No country for old buffets: The new and somewhat improved Old Country Buffet

Categories: Buffet Buff

ocbtacotable.jpg
The taco station at the Old Country Buffet
If Old Country Buffet ever had grace, it certainly fell from it by the mid-2000s. The restaurant struggled on quality control, competition from other buffets, and a changing dining mentality that didn't always prioritize all-you-can-eat ribs over the taste and flavor of said ribs.

Then in early 2013, Ovation Brands, the parent company for Old Country Buffet, got a new look and a new CEO and remodeled the Twin Cities' 12 OCB locations to create a more modern appeal. Could the Old Country Buffet overcome its fusty reputation? We went to see for ourselves.

At the West St. Paul location, we noticed immediately that some of the buffet's rebranding was really nothing more than adding folksy names to standard offerings. For example, adding the prefix "Fay's Homestyle" to a formerly unnamed fried chicken doesn't make much of a difference to this Buffet Buff. But some of the changes are substantial. OCB is now serving much of the food in single-serving ramekins and using slightly more adventurous taste combinations such as Asiago cheese and mushrooms, scratch cornbread stuffing, and a well-seasoned orange chicken. 

These might not sound like huge improvements to the haute cuisine set, but the reality is, most of us don't head to Old Country Buffet for their Michelin star rating. We come for quality hot food that can stand up to a buffet setting and make a whole party of different palates happy.

For a number of years Old Country Buffet fell well below that expectation, but things are looking up for the buffet chain. In their new offerings, Old Country Buffet dropped some of the items that are guaranteed to never work in a buffet setting: chicken wings, broiled fish, and big vats of question-mark-flavored stews. Evidently, they still haven't gotten the memo on eliminating soggy French fries, but the menu does focus on putting its most valuable ingredients in well-presented dishes. Standouts in this category are the single-serving sweet potato casseroles and shrimp and grits. Old Country Buffet is also offering single-serving mini pot pies that get passing marks for a truly flaky crust and hearty filling.

Location Info

Old Country Buffet

2000 S. Robert St., West St. Paul, MN

Category: Restaurant


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63 comments
Sara Schieve
Sara Schieve

Almost forgot about it. Thanx alot jerk.

Keven Kassulker
Keven Kassulker

Basically pretty decent Mash potatoes and apple crisp and 5 deserts Lots of fatty stuff that no one will make any more? Lots of tasty You other moaning types go spend $10 for 1/10th the amount food? Try spending $20---35 Ok you get what you want based on what you wanna pay? They've been around for long time And many big family get togethers have always been pretty darn ok They have the room to fit larger groups

Kevin Ricahrds
Kevin Ricahrds

Great Article I Hope you got Paid for it Because their $15.00 dinner Price should have Money to spend.

Esther R. Carrillo
Esther R. Carrillo

I used to love it but now I hate it, food was cold and now you have to grab a little plate with a little portion on it,,, wheres the old country that I USd to know!!!!

Ran Dazzle
Ran Dazzle

my partner is a retired chef and there is no where he would rather go..ugh

meggersrad
meggersrad

@alex_cono loved the article. The commentary on the glazed carrots was great. One thing they did leave out: colorful array of people..

Julie S. Johnson
Julie S. Johnson

Better than parasites at Olive Garden, spending 2 months on the toilet.

Aminah Amatullah
Aminah Amatullah

It's so bad now...individual sized handled pots with single servings...that are NOT hot and NOT tasty Never going there again

Robyn Cunningham Rasmussen
Robyn Cunningham Rasmussen

nothing is 'better' or 'improved'....I've tried them on 2 separate occasions recently and BOTH times my food was cold. NEVER AGAIN.

Richard Shoop
Richard Shoop

Tried it under new management - not so good - new ribbon, same old box.

Shawn Spence
Shawn Spence

I bet Marilyn Hagerty the Olive Garden review writer would.

Jacqueline Stoner
Jacqueline Stoner

I like OCB. I have never gotten sick or been dissapointed. The one in Maplewood is pretty good, and huge.

Nicholas Rupar
Nicholas Rupar

Whatever guys, have some fun, nothing wrong w OCB, take that bourgeois garbage outta here.

Wayne Robbins
Wayne Robbins

you are to picky about the food ..me and my family and friends think its good food..and the desserts to .

Allison Dimler
Allison Dimler

I agree, Annette Keeler! The individual portions were completely dried out and not edible. What a waste! It was much better before.

Jeff Huinker
Jeff Huinker

I hadn't been to one in over ten years, got dragged there by friends a few months ago, wasn't disappointed/disgusted.

Jason Swalley
Jason Swalley

If there's a positive about having celiac disease, it's that it stopped me from going to OCB

Dan Helmbrecht
Dan Helmbrecht

People who ate there were the people that shouldn't be eating at a buffet.

jzillhart
jzillhart

@citypages this headline made my day...and got me to read an article about OCB so good work!

ElliotPark
ElliotPark

Before the sneeze guard was installed people could sneeze directly into the food. After the development of this buffet technology people touch the serving utensils under the buffet with the hands they sneezed into.

Sam Danger
Sam Danger

Only in MN would an alternative weekly write an non ironic review of an Old Country Buffet. Not sure if this is why I love it or hate it here.

Jean Claude Cau
Jean Claude Cau

The one in Richfield has vastly improved since last year. Management has made good strides in improving food quality and general cleanliness.

Cole Young
Cole Young

Me and my family enjoy OCB. We most recently went to the Burnsville location on Easter and all 6 of us enjoyed ourselves. My only complaint for the food is I guess im not a fan of the taco meat. Otherwise its great

Dan Zeug
Dan Zeug

Will never go to that trash bin, gross

ajlalk3
ajlalk3 topcommenter

What should they write about instead, the new Uptown bike delivery service that brings ironic t-shirts, microbrews and scarves straight to your door?

ajlalk3
ajlalk3 topcommenter

Apparently you've never been to Pizza Ranch or the Saint Anthony Broadway Pizza.

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