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Lititz Family Cupboard Restaurant & Buffet | Lititz, PA

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Lititz Family Cupboard Restaurant & Buffet
12 W. Newport Rd. (map it!)
Lititiz, PA 17543
(717) 626-9102
Open Mon-Sat, 6a-8p (bfast buffets served Mon-Fri, 6:30-11:30a; Sat, 6-11a)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? N/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.

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Anywhere you find yourself in Amish/Pennsylvania Dutch country, you are bound to find the one or more of the large “Dutch-cooking” family restaurants. Across Ohio we have a handful of Der Dutchmen in addition to more stand-alone country cookin’ restaurants. If you’re traveling with a large group (like we were), then these restaurants are a godsend because they have huge seating areas, plenty of food that is restocked constantly, and servers that are accustomed to big families. Seriously, we walked up on a busy Saturday and asked for a table for 15 and the host didn’t even blink.

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One of the bonuses of finding an Amish-cooking restaurant: the donuts. You will generally find them in a restaurant and in a separate bakery space. They are soft, generously frosted, cream-filled delights, most likely because they’re made with lard.

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Prepare yourself for gratuitous breakfast buffet pictures ahead. There’s no easy way to capture the full buffet experience, with its stacks of plates and steaming trays and busy lines. So I snapped pictures of everything. They had all the standards: pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, toast.

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Plus the buffet version of French toast: sticks.

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What’s more interesting are the interesting regional specialties like pan pudding, cornmeal cakes, and chipped beef.

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What did draw our attention were the nutty cinnamon rolls. This is one of those rare moments when a buffet’s consistent heating of the food really pays off. The constant warmth keep the rolls soft and sticky, and the blend of cinnamon, sugar, and walnuts really hit the nail on the head.

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And if you’re in eastern PA then you need to have some scrapple. I was pleasantly surprised by the buffet scrapple. It was fried crispy without getting soggy, and it was seasoned well. Of course, if the scrapple is going to be good anywhere, it had better be in eastern Pennsylvania, buffet or not.

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Yessssssss! There were those donuts at the buffet, too! Worth the price of admission alone.

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Plate #1. Covering the basics, plus some cornmeal cakes and chipped beef gravy.

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Plate #2. French toast sticks, regular French toast, scrapple, and a cinnamon roll.

The Lititz Family Cupboard doesn’t stand out too much from similar restaurants, but it served our purpose and had a few bright spots. The servers were super on-the-spot, the buffet was stocked quickly, and it served up plenty of comfort food. It would be a great start to a day exploring Lititz, just named Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Town in America!

Lititz Family Cupboard Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Der Dutchman | Plain City, OH

Der Dutchman (Facebook)
445 S. Jefferson Route 42 (map it!)
Plain City, OH 43064
(614) 873-3414
Open Mon-Thurs, 6 am – 8 pm; Fri & Sat, 6 am – 9 pm (bfast served until 11)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? N/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Saturday, February 26, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Alton Brown once said, in the opening of his miniseries Feasting on Asphalt, that a good restaurant, above all, will not deny its DNA. Meaning that a restaurant should always be true to what it really is. If you’re a hot dog stand, he said, be a hot dog stand. Don’t try to be a BBQ joint. Be honest with what you do, and do that well. More and more, I find this is true, especially for breakfast joints. Some of my favorite places aren’t very sophisticated. They’re not that original. They serve food that you can find in thousands of restaurants across the country. But when they’re true to themselves, and honest to their customers about what they really do, the result is delightful. This is why die-hard fans treat the average neighborhood diner like a mecca for haute cuisine: because the restaurant is honest about what it does, and customers can accept and love it for what it is, and nothing more.

Such is true for Der Dutchman. It’s a giant restaurant with parking for tour buses. It’s a prime example of that genre of restaurant labeled Amish or Dutch. They serve simple comfort food in large portions. And we love it.

ATMOSPHERE: I had one request for my birthday this year: to eat at Der Dutchman’s breakfast buffet. So a large group of friends and family (nineteen in all, yo!) joined me on the twenty-five minute trek out to Plain City, Ohio. Even on a busy Saturday morning, when we called about 30 minutes ahead, we were still seated fairly quickly. It’s a testament to Der Dutchman’s ability to handle large groups that the waiting area is so large.

Here we are at the table. Nineteen of us. They didn’t bat an eye.

The dining room is extensive and infinitely arrangeable. The largest portion can be subdivided into smaller rooms.

It’s a busy place. Lots of people. Lots of servers. Lots of food.

FOOD: And behold, the glorious breakfast buffet. It’s a breakfast blogger’s dream: scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, French toast, potatoes, sausage gravy, grits, and all of the accoutrement. Piles and piles of it, in a piping hot buffet. There’s something for everyone (although vegetarians and vegans may be hard-pressed).

There are actually two buffet lines, and you can approach each from either side. Clearly designed to handle the crowds.

Mmm… large bins for bacon.

