Buffets used to be called smorgasbords and people would go there a few times a year with family. Suddenly, we plateaued and the basic smorgasbord wasn't good enough.
The next evolution was the steakhouse/buffet hybrid. Earlier versions of Golden Corral, Sizzler, Ponderosa, and Bonanza sold you a steak for $8 - $15 and for an extra $5 - $7, you could add the buffet. In some places you could order the buffet, then pay extra to have a steak brought out, which I think was Golden Corral's early model.
But that wasn't good enough after a while...
The next evolution was steak night. On Friday & Saturday nights, patrons got free steak(and seafood) with their buffets. This was popular enough to be expanded to every night. The latest evolution is the addition of breakfast on the weekends.
My apartment's cooktop doesn't work, so I've been eating out more than I should. I stopped at Golden Corral last weekend and saw that they were serving Thanksgiving Dinner starting at 9am.
"How sad." I thought. All those lonely people forced to settle for Golden Corral on Thanksgiving Dinner.
As fate would have it, I decided not to go to my aunt's for Thanksgiving due to car issues.
So I headed to the Golden Corral in the East Columbus suburb of Whitehall.
First of all, it was packed. It was busier than I have ever seen a Golden Corral. Inside, I notice all the people, who completely defy the stereotype which buffet patrons have unfairly earned.
I saw all shapes and sizes of people from a wide variety of backgrounds. There were families, singles, young, old, white black, Asian, Latino. Everyone.
People were happy too, talking to each other, laughing. It wasn't sad. At all.
Then there was the food.
Despite it being Thanksgiving, I went for a fried chicken thigh which, for the record, is the best cut of chicken. Golden Corral's chicken is usually... Ok. It's a buffet, so it's normally greasy from being piled together with the breading broken off.
This was easily the best fried chicken I have ever had at a Golden Corral. Not the best ever, though. Full disclosure, I worked at KFC for 7 years, so that is the best fried chicken when I cook it. That Golden Corral chicken was a close second though.
The steak (yes, you can still get steak on Thanksgiving) was better than it normally is and just a step below a steakhouse.
The turkey I had was fucking devine. I went with the pan of pulled dark meat instead of the carved breast. They left bits of the skin mixed in with the turkey, which may sound gross, but was incredible.
I also had chicken wings coated in a plum sauce, which were some of the best wings I've ever had.
I think the reason things went so good was because they were ready. It was all hands on deck and not too different from KFC on Mother's Day, which is that chain's busiest day. The food was turning over so fast that nothing sat out for more than a few minutes.
The employees weren't stressed or panicked or angry with the capacity crowd- all were friendly.
I know you missed it for this year, but I highly recommend Golden Corral for next year. Also, give them a shot next weekend while you're out Christmas shopping. They're better when they're busy.