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Golden Corral: The Wal-Mart of Buffets

Superb in quantity, lacking in quality

The+lack+of+a+fully+lit+sign+is+only+a+glimmer+of+what+is+inside.
The lack of a fully lit sign is only a glimmer of what is inside.

The lack of a fully lit sign is only a glimmer of what is inside.

Photo by Tom Hermanek

Photo by Tom Hermanek

The lack of a fully lit sign is only a glimmer of what is inside.

Sam Wiegand, Sports Editor

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Whilst you are minding your own business, attempting to get an ice cream cone, a little girl no older than six runs up to you and screams, “Someone threw up! Someone threw up everywhere!”

This seems like something out of a movie, or even a comedy act. However, this actually happened to me at what I now call the Wal-Mart of buffets: Golden Corral. Not only this, but it describes just an ordinary day at any given Golden Corral across America.

The aim of any Golden Corral restaurant is crystal clear from the moment you walk inside: to provide as much food as possible at just $14 per person.

Unfortunately, this aim is the only thing so clear in the whole restaurant, as you’d be lucky to find so much as a clean water glass in the whole place.

Photo by Sam Wiegand
Jeff Foxworthy must have no idea this ad is talking about Golden Corral’s food.

Let me convey to you the sheer quantity of disgusting food available at The Corral.

To begin, imagine any food.

I can virtually guarantee that your food is available at Golden Corral in unlimited quantity.

The overall aesthetic of the restaurant is downright comical. Pictures of people claiming they love the recipes and different foods mount the walls. The entire building is crowded with people who simply want to stuff their faces.

The buffet caters to a demographic that simply wants to fill a plate (or two, or six…) and a stomach as food is placed under heat lamps in no particular order. The tacos are next to the chicken. The shrimp is next to the mashed potatoes.

The actual quality of food is similar to the plates it’s served on–it looks better than it actually is. The colorful plates seem to be nice ceramics until you pick one up and realize it’s cheap plastic. The food seems to be fresh and delicious, until you eat it, and find out otherwise.

The place has less than stellar food safety and cleanliness practices as well. The bathrooms were on par with those of a highway gas station. An entire serving spoon, handle and all, was sitting in the warm, homemade (read: frozen-and-reheated) pot roast. Oh, and evidently, someone threw up. Everywhere.

Not all the food is below basic standards, specifically the prime rib. It was cooked to perfection (perfection for a buffet prime rib) and actually full of flavor. Even the pizza wasn’t bad, though it’s nearly impossible to make a bad pizza, as even Little Caesar’s can do it. The bitter truth, though, was that these were some of the very few foods I could muster the willpower to swallow.

Photo by Tom Hermanek
Leaving Golden Corral, I was a bit too full.

I eventually dined on very average spaghetti and had some strange looking shrimp pieces. This is one of the first times I’ve had shrimp and been disappointed. Beyond this, the watery pasta sauce drenched my entire plate. This excess water made my biscuit soggy.

Then I decided to have some dessert, so I grabbed a bowl of Jello with whipped cream on top. Huge mistake. The jello was almost indescribably bad. For the first time in my life, I have ever had bad jello. I was in awe of the ability to mess up jello.

But I would be remiss not to discuss Golden Corral’s iconic ever-flowing “Chocolate Wonderfall.” On the surface, this seems like a fun, tasty idea, until you, once again, think of the clientele. Seeing people put any food they want under the chocolate fountain was disgusting. When it comes to The Corral’s chocolate fountain, nothing is off limits. If it’s on the buffet, it can be coated in eternally recirculating chocolate.

Golden Corral was just not a place I would want to go back to if I had the choice. At The Corral, it’s certainly true that one can consume whatever and however much they desire. However, there are still some things that one just shouldn’t do. Eating at Golden Corral is one of those things.

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Golden Corral: The Wal-Mart of Buffets