Napkins, please!

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In the last couple of weeks, the Patch has gotten some great tips as to where to consider to get our grub on. Well, thanks to a faithful watchdog reader we were encouraged to check out Farragut KFC, specifically, the buffet.

I am not a buffet person. I like the illusion that my food was prepared just for me and was not on display at some point under a sneeze guard. Today, I was lucky enough to be joined by my friend, Big Boy, who’s company made the buffet experience fun. We were ready to report on whatever experience might befall us. I must give Big Boy his due propers. His insights were very valuable today, especially in sampling the chicken livers. I would prefer to dine on a charcoal fish tank filter from an extremely hygiene-challenged catfish.

Honestly, we weren’t expecting much considering previous experience and the confirming reports of others. And I have to say, we were under-whelmed. At a price of about $7.50 each (including drink) for a fried chicken buffet, it should have been spectacular. It was not. I had great hopes that the buffet would exceed reports. It did not. While it had great potential, Big Boy and I experienced the wheels falling off the buffet food wagon to some extent.

The food was edible and fresh. We arrived at 11:45 and things looked promising for lunch. The place was clean and busy, but manageable – we thought. The salad portion of the salad bar was good – looked fresh and the area was clean. But here’s were the wheels begin to wobble a bit. No napkins. Only the one rationed out in the little package with your fork, knife and spoon. (I have to ask, what the heck happened to the spork?? Used to be a KFC staple… the all-round utility eating vehicle. BRING BACK THE SPORK!) As I was mourning the loss of the spork, I realized I’d been standing there for probably a full 5+ minutes, standing and waiting for the painters ahead of us to move on… “You’uns got any biscuits back there for the buffet?” “They’re on the way.” “HEY!!!! WE NEEEEEEED SOME BISCUITS ON THE BUFFET”.

Granted… my 5 minutes might have been more like 2 minutes. Try this – a great wait staff training tool taught to me by a very clever colleague, with naturally curly hair no less. Close your eyes for what you think is thirty seconds. Chances are, your 30 seconds will be well under thirty, most people perceive 10-15 seconds to be 30 seconds. And you know what they say; perception is all that matters. Well, we waited for what seemed like 5 minutes of hungry “diner seconds.” Fearing a painter-lead, biscuit shortage fueled sit-down strike, we passed our dining compatriots to hit the fountain drinks (Pepsi products – the Pepsi guy was even eating there).

The food was fresh. I accompanied my original-recipe thigh (I think it was a thigh) with au gratin potatoes (I think they were au gratin potatoes) and greens (they were definitely greens). I was satisfied with the food. But I really wanted more napkins. Ever try to eat original recipe with only one napkin? At one point I used my receipt to wipe my fingers.

There seemed to be enough food at first on the bar to meet the demand… except for those darn buffet bottleneck biscuits. However, we were early. They seemed to be prepared for our arrival. But in a few minutes the food supply seemed to slip a bit. I even noticed a nearly empty container of green beans being refilled – with hot water… no green beans!

I also sampled the okra and mac and cheese. The okra was apparently in high demand and was reduced to a few greasy specimens (Yes, I do realize what the F stands for in KFC). The mac and cheese was good. I also sampled the desserts… chocolate pudding in the salad area and an unidentified bread pudding type substance. Definitely pass on the chocolate pudding unless you are the first person there for the buffet. It had been thoroughly mangled. I am always hesitant to eat something where the “cling to the spoon” factor is high. If the end result of self-dipping is not a relatively clean spoon with no klingons, the food is suspect. The unidentified bread pudding delivered a clean-ish spoon finish and tasted decent.

Now a word from Big Boy about the chicken livers. Excellent. Apparently, they taste “as fresh as when the chicken was hatched.” Okay. I’ll take your word for it. You’ll probably have to ask for a portion of chicken livers (it is included in your buffet meal). If you are into chicken livers, you will not be disappointed. Big Boy received a brood’s worth of chicken livers and seemed to be very pleased. Still scarred from a chicken liver trauma at Frank ‘n’ Steins at West Town, I passed on the opportunity to share in the organ meat extravaganza.

As we refilled our cups and went out the door, we noticed… no lids for the buffet-size cups. There were extra-large lids, but none that fit the buffet cups. And still… 45 minutes into the lunch rush… no napkins.

So… bottom line. If you are a closet (and very neat) buffet eater, especially if you are a closet chicken liver eating buffet eater, go ahead, strap on the feedbag. Just be prepared to forgo the biscuits and napkins.

This buffet has potential to be pretty good if the little things can be ironed out.