East Earl, PA – We visited the “famous” Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl (Also known as Weaverlandia) yesterday. After hearing many people rave about it we finally decided to check it out. Just outside New Holland, Shady Maple is a little off the beaten path but still easy to get to from Lancaster.
We arrived to find a packed parking lot and a stream of people waiting outside to get in. Looking at the crowd, which looked like a Type 2 Diabetes Convention, we were thinking there must be something to the hype.
There was a waiting line but Shady Maple is a machine getting people seated and turning tables and our wait was only about 20 minutes. The hostess who seated us said they average more than 1,000 people a day. The restaurant was clean and they are very well prepared to manage a large crowd.
You pay before you are seated and gratuity is included in the price. The total for two adults and two children was $69.63. Presumably a good price for the heavenly food that was prepared for us.
The layout of the smorgasbord is well done minimizing the wait and staff is on hand to swap out trays after the fat guy from New Jersey decides to help himself with his hands. There was soup and salad bar, traditional American-style food, steaks made-to-order, and a station that served seafood. There was also staple child food – chicken strips, hot dogs, fried shrimp, etc.
My wife headed straight to the leaded section and returned with steak, mashed potatoes, and fried chicken while I went to the seafood station.
I am a fan of fish. Big fan. What I witnessed was a crime against salmon. They were slapping sizable filets of salmon on a flat top and cooking the living crap out of them. Served with a dill sauce many people seemed enthused but I could not bring myself to participate in the salmon crime so I went for the crab and scallop stuffed flounder.
The flounder was ‘okay’ but the stuffing was undercooked. My wife enjoyed the mashed potatoes (who doesn’t, right?) but the chicken was overcooked and she was not certain it was really steak that she was served. I ate around the stuffing and my wife took a few bites of the steak and chicken.
We made a second attempt where my wife had some roast beef and I helped myself to the soup and salad bar. The Fire Chicken soup was good and the salad was fresh and she was satisfied with the roast beef. We followed this up with a visit to the dessert section. Note: Avoid the cheesecake.
The children picked there way through the chicken fingers and fried shrimp and enjoyed their ice cream covered in every thing they could put on it.
Overall we were quite underwhelmed. My wife likened Shady Maple to an over-priced and crowded Golden Corral and I agree. The selection my be larger at Shady Maple but the quality is quite similar. Though Golden Corral offers a price advantage without the crowd and drive.
REVIEWERS NOTE: I will NEVER go to Golden Corral ever again.
The word ‘Smorgasbord’ does not lend itself to fine dining so you pretty much know what you are getting into as far as atmosphere. If your taste buds have been damaged by years of smoking filterless cigarettes or you have a tape worm, Shady Maple may the place to get your glutton on.
However, I guess if you are looking to have the Shady Maple ‘experience’ as we were, then make the trip.