Funky jellied fruit desserts.

A visit to Der Dutchman wouldn’t be complete without a taste of their donuts. The restaurant has a separate in-house bakery with cakes, bread, and pastries (see below for pics). They helpfully cut the longjohns into manageable sections; otherwise, you’d be stuffing yourself on a single donut. (If you’re a fan of Der Dutchman’s donuts – which you should be – look in the upper right hand corner of their bakery’s website to download a PDF telling you where to find them in Columbus. I recommend Hills Market for a stop.)

Plate #1: scrambled eggs, fried corn mush, potatoes, sausage gravy, a biscuit, some bacon, a piece of donut.

Plate #2: more scrambled eggs and sausage gravy, pancakes, French toast sticks.

Plate #3 (don’t hate me – it’s a buffet and it was my birthday): sausage gravy, mush, bacon, sausage links, and some lava hot raspberry crumble. All of the food is good. Not exceptional, but good. The eggs, for instance, are a tad undercooked so they don’t dry out in the buffet. The bacon and sausage is simple. Sausage gravy is chunky and well seasoned. Fried mush is crispy and oily. You won’t find any surprises in the buffet, but there’s plenty here to satisfy the breakfast lover.

As an added bonus to the experience my wife and our friend Libby (who runs the bakery at Hills Market) made me a special breakfast diner birthday cake. Everything on it was edible. The folks at Der Dutchman were kind enough to let us bring it in.

If you’re not full enough, you can stop by the bakery for more donuts. I’m surprised there’s not a checkpoint in northwest Columbus, at which armed guards require you to show a box of Der Dutchman donuts if you’re traveling in from Plain City. Like everything else they do, Der Dutchman donuts are big and tasty.

SERVICE: In order to run their buffets successfully, Der Dutchman employs a veritable army of servers, all wearing these slightly outdated red aprons. But they handle the crowds smoothly. I was amazed that our entire table had ONE server dedicated to it. She hardly flinched. Do note, though, that with big groups they can split checks, but they’ll calculate your tip, too, at only 10%. Make sure you tip appropriately.

OVERALL: Der Dutchman is true to its DNA. Nothing fancy. Lots of comfort food. Served in bulk. With a bakery and a gift shop attached. Be a good tourist and pay it a visit.

Der Dutchman on Urbanspoon

Cotter’s Restaurant | Columbus, OH

UPDATE: Cotter’s Restaurant is now closed!

Cotter’s Restaurant
200 W. Nationwide Blvd. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 221-9060
Open Mon-Fri, 11 am – 10 pm; Sat, 4-10 pm; Sun for special events only
Accepts cash and credit cards

Date of Visit: Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 1:00 p.m.

(In the interest of full disclosure I want to say that this meal was complimentary of the kind folks from Cotter’s Restaurant!)

IMPRESSIONS: My wife and I visited Cotter’s Restaurant (my first time, actually) on Valentine’s Day for their special brunch. Cotter’s is known for their lunches and dinners – my wife’s on-going favorite is their mushroom soup – and is situated in the Arena District in the southwest corner of Nationwide Arena itself. You can hit them up for brunch on special occasions like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, and more. The restaurant itself is part of Vito’s Catering, a Columbus-based catering business that does some top-notch work.

ATMOSPHERE: As fitting of the rounded corner of the arena, Cotter’s layout is in a wide circle, with the bar stretching across the outside of the building. Tall windows let in a lot of light.

The place was decorated for Valentine’s Day, complete with pink and red napkins. Very comfortable and romantic atmosphere. Valentine’s Day this year landed on a Sunday, and while I mostly think of Valentine’s meaning going out in the evening, Cotter’s managed that same close and comfortable feeling, even on a bright afternoon.

FOOD: For this special occasion brunch, the food was laid out in a large buffet, with a big enough selection for anyone. The buffet looked really good, especially for so late in the day. I usually avoid breakfast buffets because you start seeing a film over everything. It’s no fun pouring separated sausage gravy over stale biscuits. Fortunately, this was not the case here!

Because we tasted so many things, I’ll just have to list some of what we tried with brief descriptions.

The buffet started out with the standard fruit and pastries. I tried a very good blueberry scone.

Roasted veggies. The Brussels sprouts in particular were amazing.

Delicious applewood-smoked bacon. It held up very well despite being on a buffet line – a testament to how well it was cooked at first.

Potato bake with cheddar cheese. Good choice for serving potatoes on a buffet.

One of my favorite elements of the buffet: a puff pastry with sausage and cheddar cheese (there was a veggie option, too). Great balance of crispy and buttery pastry with spicy sausage and sharp cheddar.

Honey-glazed ham.

Boneless baked chicken – another favorite. Again, it stayed very moist and flavorful. Chicken like this is so easily dried out, but this fared well. I went back for a couple more pieces.

My least favorite was the pan-seared salmon. This one item didn’t do too well on the buffet line – it tasted fine, but it was dried out. Fish and buffets often don’t mix well.


