Saturday, May 08, 2010

Phoenix Chinese Restaurant, Elberton, GA

Last Saturday evening, I unexpectedly found myself in the Elberton area, so I decided to go ahead and eat while I was there. I had originally intended to go to Hunan's but, upon arrival, I found they only have the buffet out for lunch hours, so I went back the other way on Elbert Street to a small place I've passed by many times but never stopped in, Phoenix Chinese Restaurant.

The building is almost too small; there are something like a dozen tables and the buffet bars are very cramped, but the food proves to be a very good value for the low advertised price. There isn't enough room for an especially diverse menu but all of the most popular staples are covered. The crispy noodles they use taste like something more gourmet than you find in most Chinese restaurants.

The proprietors and staff are very pleasant people and they make the cramped quarters much more comfortable with the friendly atmosphere. If it were more convenient to where I live and usually make my rounds, I would go often.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Part Time Buffet: Fresh Air BBQ, Athens, Georgia

Fresh Air BBQ is better known as a regular barbecue restaurant, popular with carry-out customers especially, but the Athens Tech location has a lunch buffet on Fridays and Saturdays. In addition to Fresh Air's signature barbecue and stew, the buffet includes ribs (on Thursdays) and fried shrimp (on Fridays) along with other typical southern food staples. My favorite is the yellow squash casserole, which I ate too much of last time. The total price comes out to $9 with tax and drink included.

While the shrimp is very good, they only offer small packets of cheap tartar sauce, but an inventive diner can likely find a way to compensate with the pickled cucumber slices at the salad bar, among other possible solutions. Also, the restaurant really doesn't make its own sauce, so the flavoring on the ribs will taste very familiar. Neither of these should be deal-breakers for the buffet connoisseur as there's plenty else to make a well-rounded and satisfying meal. I just wish they offered the buffet more than two days a week.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

No. 1 China, Crawford, GA

Crawford, GA finally has a Chinese restaurant, No. 1 China, from the family that has also opened locations in Comer, Danielsville and Statham. It's also the only restaurant in all of Oglethorpe County to offer a buffet, although the carry-out menu offers a much larger selection of items that can be made to order on demand.

I have arrived at a Saturday routine where I close my store in Lexington at about 4 pm and then head over to No. 1 China to eat. This is because, as I discovered recently, the food made for the dinner crowd is made around this time and set out soon after, so it's the most opportune time to enjoy everything while it's hot and fresh, and before many people come in.

There isn't really much to say about the place to distinguish it from other under-$10 Chinese buffets, but there's something to be said for dependability, definitely. Broccoli lovers will appreciate that it always has a good texture at No. 1 China, whether from the chicken and broccoli or the steamed seafood and vegetables, the latter of which is probably the closest thing they have to a signature dish. Also, the sweet and sour soup is some of the best in the greater Athens area, and there's also a soup made with seafood that I like very much.

As I've indicated, I'm a regular customer. I think you'll find it's worth a try the next time you're going anywhere on that stretch of US 78.

Monday, February 08, 2010

King Buffet, Nashville, TN

My first visit to Nashville would be incomplete without checking out local buffet. I wasn't interested in yet another Golden Corral or Shoney's but in something independently owned and operated. Because of our location, time of day and related contingencies, my friend Al and I chose the nearest all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant, Chinese-American establishment King Buffet, housed in a building that may well have been something like a Shoney's in origin.

We arrived early into the typical post-rush hour dinner period so, as we were escorted to our assigned table, we were greeted by the hot steam and welcoming aroma of freshly-made staples. Between the two of us, we were to discover that some items got priority over others. While I was pleased with the white rice, mixed vegetables (I never tried the steamed vegetables), chicken and broccoli, teriyaki chicken, baked crab meat and General Tso's chicken (and for once, I didn't have Mongolian beef because I saw none), Al found the wasabi to be bland, the French fries cold and the "Valentine chicken" to taste like battered chicken with only corn syrup added, too bland to be judged good or bad . He did like the baked turnip greens, although it slipped my mind to try them myself. They also offer sushi, which I didn't try and of which Al expressed no complaints. And the fried rice was good.

Overall, it's a fine place for an $8 meal if you just want a quick stop and don't hold lofty expectations. Some will eat only the staples that I was pleased with. Others will try the expanded selection and figure they got about what they paid for. And the cappuccino cakes were reasonably good, too.
SoBuff Reboot with Facebook Fan Page

Six years between updates is beyond slack, I'll grant, but SoBuff is back, both here and on Facebook.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Comeback: Golden Corral and Plantation Buffet

It really has been nine months since I've eaten at a buffet besides the ones I've covered in this blog. This hungry streak was broken twice over this past week.

While in Winder, Georgia on Monday, I ate at the Golden Corral, a chain that has yet to open a franchise in Athens. It's a lot better than Ryan's for food quality and dollar value. Some of the items avialable that simply aren't found elsewhere are broccoli and cheese casserole and boiled okra. The fried chicken is just as good as that made by specialty restaurants. The bakery is updated with fresh bread every 15 minutes, though I didn't eat any bread because that would have filled me up too soon. The only thing I didn't finish on my second plate was the poorly named "Awesome Pot Roast."

Plantation Buffet is a locally owned and operated southern buffet in Athens, located on Commerce Road next to the bypass. This is the kind of place that SoBuff is especially mandated to review. The selection is pure southern cooking. Better yet, it's a flat $7 for each person, tax included. Diners are nicely asked to "take what you want but eat what you take."

Both these places have a common flaw: the tables are too close together. It's a little tight in each place when going to and from the bar but this is easily forgiven and overlooked, as a successful southern buffet really needs to make all the room it can for a grateful clientele.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Double Repeat Gluttony

I'm not sure why but Saturday I ate at the Shoney's Breakfast Bar in the morning and the KFC Buffet in Monroe that evening. I guess it was a matter of convenience and dependability in both cases. Correcting my previous post, however, I found if you get the regular sized cup at the Monroe KFC, the total comes out to $6.30. To get a larger cup when it's all you can drink anyway is pointless so do your best to resist the habit of going for the large drink.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

KFC Buffet, Monroe, Georgia

I was very pleased to recently discover that the Monroe KFC is now a buffet location, as I'm there a good bit and it's closer than the one I know about in Madison. Also, the KFC website makes no distinction between regular and buffet locations in the store finder, so one has to come upon one to know where one is.

Anyway, it came out to a grand total of $6.52 with the larger cup for a drink. Of course you don't have to tip at places like KFC because those people make real hourly wages, unlike waitresses. Better yet, I was the very first customer of the day, sitting outside in the parking lot at 10:30 Sunday morning. I regret only that I can't go to it again right now.