Another Golden Corral

I am pushing this article ahead of some important other articles to follow the Golden Corral article which has been running here over the past two weeks. Since our visit to the Freehold, New Jersey Golden Corral we went to another Golden Corral - one that we have been to before. We took a day trip to Bethlehem, PA for the Christmas events that take place there in the weeks before Christmas and for dinner we decided to drive up to Whitehall, PA to the Golden Corral - one that I have written about here before. We went on a Saturday night two weekends before Christmas. This Golden Corral is in the back of a shopping center and the shopping center was very, very crowded. We arrived at the Golden Corral at about 6:30 pm.

We went in to find barely a line. There was a larger line later after we had gone in. The restaurant inside was busy but not hectic. One thing that is most important to note is that the price of the buffet on Saturday night - UNLIKE the Golden Corral in Freehold, NJ - was the new, as advertised price of $11.99 ($11.49 for seniors). A sign showed all of the supposed features as it had in Freehold.

On the buffet there were more items than at Freehold and a broader selection of things I expect to find at Golden Corral. There were several types of potatoes including French fries, homemade potato chips, mashed potatoes and baked potatoes. One different item was Italian Sausage and Peppers which, while greasy, was good. The riblets were more like baby back ribs than riblets but there was not as much meat on each rib as baby backs usually have. They were not bad. Similar to Freehold there was someone carving the larger ribs and they were carving one at a time though putting more than one on your plate if you asked. There was pulled pork and that was very good. The meatloaf was of a much better consistency than at Freehold and it held together rather than crumble. It was slightly spicy.The steak was good. The first one that I had was more well than anything close to rare, but the second one was close to perfect. It was crispy charred on the outside and reddish pink inside. It was a nicely seasoned steak. Again, as in New Jersey, the sign said that this was the new "Founder's Cut" of steak. It was done much better than what i had in Freehold, and I really enjoyed the this steak!  The pot roast here was large thick slices of beef - perhaps almost a half inch thick with vegetables on the side. The only thing disappointing on the main buffet was the corn pudding which looked very good but turned out to be no more than cornbread with whole kernels of corn throughout.

The night was not without a minor problem and that had to do with the dishes and utensils. I have not had this problem at this Golden Corral before and perhaps it was crowds during the day from the shoppers coming in and the dishwasher could not keep up. There were two many plates and silverware that was not totally clean - as in coming out of the dishwasher too soon. It took some picking through the silverware (more than the dishes) to find ones clean. The dining room and the buffet were clean - as were the rest rooms.

One thing that can be a problem at buffets are the employees who are in charge of getting food out. There was no problem here until we got to dessert. This is a tale to be told - and I will tell it. I will say from the start that I let this go as long as it did because I was curious as to what the outcome would be and because we were not in any hurry and not eager to get back on the road and head home. OK - we went up to the dessert counter for dessert. Again, there was a sign about the "Vegas Desserts" and I still have to wonder what makes them think that a slice of apple pie or a small slice of chocolate cake is a "Vegas dessert". My wife wondered if it was their putting the chocolate pudding in cups with whipped cream on top. I really don't know but that is aside from our story. So, we went up to see what to have and there really was nothing very enticing. There were little individual pumpkin pies and I was tempted to take that but then I remembered the good bread pudding that I had had. The tray of bread pudding had a spoonful or two of crumbs and needed to be replaced. If I was going to have it, I would wait for a new tray to come out and have a worthwhile dessert. There were two people behind the counter and they were actively working to get desserts out to the counter. We went back to the table and waited. About three minutes later another diner went up and scraped out the pan that I passed up and now the bread pudding was completely gone. As I say, I was in no hurry and I waited. After about fifteen minutes I went up to see if I missed the woman putting out a new tray. No she had not. I caught her attention and I asked her if more bread pudding was coming out. "Yes, it is on its way." Fine. I went back to the table and kept my eye on what was taking place behind the dessert counter. Time passed and we were just sitting there. Our server came over and asked if there was anything wrong - or if she could bring us tea, coffee, o more soda. I told her exactly what was happening. She was very apologetic and she told me she would go find out what happened to the bread pudding. She was very nice. We watched her behind the counter talking to the woman that I had spoken to. There was a lot of discussion and she then came back to our table. She said, "I have good news and I have bad news", trying to smile. OK - tell me it all was my response. Well, it turned out that yes, there was more bread pudding coming out, but it was in the oven and it takes over an hour and ten minutes to cook. There was still six minutes left for it to complete baking. This was now almost forty minutes and at least thirty minutes since I spoke with the woman at the dessert counter. She never said that it would be coming out in any lengthy amount of time. Our server apologized again and assured me that if I still wanted it, it would be out very soon now. All together I waited forty five minutes for the bread pudding to come out. Again - I had decided to wait this out from the start. When it did come out it took another five minutes for it to cool to be placed out on the counter. I went right up and took a bowl. Our server saw that it came out and came right over to be sure I had it and commented that she hoped it was worth the wait. It was. Now, what does this tell me is wrong? What is wrong here is if it is early in the evening dinner service and something that takes over an hour goes out on the buffet another needs at that same time to go into cook - if not earlier. When one tray empties there should always be another ready to come out - whether this is the dessert station or the hot foods or the salad bar. And there should be a manager supervising to make sure that this takes place. During the course of this time a manager had been behind the dessert counter talking to the two people working there but it was obvious from the outcome that it did not make any difference. Management and the employees are the heart and lifeblood of a buffet restaurant. Usually Golden Corral is better than many others. Anyway - if you want bread pudding take it when you see it.

I have to make a special note about our server. Her name is Erin and she was excellent. She is the best servers we have ever had at a Golden Corral. She went above and beyond with us and all of the tables she was taking care of that night. I commend her and I hope that someone at Golden Corral corporate is reading this as this young woman deserves a raise! You can really tell when someone looks upon their job as something to get done and away from or really cares about doing a good job. Erin really cared about doing her job well.

Overall - good dinner. It was a good meal despite the dishwasher problem (as I say it has not been that way here before in OUR experience) and the wait for bread pudding (definitely a problem with the people behind the dessert counter not anticipating need). We are in this area infrequently and it will be many months before we will be back but we will be going back to the Whitehall, PA Golden Corral.

This Golden Corral is located at 900 Lehigh Valley Mall Drive in Whitehall, PA 18052. The phone number is (610) 443-0866. The chain's website is linked on the side of this page. This restaurant is just northeast of Allentown, PA. If coming west on I78 it is easiest to go past to where I22 and I78 join and come back a short distance to the exit for the mall and this restaurant, rather than drive north through the streets of the City of Allentown.