Miss Birdie and her flock of three birdies (12, 8, and 6 years of age) and one husband-bird, dined at Golden Corral in December 2011. From a reliable source, we had heard that going Monday through Wednesday is the best bet, so a Wednesday night it was.
The all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant opened in August, with eager diners creating lines out the door. Upon entering, we realized why such a craze was stirred: directly in front of us stood the grill area where meats, poultry, and seafood aplenty were being sliced or even cooked-to-order. (Golden Corral actually plans the meal's menu to include 15 different proteins at a time!)
But let me pause: we still had not yet paid nor found a seat before this cornucopia of aromatics hit us. Mr. Birdie had already grabbed cups of frothy carbonated beverages before realizing they were not included in the meal price, which a customer would not know unless they had taken the time to read the television screen denoting the current meal's pricing and discounts based on age. As we met the cashier, I was frozen in a moment of panic, trying to recall the ages of my three kids, and under which pricing tier they would fall. $40 and two minutes later, we were still standing at the register, feeling like we were holding up the entire gaggle of hungry customers behind us, while an employee found us seats.
We had gone for dinner, and a late dinner at that. The restaurant was packed solidly, with a serious line queuing at the grill and the dessert bar. Greens before sweets, of course, but sadly, much of the salad bar was emptied of its bounty. The kids hit the one section of the hot foods area that could appropriately be titled "deep-fried goods" and stocked up on mini corn dogs, fried zucchini, and what they thought were chicken bites but turned out to be fried shrimp.
I, myself, am not a patient wait-in-line sorta gal, so I bypassed the exotic cuisines where a throng of people ogled foods through sneeze guards (Mexican and Asian fare is offered) and helped myself to a few tong grabs of romaine, spinach, and mushrooms, a slice of garlic cheese pizza bread, and the Cajun Potato Salad. Typically, I shy away from mass-produced, mayo-based salads — but this! — this potato salad was the business! One of the stars in my review is dedicated solely to the potato salad.
Dedication of star number two goes to the dessert bar, where the self-serve chocolate fountain and made-to-order cotton candy was readily available. The kids were in awe of it all: cake, pie, crispy rice treats, soft-serve ice cream, hand-scooped ice cream... it went on and on.
I have to be honest here: Golden Corral is a buffet, not a high-end, white tablecloth type restaurant. What you see is literally what you get. The staff is always, always busy, either cleaning your empty plates away or cooking and restocking food with which you will fill your next plate. Everyone in your party — large or small — will certainly find something to eat at Golden Corral. You will not leave hungry!