The American Dream?

As someone who’s is old enough that I should know better, but still wants to eat at buffets, I thought this story, about a visit to Hometown Buffet, was funny. I mean, ever since I saw the ad for fried shrimp and barbeque pork riblets, I’ve been hankering for a visit (don’t know if that promotion is still going on).

They also have a link to photos of the plates. Perhaps not surprisingly, the pictures actually make me *less* hungry. :D

50 years of buffet experience

With long experience in buffets all over the country, I would like to impart my rules for threading the buffet needle and leaving happier than when I entered.  Some rules that I have learned the hard way are:

1. Never eat ANY meat covered in gravy.  Without exception, gravy is an opportunity to mask the taste of the oldest, cheapest cuts of meat, meatloaf, or 'formed meat' (cuttings squeezed into patties or chemically molded).  Sauces, however, tend to enhance the taste of their foods.  Learn the difference.


2. Always taste anything you can ladle a small sample of onto your plate before loading a serving onto your plate.  If you do this discretely, you can avoid looking like a rude or picky eater.  I have seen many people charged extra for wasting plates of food that they took one bite of and, to my mind, wisely rejected. 


3. Sniff what you are sampling when you taste it.  In the crowded environment of buffets, the scent of individual dishes is sometimes hard to discern until it is near or in your mouth.  Many, many times, this has saved me from biting into something I would like to have spit out instead of swallowing. 


4. Don't feel obligated to try everything.  Eat what YOU want, not what THEY want you to eat.  If they have several kinds of chicken, the odds are that they don't do all of them equally well.  If you like fried chicken, try the fried chicken and give the dumplings a pass.  If they have pizza, it is probably second rate compared to pure pizza restaurants, if they have chinese food, it will probable not be as good as at a chinese food restaurant.


5. You can't go wrong with soup.  Soup at buffets tends to be hearty style, as people feel cheated if the soup is too diluted with broth, and buffet owners know this.  It also tends to be a little bland, so season it to suit your taste. 


6. Get the most of what the buffets ration.  If they will only give you one or two slices of prime rib, tri tip, or some other choice cut of meat, make several trips and load up on it.


7. If you don't like boiled vegetables, don't eat them at buffets.  Seasoning these with butter, olive oil, pepper, chili powder, or mixing them with au jus can help make them more palatable.


8.Don't scrape the last of anything from an almost empty serving container.  Instead, ask for the container to be refilled, and get it fresher.  Most buffets have someone cruising the buffet looking for empty containers and bringing out fresh food, and fresh containers always are hotter and tastier than what has been sitting and cooling for some time.


9. Keep the bread to a minimum, no matter how good and fresh it is.  After beverages, this is the cheapest, most filling class of item served, and if you want bread that bad, stop at a market afterwards and pay 2 - 3 dollars for a hot, fresh bag of rolls and eat them at your home at your leisure. 


10. If you want to get the most for your dollar, eat a large meal the day before, as this will stretch your stomach and give you extra room for your attempt to eat everything you can.


11.  Buffet desserts are the cheapest class of food after breads and beverages.  That is why there is such a hypnotic, colorful, tasty display of desserts to tempt you.  My advice is to get several servings of desserts and share them with your dinner companions.  If you have quarter or half servings of several different desserts, you can have an enjoyable dessert experience without taking space for the premium items.


12. As mentioned in the story, keep beverages to a minimum.  For less than a dollar, you can get a 2 liter bottle of your favorite cold beverage at many markets or refill up your 64 ouncer at 7-11. 

The American Dream?

Thanks for the tips.

The American Dream?

Yeah, I got a kick out of all the tips, too.  Thanks!