Eatin Out - All You Can Eat
Not really seen in the U.K. to
this degree... This form of Restaurant will become a
part of your holiday, especially if you have a family.
Also know as All You Care to Eat or just Buffet Dining.
There are many, many of these establishments - The main concept for
Lunch & Dinner is that you buy some combination of main course or an
empty plate and then go to a series of Buffet Bars... and help
Breakfasts are an open buffet. Usually the only thing you will order
is an Omelette and that is only to ensure it is as
fresh and fluffy as possible.
It's wonderful, but you would be amazed as to how
different it feels and how uncomfortable you can get about how it
First things first - Watch out for coupons giving a free breakfast,
kids eat free etc. Not just in low season, there are summer specials
to tempt you in.
Kids just go mad, once they get the idea and loose any inhibitions,
running around loading up with chicken nuggets mainly. Adults though
need some extra help.
You will see people starring blankly at menus before they order,
after they order and when they leave, trying to figure it out 'after
the event'... They also sit with this empty plate before them not
knowing quite what to do. Waiters seem to drift past with a smirk
sometimes unable to explain to you what to do next, you know that
these people are Brits...
Lets take you through two similar, yet different, places and give
you an idea of how it works.
No special preference given or harsh criticism
intended. They both have many more good points than bad,
value for money
and both serve 3 meals a day, every day...
Evening Meal and Breakfast
Ponderosa for an
Evening Meal -
At Ponderosa you buy a main course item, Steak, Chicken, Fish etc.
Called an Entrée, with potatoes or
rice and are then given a plate to take selections from the buffet.
As you enter a Ponderosa you are presented with a
menu of entrées
and here you try to decide what you want as the main part of your
Note - Kids older than 6 and under
10 can just buy the Buffet and don't have to have the entrée. This
them to just choose what they want.
Under 5's each eat free when an adult pays for one meal.
If you order steak you will be asked as to how you
it cooked. There is a photo chart showing various stages of cooking
and you can pick from this if you are not sure where
rare ends and medium begins.
Ordering over, you move to a waiting area from where your
or waitress will escort you to a
table. There will be a moment or two of fluster while they set out
the table before you and ask what you want
to drink. Standard stuff here, cola, fizzy orange, 7-Up are
to as 'sodas'. Ice tea is good but not sweet, it's way too sweet...
You should get some instruction as to what
to do next but I have never heard it said slow enough
to get a grasp on it. Plus, they will usually only
say it to the party 'leader'. If you are new to this or in your
early days of a first USA visit, you
may catch one or two words but not the meaning.
It is from this point onward that you see tables of 'obvious' Brits
sitting looking sheepish and confused.
You have been deserted and left with a drink and an empty plate...
Well, you take the plate to the buffet and try to fit on as much as
you can. You start all shy and embarrassed
right up until you come across
something you really like.
me it's always the ability to mix Blue Cheese and Thousand Island
dressing over a salad crammed with tiny tomatoes
After you have filled your plate, you look up and
that that was just one bar... There are others. Chicken bits,
Mexican, Italian, Breads it just goes
on and on.
Back to the table and with the same amazed smile that every new AYCE
user has, you tuck in. Happy in the fact that you will go back and
get more in a minute.
After about 30 -45 minutes you will be given a plate containing the
entrée you ordered.
Ah, forgot about that... Remember how you ordered that huge steak
that you would never be able to afford back home. Well, now you have
to eat it...
Just take your time. At this point you realize
that eating here for you and your kids is a different experience.
They have either moved on to unlimited ice cream with Oreo Cookie
bits or are so tired and full that they can't even speak.
Still, you battle on and finish most
of your steak!
Hmm - Desert. What a selection... How do they ever expect you to eat
all this. Well, they don't and
try to. Plan your next trip. Pick what you like, and in small
You may feel that you are being hurried to leave after about an hour
of being here. You can stay as long as
you want and order as many drinks and
get as much from the buffet as you like. The staff though do seem to
have a good idea when you have had enough.
Tipping - As with all US restaurants, tipping is part of the
staffs pay - so be nice!
What have we learned
from this experience?
Starve everybody, all day long... Not easy to do when every day is
packed with ever more yummy things. But seriously, eat big at
breakfast, graze for lunch and eat lazily
at night. If you are spending your
stay in a Hotel, you don't want to spend hours staring at each
other, so use your evening meal as a wind-down, fill-up time and try
and get the kids back to the Hotel just before they
It's another day of walking round theme parks tomorrow... At least
Breakfast at The
Golden Corral -
Note Orlando Restaurants only currently have
Breakfast at the weekend
The reason for doing these two this way around is that Breakfast is
a much more informal affair. We have eaten at various establishments
for Breakfast and they almost all have
a similar easy format.
Golden Corral certainly seem to have cornered the market on having
biggest buffet islands
that I have ever seen...
Before you enter, check to see if you have any coupons. You do keep
your coupon books in the car? (or in the wife's shoulder bag, sorry
dear!). Expect kids younger than 10 to eat free. If
you haven't got a coupon or don't see an advert then just ask. You
have been here a few days now... Be bold.
Here, you just buy admission and then pick up a plate. The only
thing you 'order' here is an omelet
cooked to your liking. Bacon, sausage,
eggs, lot's of different types and some amazing
combinations that may blow your mind.
Among the strangest but easily palatable is to mix
Try pancakes or waffles with hash browns and lot's of bacon drowned
in maple syrup.
Stranger to our palate
You may stumble at biscuits (look like scones, but taste more like
doughy bread) and gravy
(a kind of white sauce with a slight taste of
else. Basically it's a mushroom & sausage soup type thing).
The way to eat this it to pour the gravy
over a biscuit and sausage and tuck in. Very Southern.
Checkout the yellow gritty looking stuff too. This is 'Grits', a
courser corn grind than corn meal. If
you don't fancy Corn Meal in a semi-liquid
form, look for Corn Bread. A yellow looking bread
usually in small rolls. Have it either just a bite at a time
with melted butter or with some Apple Jelly.
Ooh, well yummy!
The best way to do this is just get everything and be surprised,
most times for the best, by the taste combinations...
There is a huge selection of breakfast cereals and
and breads and... jelly. Yep, that's what
Drinks are serve yourself,
except for coffee which is where
your waitress will come in to play. They will generally
around and clear away as you finish
up. Again, don't think they are
rushing you... I am told they are not doing this at
all. You may feel otherwise.
Grab a few minutes to finish that cup
and plan your assault on today's
The kids have probably
to the games machines or to check out the toilets just one more
time... Don't forget your gratuity!
All You Can Eat is certainly a
experience, but be warned...
Sodas are usually a little thinner than you would expect and the
food can be very 'mass produced' in it's appearance and taste.
Still, what the heck, you don't eat like this every day of your
life... Do you?
Now, go walk it all off. Only another
8 or so hours before we start again...
Diet when you get home - O.K.