Anyone in search of a restaurant in a beautiful location with charming ambience and suave service should go somewhere other than Carolina Buffet. It’s located in an extraordinarily drab strip mall; there is virtually no decor in the bare-bones dining area; service is perfectly polite, such as it is, but it’s really not an issue because the meal is serve-yourself from a buffet line. Dishware and utensils are disposable.
On the other hand, those who seek expertly-crafted, time-honored southern lunchroom fare, from chicken ‘n’ dumplings and collard greens to cornbread, biscuits, and fried fatback, should put Carolina Buffet at the top of the must-visit list. Although it is without frills, the array of serving dishes is beautiful with its pans of freshly-made food constantly coming from the kitchen throughout the lunch and dinner hour. Customers pay (under $10) as they enter the restaurant and are entitled to as many trips through the line as appetite demands.
Fried chicken is available every day, and it is very, very good. It doesn’t ooze juice, but that’s okay. It is moist and tender, and its crisp, brightly-seasoned coat is as joyful to eat as bacon. Baked chicken is available Wednesday and Thursday. It is juicier than fried, and while it lacks the wanton thrill of all that golden crisp surface, it delivers waves of succulence in every bite. Other available entrees include pork chops and chicken pot pie on Tuesday, fried quail Thursday night, catfish and BBQ Friday, and full-bore dinners of ham, turkey, pot roast, etc. every Sunday.
Side dishes are all good: such Dixie delights as stewed okra, butter beans, corn custard, candied yams, and black-eyed peas. Thursday’s fried squash is brilliant: discs of sweet vegetable enveloped in a shattering crust that is seasoned to a fare-thee-well. Cool banana pudding and warm peach cobbler always are available for dessert.