grill. There was no one around to ask for a steak. There is a section that makes dessert crepes. There was no one around to make crepes when we went up for dessert. In fact, there was no one behind any counter at that point at all. The restaurant is open according to the sign on the door until 10:00 pm and on the blackboard in the lobby the buffet is seated until 9:30 pm. The staff were cleaning behind the grill and sushi areas at 8:00 pm and were gone before 8:30.

So I got no snow crab legs, no steak, and no dessert crepe. When the check came which after tax and tip was over $50 for two (no beverage, just water or the price would have been a lot more), we figured out that had it not been for circumstances that we could get not get out of town, we could have driven to New Jersey (a long drive) and gone to Golden Corral (with the emailed free buffet birthday coupon) - including price of dinner, gas and tolls for less.  We shall keep this in mind from now on.

D.J.'s International Buffet is located at 1100 Stewart Avenue in Garden City, New York. There is a website, linked at the side in the right column. Beware that when you open the website it plays annoying music, which can be turned off, but if you turn it off and go to another page (except the price page) the music starts again.
 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

OCB Levittown Former Location News

We drove past the former location of Old Country Buffet in Levittown, New York today and there is a change. There is now a sign on the side of the building - and soon to be one on the front of the building. The sign says, "GLOBAL BUFFET".

I have tried to find out about what Global Buffet might be. From the name, I say that this is ANOTHER not needed, Asian buffet which will be in direct competition from another large Asian buffet directly across the street. I have found a Global Buffet that WAS in Oswego, New York. This has closed.  It was a Chinese/Asian buffet with mixed reviews that tended toward the negative - and since it has gone out of business, evidently those who though poorly of it were correct. The other is a chain of buffets in Great Britain - though this is named "JRC Global Buffet". These seem to actually be a combination of world foods including American, British, French, Asian, Thai, Brazilian, and more. That would have possibilities but I doubt that this is what this Global Buffet will be - and their website talks about making reservations SO unless that is something that Eurpeans just expect to be able to do, it will not go over well here with the usual buffet dining crowd.

So now we wait and see. It will not likely be long until we know. This does put to rest any idea that Golden Corral was coming here.  I would so much like to see an American buffet or an actual "international" buffet open that is not Asian based. There are enough Asian buffets near by - and the affordable ones all seem to serve the same things. I have been looking forward to a buffet coming with things like meatloaf, carved turkey, steak - maybe, roast beef, real ribs - maybe, fried chicken... Well, I am not so hopeful anymore.

If I can learn more, I will be back with another article.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Finally a Buffet Dinner Not in an Asian Buffet!

Locally there are now only Asian buffets where we are. I have been craving a meal at what I will call an "American" buffet for about three months. I want meatloaf. I want steak. I want fried chicken! I have thought a few times of just taking the trip across two expensive toll bridges and driving the hour and a half to have dinner in the nearest Golden Corral (the nearest American buffet) several times in the past several weeks. Despite the cold and the snow storms, it seemed almost worth it - but to pay those tolls and then pay for dinner, we could have gone to a non-buffet and ordered meatloaf. Well, it is late February and we have annual business in New Jersey - weather permitting - and we went to Golden Corral!

I really was looking forward to this - even though this particular Golden Corral has not been one of our favorites and it is one of the Golden Corrals that charge more than most others - but I did not care. I needed to eat at a Golden Corral!

It is a Saturday night. Surprisingly warm weather all day. The line - as we have found before at this Golden Corral - was out the door and the length of the building outside. As we got inside on the line a large group that apparently had only a few of their party on the line ahead of us suddenly all arrived and went to join the rest of their party of perhaps twenty five or more at the front of the line. They were polite and apologized so it was fine. We finally got to the cashier. Premium weekend prices were in effect - $14.99 per person and $2.29 each drink. OK! I wanted steak, meatloaf, and fried chicken! My picky eater wife on the other hand was anticipating a hard time finding what she eats as she often does not find at any Golden Corral and with the current weekend feature of seafood, this was not helping as these features often remove some of the basic items on the buffet.

We were seated at an uncomfortable table for two that was stuck out in the aisle with another table for two - and the table had an uneven leg that rocked. One thing we both enjoy at Golden Corral is their chicken soup with thick, doughy noodles! That was first! A full heaping bowl of those noodles and broth with carrots and celery mixed in along with chunks of chicken! It is always good and now it was not wonton soup!

