Old Country Buffet
By The Cranky Media Guy
The first thing you have to know about Old Country Buffet is that it
goes by different names in different states. I don't know why;
maybe it's wanted in Indiana or something. Anyway, in some
parts, like Virginia where I'm living, it's Old Country Buffet.
In other states, it's just plain ol' Country Buffet. In still
other places, it's called Neil Armstrong's Lunar Luau. Okay, I
made that last one up; I don't really remember the third name for
O.C.B. is a little different from the other places I've reviewed.
Strictly speaking, it isn't exactly "fast food".
Also, it's an all-you-can-eat place. That alone makes it
worthy of review, as far as I'm concerned. Yup, you pays your
money and you eats your food, as much as you want. Oh, the
drinks are included in the price, refills included. That isn't
true at all buffet chains. Good deal.
And good food, too, actually. I avoid salad bars like a
Superfund site, but O.C.B. seems to have most of what you grazers
want--all that green and red stuff that smells funny and the goop to
put on top of it to make it smell even funnier. All I really
know about the salad section is that my wife seems to enjoy it.
As for meat, the staff of life, well, dive right in, my fellow
carnivores. While the selection of stuff on the menu changes
from day to day, O.C.B. always has fried chicken, so your
lust for flesh can be sated.
Oh, before I forget, here's a little secret. The dinner
price is higher than the lunch price. Lunch doesn't include
roast beef, ham or turkey; they aren't available until 3:30 when the
price goes up for dinner. Unlike some other all-you-can-eats I
could name (are you listening, Horn and Horn?), O.C.B.
doesn't clear out their dining room before resetting for dinner.
That means that you can show up at around 3:15, pay the lunch price,
hang out for a few minutes and glom some roast beef, ham or turkey
without paying the higher price. Hey, I don't make the rules,
I just exploit them. Actually, the O.C.B. people don't seem to mind
at all, unlike the buffet Nazis at Horn and Horn. "Laid
back" seems to be the operative philosophy at O.C.B.
I've eaten at four or five O.C.B.'s and with the exception of the
one in Dale City, VA, they were all run very well. Dale City
seems to have a wee bit of a problem with their buffet replenishment
rate. In other words, they're slow to get new food out.
The buffet system requires a management that is on its toes.
No goofing off in the back, reading a magazine, if you're an O.C.B.
manager. You've got to be out there on the front lines at all
times, making sure there are dinner rolls, damn it. (As you
might imagine, all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants seem to attract
their share of Jenny Craig dropout customers.)
All in all, I really like Old Country Buffet, or whatever nom de
cuisine it goes by in your neck of the woods. It's a good deal
at a fair price and an even better deal if you show up around 3:15.