Shady Maple Smorgasbord: East Earl, PA
Updated: Sep 4, 2019
My coworkers and I made the trip to Lancaster County to check out Shady Maple .
Some of my coworkers had been here before, but this was my first time and I was excited because I heard about this place years ago. I'm not the biggest fan of buffets, but my coworkers invited me so I felt this would be a nice opportunity to spend time with them and get out of the city for awhile.
Before we left I checked #TripAdvisor and I must say, the reviews were very.... mixed. Nonetheless I didn't let those reviews discourage me from going.
Shady Maple offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The lunch and breakfast prices stay the same, but the dinner prices change depending on what day it is (for example, Tuesday menu is their seafood night. This menu is $25 per person in comparison to when we went on a Friday; our price was about $22 per person). Shady Maple has child, elderly, and military pricing as well.
Friday's dinner menu features the following: Carved Smoked Beef Brisket, Salmon, Cajun Catfish, Fried Shrimp, Crab Cakes & NY Strip.
Although there's nothing fancy or spectacular about this place I must say... Shady Maple is big. Like, BIG big. Shortly after we arrived our dining area began to fill quickly, and as we walked out I noticed other dining areas had also filled up; it was obvious this is a very popular place to eat in Lancaster.
The food area itself was also HUGE. There were two stations for soups and bread, all of the sides and featured dinner menu items, a salad station, two dessert stations, and four grill stations. It was literally impossible to take one photo that captures the entire dining and food areas because everything is so spread out!
Another plus for me was that there were plenty of vegetarian and vegan options; anyone who has adopted either lifestyle would feel comfortable at Shady Maple and be able to stuff themselves like everyone else.
On the ground floor of Shady Maple there is a gift shop that extends the entire length and width of the building; this shop sells almost anything you can think of that can be sold in a gift shop, from candles and wind chimes to hand crafted furniture, sports team paraphernalia, kids toys, figurines, and bedding.
Okay kreatives. Here goes my honest review of Shady Maple.
Foods I tried:
-cream of crab soup (yes, delicious!)
-pepper jack tomato soup (nah, didn't care for the texture)
-NY strip steak (nah. To be fair I'm not the biggest fan of steak/beef in general. I've definitely had better steak)
-salmon (yes for quality, but a loud and obnoxious HELL nah for flavor. I get that it’s hard to determine the best way to season food because a large crowd is being served.. but damn, they could have at least Salt Bae'd the situation and sprinkled a little salt and pepper on there!)
-roast beef (This was one of their 'Friday dinner features' so I thought it would be feature-worthy.. nope)
-fried shrimp (yes)
-seafood croquettes (yes)
-mashed potatoes with gravy (meh, yes. I mean how hard is it to screw up mashed potatoes?)
-stuffing with gravy (yes)
-broccoli and mixed veggie medley (yes)
-peach cobbler (HELL yes. This was my favorite thing I ate all night)
Overall, Shady Maple just didn’t live up to the hype for me. The food wasn't disgusting but definitely not anything to rant about; it was typical Old Country Buffet quality food. With prices they've established you’re paying for the variety they offer. Depending on what kind of eater you are this may be perfectly fine for you! Food wise, it was underwhelming for me but the overall experience was pleasant. There were some positives for my experience:
-Friendly servers who quickly and consistently cleaned tables. Unfortunate we can’t tip them. Only negative encounter I had was with someone working the grill station. Quickly chalked his snide comment up to misery/racism and walked away; I had another courteous cook serve my piece of steak.
-Shady Maple offers plenty of options, I can’t see the place ever running out of food. Enough space for large crowds to comfortably navigate dining area and food area.
-Shady Maple is very clean. Didn’t see anything questionable. One of the cleanest establishments I’ve seen. Bathrooms were also clean and didn’t smell like a zoo.
Would I make the trip again? Probablyyyyy not. BUT I'll never forget the laughs and quality time spent outside of work with my coworkers. <3