Old Country Buffet
I just got back from Old Country Buffet (“OLC”) in Watertown, Massachusetts and was not impressed. Normally I avoided OLC because of not-so-positive reports about the place from friends and online reviews, but my girlfriend and I got positive recommendation from her brother and sister-in-law who normally dine at upscale restaurants, so I figured if they’re raving about it, let’s check it out.
While the experience was not entirely unpleasant – it was underwhelming – it’s not one I’d be in a hurry to repeat. I wasn’t expecting Las Vegas buffet quality, but for $11.00 for one adult, the place is what it is. The dining area was designed for a "mass feeder" concept – we were all packed into the dining area with just enough space between tables to be –comfortable, i.e. not intruding on the other tables. The service was bare bones – you have to get everything for yourself – the staff were merely bussers who promptly cleared your table.
For me, the only highlight was the fried chicken, which in my opinion was close to being on par with Bob the Chefs’ “Glorifried Chicken.” The mac & cheese was too watery; the spinach soufflé too salty; from the carving station I had roast beef and turkey that I found to be moist, but it was borderline between moist/dry; the tops of dinner rolls appeared to be drowning in a butter wash, the stuffing appeared to have been made from torn not cubed pieces of bread that seemed to have been clumped together (in fact, parts of the stuffing had the crust attached); and finally the cube of cheesecake I had for dessert was too soft.
Would I go back? No. The overall food quality was mediocre and only one saving grace, i.e. the chicken, doesn’t justify a return trip.
I've been there, too, and exactly once, for about the same reasons that you have. The mediocre food just isn't worth it and the dining room had the feel of sleepytime at the nursing home, to be honest.
I've found that the whole buffet.com family (Old Country Buffet, Country Buffet, and Hometown Buffet) are little more than glorified school lunchroom food. And actually, I remember school lunchroom more fondly.
That being said, my wife makes me eat there periodically for the desserts. I do like the fried chicken, and I can make some decent nachos out of the fixins on the bar. And when we ate at the Country Buffet in Denver, I had some rather nice grilled salmon and my wife liked that they gave her some steak very nice and rare.
But mostly I dislike being elbowed out of the way by old, unbathed seniors who park their walker in front of the buffet and pick through each entree looking for just the right piece of fish or chicken or whatever.
"But mostly I dislike being elbowed out of the way by old, unbathed seniors who park their walker in front of the buffet and pick through each entree looking for just the right piece of fish or chicken or whatever."
Yeah, those old infirm people should stay in the house! Fine lot of nerve, wanting to get out every once in a while and get in our way...
I don't think the problem is the age, it's the concept of hygiene. I've also, unfortunatly, experienced this problem at several other restaurants, none of which I'm interested in going to again. The odor irritation ranks up there with servers who start spraying Windex everywhere even though you're still eating.
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I have to wonder what was expected in the service area, as it is a buffet. Aside from that, the quality of the food here changes from day to day, depending on, it seems, whether anyone cares about their job that particular day. When the food is out fresh and made properly, it is actually quite good. However, there are two problems that come with most buffets: They are either not busy, and food grows a "crust" overtop, lest it be thrown away (meaning money is thrown away), or it is too busy, and the food prep is done too quickly, resulting in sloppiness. If you want food prepared exactly as you like it, don't go to a buffet.
OCB is currently operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and they have really cut back on any expensive ingredients. For example, you rarely see cauliflower or broccoli or the various melon cubes and other fresh fruit.
OCB in general, lacked consistency with some very good restaurants and some horrible ones. However, even the good ones are now difficult to enjoy.