Sunday, 24 May 2015

Let's all go to Shady Maple!


This week a friend and I went out to a place called Shady Maple, which is a very popular farmers' market and smorgasbord, with an all-you-can-eat buffet and grill service to suit all tastes and enthusiastic palates!

Not just ANY smorgasbord, but Lancaster County's largest one, which boasts over 200 feet of authentic Pennsylvania Dutch cooking - and believe me, it is HUGE!

We loaded my two youngest children into the car and set off to be there in time for lunch, paid for our tickets at the door and waited to be seated - the price is around $13.95 per adult, $6.95 per child over 4, with a younger kids eat free deal, senior citizen prices and a FREE meal on your birthday (with an accompanying adult meal purchase). 

We were seated extremely quickly, right on a corner table, close to the food and with a high-chair that was just right for the youngest of our bunch, Bronson. The table was laden with all the cutlery and condiments needed for all and there was nothing to do but to grab ourselves a plate and start selecting from the food. 

And boy, was there ever some food on offer! There were crab cakes, cod, tempura shrimp, beef, pork, seafood croquettes, hot dogs, roasts, many different cheeses, eggs made to order in whichever way you'd like - omelet, benedict, plain, on English muffins, without muffins at all, with soups, salads, rolls, side vegetables, curried vegetables, yams, hams, mashed potatoes, beans, mac and cheese, every kind of vegetable, you name it, the list goes on! 

And then there are desserts! Oh my! The desserts are everyone's favourite part of the meal and they had canoli, lemon meringue, raspberry pie, ice cream cake, cookies, coconut cream pie, chocolate cream pie, several kinds of ice cream, tons of ice cream toppings - desserts for days, for sure and enough choice to make your head spin - my favourite was the creamy pina colada! 

If you wanted bread, they had you covered there, too - not just a plain old roll, either, no! They had raspberry, peach, jalapeno, cheese and cinnamon breads, with several others I can't even remember - but they were all so delicious looking and it was hard to choose which ones to try this time around! 

Shady Maple doesn't let you down on the drinks front, either! They have everything from coffee to tea, water and juices, slushies in several flavors and sodas and chocolate milk, regular milk, other milks and beverages to warm you up or cool you down and everything you need for a sweet treat! 

Now, the rules for eating here are very simple - you can eat whatever you like and however much you like but once you are done with a plate you leave it to the side to be cleared and then you go up and get another. You can revisit the food as many times as you like for the time period for which you are eating (lunch is 11am until 3pm) and you must not take any food with you when you leave. When you are done eating, you just turn your receipt over on the table at which you are/were seated and leave! You're all set to go!

We must have sat at lunch for a good 2 hours, with everyone trying a little of whatever they fancied. I had eggs benedict, which was made in front of my eyes and, which tasted delicious. I am a huge fan of eggs and this was by far the best they've ever come to my table! 

As well as the eggs, I tried a little of the shrimp, the beef, pork and vegetables, snuck in a few fries and beans and mac and cheese and the usual, but the great thing about taking along the children is that they usually want whatever is on my plate and so whatever I pick up, I rarely would eat it all, and thus it felt like I was eating more than I was and that works great for me and my insides, while the kids eat more than they realise and do themselves a favour eating a good fill for the day! 

My children actually are so well behaved when we go to eat out, and we do it not-so-often because I prefer to cook at home, and so this is always a real treat for them, wherever we end up, but an extra special lunch when they can pick and choose whatever they desire! 

My daughter, Autumn, had some mac and cheese, chicken, broccoli and fries, chocolate milk and then a slushy. She tried some pizza and some cheeses and breads and was quite impressed that you could fill a bowl with fresh cream with the touch of a button and eat that right up with a spoon on its own if you wished! She tried some raspberry ice cream for dessert and sprinkled it with several different toppings and her face was a picture, I think she tried a fresh apple doughnut as well, and maybe a touch of ice cream cake, but didn't eat through all of what she had in total, but rather took bites of everything and didn't go too crazy, which is fine by me and just her style! As long as she's eating, I'm a happy bunny! 

My youngest, Bronson, is the one no one expects will eat much, but my sweet boy will eat just about anything you put in front of him - he just LOVES food. If you give him a steak I am sure it would be devoured in seconds, but alas, we loaded him up with foods that he could eat with his hands and that weren't too messy and let him have-at-it with anything he wanted to try (on my plate, or his). 

Bronson seemed to love my mac and cheese, and ate through most of what was on his plate, plus some cheeses and bread - the boy loves his cheese, just like his dad and he would probably just have sat and ate broccoli and cheese all day if I'd have let him! I filled up his cup with juice and he was happy just joining in the fun and even tried a canoli for the first time, which he seemed to have the most fun time with! 

My friend recommends trying the beef if you are ever at Shady Maple - and I agree, it really is some GREAT shredded beef to get into and it tastes succulent and juicy and even better with a splash of gravy! 

I just don't have the words to tell you just how wonderful this place is, but when they are seating hundreds of guests per day, and it takes 5 minutes to walk from one end of the buffet to the other and you're surrounded by 5 or 6 grill/cooking stations to make things for you as you'd like, tens of drink stations and hundreds of desserts, then you know you're in the right place and are certainly getting a LOT for your money!  

I absolutely recommend taking a trip out to Shady Maple if you are ever in Pennsylvania - you are going to love it there, and you can walk off all the food downstairs, after, in this gigantic gift shop! The farmers market is a stones-throw away, too and you can take a whole day out down there and really have a fabulous time. 

It also helps that Shady Maple is just 20 minutes, if that, from BB's Grocery Outlet, which is one of my favourite places to shop, but that is a story for another time!

7 Tips for eating at Shady Maple: 

  • Go on an empty stomach, you're going to need a lot of room in there if you want to get the most bang for your buck!
  • Go on your birthday, or a friends birthday and split the check! Birthday guests get a free meal with a paying adult and [instead of you not paying] just split the check for the equivalent of 2 half price meals and you both win!
  • Make sure you walk to both sides of the buffet! They have 2 sections but they are not exactly the same and so one end might have something a little different to the other and it is worth a look! 
  • Remember to check out the grilling/cooking stations for food cooked to your taste and fresh in front of your eyes and they'll make the food however you like (within reason, and with what is available!). 
  • Drink water or juice instead of soda or fizzy water - fizzy anything will fill you up and you will feel fuller and more uncomfortable quicker. Stick to water or juice, or throw in a cup of coffee - maybe save anything fizzy for last! 
  • Why not pick up several different desserts and share around the table? This way you get to try a selection of everything with little going to waste! 
  • Take your time, enjoy the food and the company and take a walk around the gift shop downstairs after your meal to walk off some of said meal, and to pick up a few souvenirs! 

Go hungry, leave stuffed, and smile! Take a trip down to Shady Maple, in East Earl, P.A., today! 

Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with Shady Maple, I just really love their food and all opinions are my own :)


mcraema1 said...

I think I gained 5 pounds just reading this! :)

fee roberts said...

I love all you can eat restaurants. I always attacked the salad bar first.