We skipped the salad and went right to the hot buffet. I went directly to the grill for steak. The chef at the grill understood what rare is and when I said "rare!", he picked up a steak, cut into it and saw it was red inside but not raw and cut me off a good chunk! It was charred and crispy outside and red inside - to me an almost perfect steak - only not perfect as there was a good amount of fat inside which is good in moderation. I went next with my plate with the steak looking for the meatloaf. The tray was empty! I eyed the fried chicken and took a breast (I should have taken something smaller). I added an onion ring to the plate, and then some mashed potatoes and gravy and fried okra! I passed my wife walking around with an almost empty plate. OK - there were things for her to eat and it was up to her to decide what she was  going to take. I headed back to the table as did she.

I cut into the steak, red juices ran out! It really was crispy outside and red inside! I took a forkful in my mouth and made a Galloping Gourmet face! (Galloping Gourmet - one of my favorite daytime shows as a kid in the late 60's. He was (is) an international chef from Canada who had his own syndicated show that played here in the US during the late afternoon. I learned to cook watching the Galloping Gourmet - still have two of his cookbooks - and when he bit into something wonderful his face lit up and a smile came across his lips!) I had the steak that I was craving. Thick and juicy and cooked just right. I cut around the excess fat - ate some, left some - but I ate every bit of meat. The chicken was OK. Not great - too big a piece and that was my fault for taking it - and the crust could have been more crispy. I ate most of it. The mashed potatoes were good. The gravy was good. The onion ring complimented the steak nicely!

Next plate. I went straight to the meatloaf. It had been put out again. I put a hunk on my plate. The special feature (that makes the weekend prices cost more) is scallops with garlic on a skewer, two types of fish, two types of shrimp, a honey teriyaki chicken breast, and carved sirloin steak with lemon and rosemary. Another steak to try! I went to the carving counter and the man behind the counter looked at the little piece of steak on the carving board, looked at me, and discarded it. Good! He went to the grill and took a large sirloin steak that looked too under cooked, even to me. He put it on the carving board, looked at it, picked it up and took it back to the grill. He came back with another - this one better done. He reached into a crock with a ladle and filled it with lemon rosemary sauce. He poured that over the top (less you think this steak is marinated in lemon and rosemary - it is not) and moved it around the steak with the ladle. He then cut it into pieces. He took one of the pieces and cut a section off and put it on my plate - it was red inside but now raw - good! I added some large cut fries and a hush puppy to the plate along with a big spoonful of mac and cheese and returned to our table. My wife was there with meatloaf also on her plate. The meatloaf was very good. I go back and forth between meatloaf with brown gravy and meatloaf with tomato gravy or catsup on top. My wife does not like meatloaf with tomato sauce or catsup and likes it with brown gravy. Golden Corral varies how they serve it - on this night it was with brown gravy. That was fine with me and that made my wife happy too. The meatloaf was good! It satisfied that craving well! The lemon rosemary steak was fine but not spectacular. It was rare and good in that respect. I feel that the lemon took away from the taste of the meat that would have been better just left alone - which means just as the steak is ordinarily served here charred on the grill.  The mac and cheese was thick and gooey and wonderful!

Just an aside about the weekend feature. The big feature of the added weekend pricing was that it would include Prime Rib carved at dinner. This is not so any longer - at least not with this feature. They seem to feel that scallops on a skewer brushed with garlic are equivalent to Prime Rib - and even though I have generally liked the Prime Rib that Golden Corral has served - the scallops are not the equivalent. I have read that scallops are expensive recently due to a shortage of them due to the temperatures of the ocean water, and perhaps that is why they replace the Prime Rib with this feature. I don't know. I did not try them. I do not like garlic all over what I eat so I passed. I saw them. There were maybe six or so small scallops on a skewer cooked on a flat griddle. They may have been very good.

Next plate. I did what I generally do at buffets. The third plate is a combination of the things I like best. I went back to the steak grill - "Rare, please!" - and got another piece of steak. I then went back to the meatloaf tray. I saw the pieces were cut very large, so I cut one in half with the serving spatula and took that. An onion ring when on the plate and then I realized that all I had eaten were meat and carbs so I took some string beans - and a small spoon of baked beans (more carbs). This steak was almost as good as the first. The meatloaf just as good. And during this plate the feeling of I have eaten too much meat hit me. I finished it all but knew that this was my last plate of meat for the evening. I can no longer eat as much as I once could. I find that I hit that wall a lot sooner. That is OK - as this site is called - it is not a challenge - and we will be doing more business in New Jersey in a couple of weeks so we will be back for more!

I finished the meal with a bowl of bread pudding. I love Golden Corral's bread pudding. This is something else you don't get in an Asian buffet!

