Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hometown Buffet: Yay or Nay?

I am a food-aholic. I love eating new foods, the same foods, sweet foods, and meat food. I choose food over clothes, I choose food over makeup, I choose food over Nancy Drew. That's right, I said it. I'm addicted to food! This is all meant to be light hearted, so please don't attack me. I know there are people out there who are addicted to food in unhealthy ways. I am in no way making fun of the, I'm simply being over dramatic. 

Also, I always try to stay positive. I like to keep my blog on the happier side of town, but I also keep things honest here on TWRC. While I still think approaching all situations with a positive attitude is the only way to come out ahead, today I will be giving a completely honest review. Some things may seem negative, but that's only because they are the truth. Still, I try my best to keep it all lighthearted.

For many years, I've been in love with Hometown Buffet. More specifically, the Hometown Buffet in San Diego, CA, in Clairemont. Problem is, a few months back, they got rid of my beloved eatery. I grew up going to that place, my son was growing up eating there, it was my home away from home. I knew the people, I loved the food, everything was perfect. And then it wasn't. 

My uncle always joined us for Hometown trips, so when they closed our hangout spot, he mourned right along with us. Since then we've tried others in different locations, regardless of the distance. We would often crave the food we once had and we were hopeful that the same deliciousness would be found at all locations. Granted I know that they can't all be exactly the same, as the people themselves are different than, but we were hopeful nonetheless. 

Throughout all our excursions, we were only left with mild disappointment as our beloved eatery just wasn't the same anywhere else. We knew that the risks were there and we understood that we couldn't hold such high expectations, but it didn't matter.

Today however, we decided to attempt another Hometown Buffet. This one in Imperial Beach - San Diego, CA - on Dennery Road. We had read reviews that it was supposedly just as good as our old love, therefore we set out with high hopes and low expectations, to see if we - my uncle, my son, and I - had met our match! Here is what happened...

First of all, this place is a little bit hidden in the back area of a small, stretched out shopping center. Which I liked even more, as it led me to believe that it wouldn't be too crowded. I was right. 

Upon first entering the establishment, I noticed the ever amazing, signature "Hometown Buffet" smell, filling my nostrils with pure bliss. My first impression was that it was clean and well kept. The staff members were very professional, with the right amount of friendliness. 

We were able to find a booth without any issues, surrounding by empty tables. This is exactly what we love. I know that I can't really speak for a busy weekend crowd, but today's crowd was mild and reasonable. It was more like a small pow wow of families rather than a crowd.

The food had it's pros and cons. Pro, most of it was absolutely delicious and worth the price tag ($30 for 2 adults and a 5 year old during lunch time). Cons, you have to get the food RIGHT when it comes out, otherwise you're left with a dry selection or an "off taste". The salads however, were delicious and truly tasted fresh throughout the entire time - we stayed for about 4 hours. The soups were also very good - Cream of Brocolli is my favorite. 

The other issue was that often times the food trays would be empty - again, it wasn't that crowded - but if you asked the staff, they'd bring some out immediately. So all in all, it wasn't too bad. 

The desserts however, were a bit disappointing in some areas. First, the brownies were dry and tasted like an old Hershey bar from Halloween, that you attempted to eat AFTER New Years. The cookies were also extremely hard - no "chewy" factor at all. The Cheesecake however, was very good with a nice crumbly crust, the ice cream was creamy and absolutely decadent, the banana pudding was perfectly combined, and the bread pudding was beyond words. Only thing is, DON'T ask the dessert lady when the bread pudding will be up. You WILL get the stink eye and you WILL be told wrong...twice. 

I do my best not to judge, as I know it can be very grueling to constantly be in a kitchen, feeling like you're in a rush to serve up the food, and someone asks when something will be done. Mothers anyone? 

On the other hand, I don't think giving attitude is necessary, but hey the bread pudding was amazing so I walked away happy. 

The bathrooms were also very clean and well maintained - you wouldn't believe the horrendous conditions I've seen other restrooms be left in. I will say they had no servers - perhaps because of the downsizing within the company? - nor did I see any managers. I don't know why, but it didn't seem to affect the flow. I do think that other Hometown's that have had their managers nearby, kept a tighter grip on keeping the food fresh and filled. This Hometown DID have extremely efficient bussers. They were very friendly and very hard workers. Quick to clear a table with cleanliness in mind and polite while quickly removing your discarded plates and cups. 

The meat - during dinner time - was the one thing that I was most curious about. Today was roast beef, ham, and steak. The ham, dry as a sun-baked tomato. The roast beef and steak, juicy and delicious like it came right off the grill. 

I love meat - steak in particular - so I am PICKY with my meat. With that being said, I can honestly say that the steak and roast beef were DEFINITELY worth the price. 

With everything in mind, having picked at practically everything - by the way, their pizza was one of the best I've had from a buffet, EVER - and looking as each item, I would rate this place a 3 out of 5 stars. 

While I don't think - my son and uncle agree - that this will become our newest eatery to consistently visit, it's something as a backup for those days when were desperately craving the past and are willing to constantly wait for fresh food. Someday we will find a new restaurant/buffet love, but until then it looks like we're going back to Yummy Buffet for our binge eating wants. (See review HERE). 

What's your favorite buffet place to eat?

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