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Ponderosa Steakhouse (Orlando, USA)
Member Name: angusreid
Ponderosa Steakhouse (Orlando, USA)
Date: 07/12/05, updated on 07/12/05 (1278 review reads)
Advantages: Cheap, great selection, cheap and cheerfull.
Disadvantages: Long queues, not much choice of mains.
Ah, the Ponderosa, home to the all you can stuff down your gullet buffet.
They use to be in England you know, but they closed them down because of the unruly element that would pay for one meal or one drink and bring in twenty of their mates!
The last Ponderosa I went to was in Kissimmee on the H192.
Why the Ponderosa though, what is it that makes it different from any other restaurant out there?
Simple, tacky and cheap!
Ponderosa offer a simple dining experience with an unlimited amount of food and drink in with the price. You can get a meal for say £5, and go up to the buffet and fill your self up until you could not manage a wafer thin mint!
The help yourself evening buffet stretched the length of the restaurant with over 50 hot dishes to add to your meal. I had the shrimp to accommodate the fact that I knew I would be stuffing myself silly and was amazed at the variation and quality of the buffet. I had some chicken wings, meatballs and macaroni cheese to start with, went back and grabbed some corn on the cob, some more chicken wings and some salad stuff. They seemed to replenish things fairly quickly and you did not have to queue to get round to the good stuff. I went back for some more chicken wings again.
For vegetarians, this is probably the best “franchised” restaurant in the area to dine at. There must have been 30 vegetables to choose from as well as a salad bar that again had many different options. The hot pasta such as macaroni cheese seemed to be the only option for veggies, but considering these are to add to your meal, it made a decent selection choice. They had Spaghetti Bolognese as well.
Steak, lots of different steaks! Their evening menu is cheap and cheerful with steaks starting from about £5 a shot up to about £8.50
Not the best cut of steak and probably equivalent to a Beefeater steak rather than an American steakhouse steak.
The seafood is mainly shrimp, which is their description of king prawns
• Top Sirloin
• Chopped Steak
• Chicken Monterey
• Seafood Platter
• Sirloin & Fried Shrimp
• Sirloin Tips
• Grilled Chicken
• Grilled Salmon
• Sirloin & Grilled Shrimp
• Sirloin & Chicken Monterey
And lots more, check it out here.
Now notice there is no salads or vegetarian meals here? Bit off putting if you do happen to have one of those carrot crunchers with you but hey, if I go to a vegetarians house, I eat their meals!
Seriously though, if you are vegetarian and do not eat fish then there is not really a meal for you but the buffet would suffice. You could pay for the shrimp and ask them to release them in to the sea I guess, then take your empty plate to the buffet and get stuffed without the chicken wings.
The taste and quality of the food was pretty good considering. Not what I would expect in a sit down restaurant with candles on the table but better than school dinners if you know what I mean. Sorry dinner ladies, not trying to upset you here but when I went to school dinner ladies served up lumpy potato and stringy cabbage. Some of the vegetables were in a sauce and whatever the sauce was, be it tomato, cheese of cream, you could guarantee its sweetness as America adds sugar to sugar!
The same buffet is transformed in the mornings and it becomes a giant breakfast pig-out for those interested in fuelling themselves up for the entire day. If you can think of it, it’s there. Be warned though, the sugar products will tempt your children to stray so make sure you sit them down and get them cereal or something healthy like fruit.
The sausage is a tiny shrivelled thing that you can hardly notice, yes that’s the sausage! The bacon is not much better as they love to fry it to a crisp. The taste of both though is okay although very salty. The selection is on the list above but just to please the hard core readers;
• Hash Browns.
• Fried potato
• Scrambled eggs
Lunch is a similar occasion with burgers and sandwiches as well as the main menu, the same buffet applies.
SERVICE & STUFF
Very good once you get to your table. The drinks are refilled free of charge and the server will do the utmost to please you as they live on tips. The server will tell you what and where things are, bring you some freshly baked bread and have a good old chat with you making you feel quite welcome.
The tables were clean although very diner style rather than restaurant but this did reflect the actual standard I expected in this kind of environment. Toilets were rooms with urinals and Krappas in them would you believe and also matched the high standards of cleanliness that you would expect in any Kissimmee eatery.
I never checked for disabled access or facilities as I am not disabled myself fortunately nor were my companions but the restaurant is at ground level with a large aisle access which could be accessible in a wheelchair with a helper, I guess.
My only problem with this place is that you have to queue to get in for quite a while. This can be uncomfortable for elderly people, like me ha, ha! What we found best was for one person to queue (me) and the rest to go around the nearby shops for half an hour and come back. If I had got through before they came back they had left me the meals and drinks they wanted and I ordered them. The checkout system is so easy when you do get there, you look at the picture above you on the wall (which also adorn the entrance hall where you queue so that you are starving by the time you get there.) and order the main. Pay there and then and take your receipt to your table, giving it to the server. All soft drinks and hot beverages are refilled free of charge but beer and wine is not.
Sadly, we witnessed a group of English people get a table for 6 and then 4 people sneaked in to join them and help themselves to the buffet. Thankfully they were caught and the family were evicted but this only goes to undermine the reputation of British people on holiday. It was less than a £5 for all you can eat and they still though they could save a few quid by sneaking in. some of the children were only about 5 years old so they are going to grow up with good strong values aren’t they?
The food is of a good standard but not great yet more than good value for money.
I go now and again but not every year if you know what I mean, it’s somewhere to go when you can’t be bothered to think about what you want to eat or just want to pig out really.
It gets 4 stars from me but for quality V price it would be 5.
Summary: Worth going to just to experience the massive buffet.
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