Great brunch complement: blood orange mimosas. Wonderful citrusy twang with a lovely sugary sweetness.

Montage of plates…


Tiaramisu for dessert! Very delicate, and delicious!

Manager Reed Woogerd sat and chatted with us for a while. He shared a number of their plans for future months, and treated us to some of his house-made ginger beer, made with honey sugar, lemon juice, and champagne yeast. Very sweet and refreshing – it will be amazing to sit on the patio and drink this come spring/summer.

SERVICE: Service was great! We were of course treated very well. We had opportunities to chat with both Woogerd and Kristen Hurd, head of Sales & Marketing at Cotter’s. Both seem very passionate about their work, and we learned a lot about their special events. As I said earlier, Cotter’s does brunch on special occasions like holidays, but they also do monthly wine tastings, and rotate their menu about every three months.

OVERALL: In addition to being one of Columbus’ great lunch and dinner spots (I imagine their patio in spring/summer would be constantly tempting if you work in the Arena District), Cotter’s offers a solid brunch – a great one especially for special occasions.

OTHER LINKS:

Cotters Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Porter’s Steakhouse | Chattanooga, TN

Porter’s Steakhouse
827 Broad St. (inside in Read House Sheraton) (map it!)
Chattanooga, TN 37402
(423) 643-1240
Breakfast 7:30-10:30 a.m. (buffet on Saturday and Sunday)
Accepts cash, credit cards

Date of Visit: Saturday, January 19 & Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 10 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Porter’s Steakhouse is primarily an upscale restaurant attached to the Read House Sheraton, an historic hotel now owned by the Sheraton chain. The hotel itself is amazing – a mix of classic architecture with modern amenities. Beth and I stayed here on our recent visit to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the quality of the hotel ready made the trip. Porter’s has made a name for itself as a steakhouse; apparently their peppercorn steak is famous. I don’t know if Porter’s breakfast is open to the public, or reserved just for hotel guests. We didn’t have to show a room card, and you can access the restaurant from the hotel lobby, so I’m guessing it’s opening to anyone.

Beth and I visited on a Saturday and Sunday morning, when Porter’s does a breakfast buffet. My understanding is that you can order a regular breakfast at that time, too, but most patrons opted for the buffet. The menu online lists fruit, pastries, eggs, meat, potatoes, grits, a waffle station, and biscuits and gravy. In actuality, the buffet had French toast instead of the waffles (and waffle stations are so exciting, aren’t they?).

ATMOSPHERE: The atmosphere is mostly that of an upscale restaurant, with a dash of buffet thrown in. Now this definitely isn’t a Golden Corral/Ponderossa type of buffet (read: long lines of overweight people stuffing themselves with crab legs), but it is a buffet nonetheless. Still, you do get the feeling of eating in a nicer restaurant: cloth napkins and table clothes, high-backed chairs, well-dressed waiters, a host to greet you, and the like. It fits with the overall atmosphere of the hotel.

FOOD: There are always downfalls to buffets, but Porter’s manages to avoid most of them. In fact, it’s one of better breakfast buffets I can recall trying, although my preference is definitely for traditional fare. Buffets are handy if you want to try a bunch of things, or if you want more of one item than another. But they usually mean that food sits longer before it is eaten, or that it’s made generically from pre-packaged items. That was the case with a few of the items at Porter’s.

Here’s a basic run-down of what we tried and what we thought. Probably the best part was the fruit: crisp melon and pineapple, fresh strawberries. Beth was a big fan of those. That’s great for a buffet, and in January. The potatoes were fine (again with the onions and peppers – a Southern thing? Some tell me.). The scrambled eggs were good, depending one where you scooped. If you found the right spot, you get them just the way I like them: just a tad runny. If you looked to the sides of the tray, you get them too dry. The grits were a little greasy, the biscuits quite good, and the sausage gravy above-average, as were the bacon and sausage. I opted for the sausage links over the patties. I just don’t trust sausage meat in patty form…

The French toast was too dry the first day, but nice and melty the second. Again, you never know with buffets.

Drinks such as coffee (which was very nice), apple juice, cranberry juice, and milk are included. There’s also cold cereal (mostly Kellogg’s stuff) in little single-serving containers.

SERVICE: At Porter’s you’re welcomed with a smile by the host, seated promptly, and given the same amount of attention as you would be given in a regular restaurant. You are on your own to go up and get your food. So if you’re hungry, there’s nothing stopping you! The restaurant was never too busy while we were there, and the crew kept the buffet well-stocked.

OVERALL: I usually don’t seek out buffets for breakfast (although they’re appealing, no?), and I found myself surprised to review one. And while Porter’s hasn’t made a name for itself for its breakfast buffet, theirs is certainly above-average. They limit the menu adequately, if only to keep themselves from having to cook so many items. If you’re staying in Chattanooga (especially at the Read House), it’s a great way to begin the day.

Porters Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

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