The service was good, but the poor guy was way over worked. Two servers who also buss tables is not enough for a large section of tables. This man was running back and forth and doing his best. When you could get his attention - and that was not his fault - he dropped what he was doing and ran over. And I did not see other tables leaving a tip - a problem at buffets. I always leave the server a tip - unless the service is horrendous. He got a tip!

For the time being craving satisfied. You know OCB is gone - at least from here and none anywhere possible to get to just for dinner - and you don't know what you've got until its gone - to borrow from an old song!

We'll be back!

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Request for an Interview

Every so often we get requests to be interviewed for television stories, news stories, articles, etc.  Those who are looking to put us on film are told that we wish to be anonymous to keep our site honest and allow us the ability to walk into any buffet and have no chance of being recognized, so this means no video - and generally no audio. Those interviews never happen. They want you full face on camera. We don't do that.  When it is a print or web article I am happy to be interviewed through email and that satisfies the author. Recently we had a request from a writer who was doing an article about buffet dining for a financial website. I wondered what buffet dining would have to do with finance - other than from a business prospective of running a buffet, but this was not what he was looking for.  He said he had questions about dining at buffets. Fine. I responded saying that if he emailed me his list of questions I would answer them and email my responses back. What I received was not a list of questions but this -  Give "some "finesse" tips. How do you choose a buffet restaurant? How do you scope out their specialties in advance? ...That sort of thing."

Well, he certainly could have gotten that from reading several of the articles on this site, but I decided that I would give him exactly what he was asking for. As it turned out, little of what I provided him made it to his article - which turned out to be a slide presentation rather than a straight article - though, the presentation was accompanied by the text of each slide. Much of what he wrote was way off the mark of what this site presents - and its finance connection was mostly how to get the most bang from your buck when dining at a buffet.  To us, the idea of eat something because it is expensive is not really a way to get a good buffet experience.

Here is what I wrote for him to use. I am sure it will be a benefit to some of our readers and I am sure that regular readers will see a lot of the what has always been the philosophy of buffet dining on this site.

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 The subtitle of my site is "All you can eat is not a Challenge!" (this was mine before it was used by anyone else) and that is the basis of rational eating at a buffet. I have seen people fill a single plate with so many different foods at the same time that there is no way to distinguish anything on the plate other than the top layer that must go four layers of food down. This is no way to eat. One can go back as many times as they wish. We eat in a normal fashion - start with soup, next go up for salad (if we want salad), and then go for a first plate of entrees and side dishes. That first plate at the hot buffet for me will be a sampling plate if it is a buffet that I have never dined at before. I will take a little of the items that appeal to me - maybe just enough for a taste if it is something that I am not sure that I will enjoy. If it is a buffet that I have been to before, I will go to the items that I know that I like and if there is something new take a small sample to try. After that plate the next plate will be those items that I really liked. We tend to set a limit of three plates - you don't want to walk out feeling sick and I have seen this happen way too often with others. Depending on how full I feel before that third plate, that plate is just skipped. We avoid eating bread or rolls. Those just fill you up for no reason. There is a reason why most buffets give you unlimited soft drinks - the liquid and carbonation will fill you up quickly. If it is a hot day, drink as much as you need to, but otherwise drink to enjoy the soft drink as you eat but don't drink just because you can get more - which is the same approach with eating. Just because the food is there, you don't have to keep eating it until you are ready to burst. After the "main course" there is also dessert and the best thing to do after eating all that is to decide on one dessert that you will enjoy the most and take only one. If you feel like another - and your eyes are not bigger than your stomach - take one more - and then stop. This is not your last meal so don't eat like it is. During dinner carry on a conversation with your dinner companions, don't just sit there and eat. It is also only polite when two are dining to wait to go for your next trip to the buffet until your partner is ready to go also. You will not only enjoy the food but you will also enjoy the companionship of dining.

How do we pick a buffet? Price and, if available, a quick look at reviews. If we get there and there is no one inside, we may not go in. The food will not be maintained properly in an empty buffet restaurant. The food trays on a buffet table must be, as I say, kept "tended" at all times. Someone from the restaurant needs to go from tray to tray making sure that nothing is drying out and they need to stir whatever can be stirred. Food that they find that is too dry or no longer appetizing in appearance needs to be removed and discarded. Proper food temperature needs to be maintained as well. Putting out a microwave and telling customers to warm the food themselves is not acceptable. The food should never be cold or cool when it goes from the serving tray to your plate unless it is intended to be eaten cold - and then it needs to be properly cold. I also will not eat raw clams or oysters at a buffet when there is not an employee at the clam/oyster bar shucking the shellfish as they are taken and making sure that the oysters and clams do not sit for any length of time and are not drying out and going bad.

