Golden Corral: An Elkton Excursion

Neal Gee
May 11, 2014

ďMy shirt feels tight and Iím pitting out,Ē is how I would answer the question of what was Golden Corral like. On one gorgeous Thursday afternoon Brett and I decided to take a road trip of sorts. To see the sites, sounds, and ah the smells, of Elkton, Maryland with our destination being the Golden Corral buffet. For those of you who donít know what the Golden Corral is, picture an all you can eat extravaganza with as many degenerates as you would find at Delaware Park on a Tuesday morning.

But Iím jumping ahead. First, let me introduce my fellow readers to a new semi-regular column: Nealís Meals. My intention is to review the places you would like to eat at, but common sense tells you NOT to eat at. Golden Corral seems like an apropos choice to lead off this discussion. And Iím currently 2 Tums and 2 Peptos in to the post meal Armageddon so before that battle reaches its climax, Iíd like to knock this review out. And I feel the troops are mounting their next wave of attacks. Let me see if I can do this review in a thousand words or less, or at least until what I thought was a fart turns into a shart.

Anyway, Golden Corral deserves a review ripe with simile and metaphor to really drive home the experience. One of my favorite lines to describe a restaurant was dropped by Jim Gaffigan who once said, “If you’ve never been to a Waffle House, picture a gas station bathroom that sells wafflesĒ. Instantly it is a picture that everyone can conjure up. Aside from there being a waffle house across the street, the Golden Corral in Elkton was actually inside a gas station. So, if youíve never been to a Golden Corral, picture a gas station that has a full buffet. In fact, you will leave this gas station on full, unlike your car that is probably riding on fumes cause you would never fill it up at some shady Golden Corral.

The other nice thing about the Golden Corral gas station complex is the truck wash. All that was missing was an Iron Skillet and their legendary $9.99 12 oz steak. As someone that drives a sub-compact car, navigating the trucks and potholes that could swallow my car whole just added to the appeal of this place.

Once inside, as all restaurants should do, you pay first. I think it came to $11 per person for their lunch buffet, drink included. There are several nice things about paying first. One: at the end of the meal you can get the hell outta there like you cut the worst fart in history without waiting for the check. Two: you know exactly how much you need to eat to break even. Three: they canít get you on dessert since you already paid. Four: no need to worry about being charged extra for something even though it was the serverís mistake (vis a vis the Red Lobster incident that mortified Brett, et al.).

As with many buffets that Iíve been to, the food is arranged ethnically. Now aside from the uncomfortable implicit racism this presents, it does make for a culinary trip around the world. We had cuisines from the southern U.S. (fried chicken, hush puppies, greens, peach cobbler), Italy (spaghetti and meatballs, pizza), Asia (bourbon chicken, fried rice), and France (French fries).

Brett and I agreed that the generally strategy when in a buffet situation is to eat as manically as possible before you body realizes whatís going on. Because once it realizes, self-preservation mode will kick in and you will either start pooping out what you are ingesting immediately, or will hit the proverbial food wall and not be able to swallow anything else. In this feeding frenzy we both consumed 3 full plates of the main course, and while Brett ate “light” with only fruit for dessert I decided to live high on the hog and got 3 plates of desserts.

Now, this wouldnít be much of a food column if I didnít give a special shout out to the winners and losers. But before I do that, a philosophical debate ensued at our table of whether when one walks into a gas station that serves food, are your standards implicitly lowered so everything seems good? Bad food is bad, I agree. But there is so much mediocre food out there, I think that we automatically think the food is good because our standards were nil to begin with. Iím mean, it is a fucking gas station serving me food! Readers you may disagree. On the whole, however, the food was not disappointing.

The winner of the day was clearly the cheeseburger sliders. Big chunks of (presumably) meat seasoned and cooked to perfection. I can still taste the au jus. Runner up is a tie between the mini corn dogs, which were adorable, the fried chicken, and the mac and cheese. Consume any of those on its own and youíll have a solid meal, but in combination, youíre doing all right. The only thing I probably wouldnít get again was the meatloaf. Aside from an unhealthy glow that the glaze was throwing off, the other key that I probably shouldnít have eaten it was the fact that no one else touched it. Pay attention, friends, to what the masses are eating, and more times than not, you wonít be steered wrong. Go out on your own, and youíll be fighting off the diarrhea that I currently am. The meatloaf itself had more filler than an Ikea beanbag chair.

But clearly youíve come to Golden Corral for the chocolate waterfall dessert. I know you have seen the commercials so donít act like you havenít. As long as you ignore the little kids putting their entire arms into the chocolate, it really is pretty good. They provide the usual suspects for dunking: marshmallows, rice crispy treats, strawberries. But far and away my favorite was: chocolate. Thatís right, they had chocolate that you can dunk in the chocolate. Did I do it? Hell yea I did. Iím only human.

Dessert course number two was cupcakes, brownies, and peach cobbler. All delightful. The final course was ice cream (with plenty of Gummy Bears). Now, when I first pulled the self-serve handle, it came out watery, but quickly firmed up. When I told Brett this, he immediately without hesitation dropped a poop joke on me. Brilliant, impeccable timing. I nearly lost my food at both ends.

Ok, so at this point, we are both keenly aware of our mouth breathing. Somehow we manage to get up and shuffle our way towards the car, marveling at how overweight and gross the rest of the Elkton crowd is. Are we living in glass homes? Probably. Oh, and it just occurred to me that we did not leave a tip. Oops.
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