Date of Visit: Sunday, May 25, 2008
Time: Lunch - 12:30 PM
Number of Diners: ~30
Food Quality: 3
*Spilled food and screaming children in abundance
Certainly a departure from my normal class of restaurant, it will serve a purpose in testing the lower ranges of the rating scales!
Golden Corral is a buffet style family restaurant. We attended a group function to bid farewell to a person moving out of state. The fellowship was great. Everything else was not. Hopefully our friend will return to visit us anyway.
No printed menu, but a vast array of items laid out in a byzantine buffet.
The room is enormous with tables everywhere, and a couple of private banquet rooms. You come into a large queue where your drink order is filled and placed on a cafeteria tray with a pile of plates. You pay in advance: $9.49 per person, plus $1.89 per drink, plus tax. No alcoholic beverages available, which is too bad - a stiff drink might have taken the edge off the experience.
In our banquet room there was an even larger pile of plates and about 20 tables. A service person brought a big bowl of shiny yeast rolls fresh from the oven with a tray of paper souffle cups with honey butter. She also cleared plates and refilled drinks. While a nice attempt at service, allowing us to serve ourselves would have been adequate and we would have been better served without the need to leave additional gratuity.
What I had with descriptions...If you love fried starch and protein, this is the place for you. The yeast rolls were light and messy, and it went downhill from there. There were four large buffet stations. One was the cold buffet, dedicated to salad, cold meats, nachos, 4 soups of undetermined origin, tacos, potatoes and fixings. The middle two "hot buffets" and contained troughs of soft vegetables, starches, and fried chicken, fried catfish, fried shrimp, fried hush puppies, fried potatoes, fried and breaded veggies of several stripes, fried potatoes, fried crab cakes, and a number of other starches mixed with cream sauces and fried selections. The fourth was a dessert bar. There was no shortage of choices, many of which were marked, and most of which were scattered liberally on the floor, making traction a mix of spongy and slick.
From the website, here were the purported hot choices: Awesome Pot Roast, Bourbon Street Chicken, Broccoli & Rice, Brown Gravy, Buttered Noodles, Chicken & Pastry Noodles, Chicken Tenders, Country Fried Steak, Creamy Chicken & Pasta, Fresh Fried Chicken, Grilled Pork Chop, Macaroni & Beef, Macaroni & Cheese, Mashed Potatoes (Scratch), Meatloaf, Pizza, Potato Casserole, Roast Beef, Sirloin Steak, Spaghetti Pasta, Spaghetti Sauce, Tortillas, White Rice, Battered Pollock Fish Fillet, Breaded Butterflied Shrimp, Breaded Jumbo Shrimp, Breaded Shrimp, Cajun Style Fish Fillet, Cracker Crumb Fish Fillet, Asian Beans, Black-eyed Peas, Brussels Sprouts, Cheddar Cheese Sauce, Corn-on-the-Cob, Creamed Corn, Creamed Spinach, Fresh Steamed Broccoli, Fresh Steamed Cabbage, Fresh Steamed Carrots, Fresh Steamed Cauliflower, Fresh Vegetable Trio, Glazed Sesame Carrots, Green & Yellow Beans, Green Beans, Green Peas, Squash Medley, Steamed Zucchini, Yams & Apples, etc. Some of these may not have been available, and other things may have been, but it was too overwhelming to tell.
To go with my iced tea (unsweetened) I hazarded a green salad with almond slices, dried cranberries, green olives, blue cheese, crumbled bacon, and thousand island dressing. The ingredients were fresh and nice, and the dressing was soupy and depressing. Complemented with two slices of pizza (medium crust and lots of over-sweet sauce), one slice had leftover breakfast sausage and the other had leftover breakfast bacon. It was... edible. Barely.
Next I ventured forth to seek non-fried alternatives and found bourbon chicken (too sweet and salty), sliced sausage in an over-sweet BBQ sauce, a taco, scratch mashed potatoes (not good) with white sausage gravy (not bad). I'm told I missed a bet by passing on the steak, for which the place is legendary. These were seven-bone beef steaks tossed onto a gas grill with great showmanship, cooked to and sliced to order. Each table had a bottle of Golden Corral steak sauce in an A-1 shaped bottle.
Dessert was a piece of gelatinous and doughy blueberry pie. The vanilla soft-serve machine was empty, so I opted for the sugar-free vanilla, which quickly dispensed a liberal helping of orange sherbet. Added a chocolate-topped rice crispie treat and some jellied orange candies to round out the nutritional disaster.
The place was convenient for our purpose - to pack in 30 assorted people with noisy and messy kids into a room, get fed, and roast our friend in public before he moved to Colorado. Everybody paid their own way, and we left extra tips for the mess made by the children. But you would never go there for the food.
Golden Corral - NOT RECOMMENDED unless you need to gain a weight class in an hour or two.
Highs: Fellowship with friends, space for rowdy kids
Lows: Fried foods, mushy vegetables, too much starch, fat, sugar, and salt - I was still thirsty 5 hours later
Bon Appétit! - W. Ego