No, it's not just my imagination. More and more restaurants are serving breakfast or brunch on weekends.
True, the breakfast offerings are usually a brunch buffet, and I must admit I'm not a big fan of the all-you-can-eat buffet. But if you're got to "buffet it," what better place than a restaurant specializing in them? The Homestyle Family Buffet at Governors Plaza on Ritchie Highway next to the MVA has a very limited weekend breakfast buffet -- limited in terms of time, not food. Served Sunday only, from 9 to 11 a.m., this buffet doesn't make any brunch claims. Breakfast is the name of this game.
Being a fisherman's widow one Sunday morning, I decided to try the Glen Burnie restaurant's breakfast by myself. The $4.99 price charged by the cashier upon entering the restaurant seemed low compared to other Sunday buffets I have frequented. Taste-testing would be the only way to determine if this price was a bargain.
My biggest complaints against all-you-can-eat buffets are: 1) a feeding-frenzy atmosphere created by customers trying to "get their money's worth"; and 2) the shabby and worn look of a restaurant that has seen one feeding frenzy too many.
I'm happy to report the Homestyle Family Buffet's customers didn't seem to have just come from 30-day fasts. The atmosphere was quiet and subdued. And because the restaurant is new, it hasn't had time to become shabby. Another plus is the large plate glass windows that let in natural light.
So much for atmosphere; what about the food? One must approach an all-you-can-eat with the proper perspective. The diner must realize the food is prepared in large quantities, much as if you were cooking for a very large family. Translated, that means scrambled eggs rather than cooked-to-order eggs.
My perspective was adjusted before I entered the buffet line. I wasn't disappointed and in several instances I was pleasantly surprised. I'll start with the A-plus: The ham served at the carving board was delicious. Moist and flavorful, it was the equal of any I have had for breakfast anywhere.
B-pluses went to the muffins, not so much for the flavor but for the size. The corn, blueberry, and bran muffins were tiny. It was possible to try all three. The sausage gravy was also above average, as was the spinach souffle. I think it was a spinach souffle. I couldn't tell, and that was my negative mark against The Homestyle Family Buffet.
None of the food was labeled, which is fine in most instances. I can tell the difference between sausage and bacon and ham. But when there are three trays of yellow food, each tray looking like a variation of scrambled eggs, some written clues would be appreciated.
Could you get your money's worth at the breakfast buffet if you were following a cholesterol-restricted diet? How do fresh strawberries, fresh pineapple, watermelon, prunes, cantaloupe, bran muffins, frosted cinnamon rolls, orange slices and hash browns sound? So you can't have the corned beef hash, or the cheese sauce. Skip the scrambled eggs. I think you could find enough to fill your plate.
The breakfast buffet food at the Homestyle is worth $4.99. The restaurant is to be congratulated for devoting most of the dining area to non-smokers.
The restaurant is accessible to the disabled. The Homestyle Family Buffet lives up to its name by catering to all age groups. Members of the Senior Club get 40 cents off breakfast and lunch and 50 cents off the dinner price. Remember, lunch and dinner are the main buffets and the breakfast buffet is just a two-hour Sunday special. The lunch buffet is $4.99 and dinner is $6.89. Prices for children range from $1.35 for a 3-year-old to $5.40 for a 12-year-old.
A few features set Homestyle apart from the other "all-you-can-eats." Along with the obligatory soft-serve ice cream machine, Homestyle has a soft-serve frozen dessert for dieters that has a fat content of 0.04 percent. The frozen desserts are not offered on the breakfast buffet. Homestyle also offers a "Lite Lunch" billed as healthful fare for lighter appetites.
The hours at the Homestyle Family Buffet are: lunch, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; dinner, 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. The Sunday-only breakfast buffet is served from 9 to 11 a.m.
Frozen desserts are a big favorite of mine, whether in a restaurant or at home. The following is a dessert Hubby and I had at the home of friends. Our hostess shared the recipe with me and gave permission to share it with you. HINT: This frozen dessert contains MORE than 0.04 percent fat.
Peek A Boo Pie 1 cup evaporated milk 6-ounce package of chocolate chips 1 cup miniature marshmallows 1 quart vanilla ice cream Vanilla wafers Put the first four ingredients into a heavy saucepan and stir over medium heat until the chocolate and marshmallows melt completely and the mixture thickens. Cool to room temperature.
Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan with vanilla wafers.
Spoon half of the ice cream over the wafers. Cover with half of the chocolate mixture, Repeat with the rest of the ice cream and chocolate.
Place the pie in the freezer. Remove 10 minute before serving.
Joan Whitson Wallace, a free-lance writer, lives in Severn. She has written about food for a number of publications, and is working on a cookbook, "Mom Taught Me How to Cook."