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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 the joint.

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.

RATING:  hathathathalf hat




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