Since the beginning of our site we have grown a list of "Rules of the Buffet". Here is the most recent updated complete list -
http://buffets.blogspot.com/2016/05/a-new-rule.html

These rules say it all. Anyone going to a buffet should read and remember these rules. Buffets should post them at the entrance. None do - though I know a number of buffets have read our site.

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Holiday Dinner at Flaming Grill Supreme Buffet, Baldwin, New York

We have been dining fairly regularly at the Flaming Grill Supreme Buffet in Baldwin, New York (Long Island). We have written about this buffet when we first went there when it had recently opened in 2014. It is one of the few decent affordable Asian buffets in this area. We have learned - seeing another of this restaurant in Pennsylvania, that they are part of a chain.

This year they had a "special" dinner for both Christmas Day and also New Year's Day - no reservations necessary and a price only $3 more than their regular Saturday/Sunday dinner price of $12.99 (less one of their regular $1.50 off coupons). For the holidays there were no coupons accepted but they did offer their Senior price. At $15.99 (plus $1.69 for unlimited soft drinks) is the best that can be found in this area on a holiday where holiday buffets offered in non-buffet restaurants start at $50 and go up from there. We went and were happy with what we found.

This buffet included several items not offered at other times - lobster with shell in ginger sauce, cold snow crab legs (small clusters), whole flounder in ginger sauce, and a full roast turkey that you carve yourself. All of their usual buffet items were also there along with the large sushi bar, hibachi grill, the raw oysters and clams, dessert bar and chocolate fountain.

This buffet has changed a little in the past four years on regular nights. Weeknight prices have gone up only a dollar to $11.99. The several dumplings once offered are now down to just fried meat dumplings. There are no longer egg rolls but only spring rolls. Small things that do not really matter as there is still so much.

We had a great meal. The usual problem that takes place at Asian buffets with lobster took place here as well - they bring out a full tray of lobster to a crowd of people waiting like vultures for it to appear and then descend on it and strip it clean in a few minutes. The thing though was that once the dinner time crowd has diminished, the tray of lobster would come out and no one ran for it. I was able to fill my plate several times with good lobster pieces. The roast turkey was very good. As I say it was a whole turkey and it clearly was not the first one that went out that evening. There was a carving knife and fork in the tray with the turkey and it carved off easily. It was very good - no turkey gravy, but, after all, this is an Asian buffet. The crab legs were on ice which means they are hard to get the meat out of the shell, but they were tasty and there was hot butter sauce in a tray on the counter next to them. The flounder in ginger sauce went at first almost as quickly as the lobster, but they kept bringing it out and it was possible to get servings of it with patience.

While we had been there a few nights before for a regular dinner, we found enough different added to the things we generally like to eat here, that we were happy. Service here is good and for a very busy buffet they keep up well with replacing empty trays - with the same item - and keeping everything fresh and at the correct serving temperatures.

We had a nice all you care to eat, holiday meal for little money compared to what this could have cost. I am not sure which other holidays they do this for but if you are in this area and don't want to stay home for Christmas or New Year's Day dinner this is a buffet to consider.

 The Flaming Grill and Supreme Buffet is located at 1773 Grand Avenue, Baldwin, New York 11510. The phone number is 516-544-2222. There is a website and it is listed on the right side column of this page.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Want A Golden Corral Near You?

For many of us the only buffet restaurants left anywhere near us are Asian buffets, and while they are fine, the loss of OCB, Ryan's, or Hometown Buffet has left a large gap in buffet choices in many places. For some that gap is filled by a Golden Corral that was not too far off to go to. For the rest of us - nothing!

Golden Corral's posts on Facebook are often responded to with requests for a Golden Corral to open some time soon nearby. Golden Corral does respond to these with the suggestion to go to their website and contact page and let them know where you want a Golden Corral. To make this easy for our readers to do here is a link that will take you directly to that page. There will be a drop down subject menu and BE SURE to pick this Subject - "I Would Like a Golden Corral In My City"

http://www.goldencorral.com/contact/


Golden Corral has announced that they have obtained some OCB, Ryan's and HomeTown closed location to make them Golden Corrals. They are not coming anywhere near us - and I know many in my area who keep asking where to go that OCB is gone. I have no answer - until now that I can share that we all need to let Golden Corral know that there is a lot of business waiting for them here!