Gourmet Grill owner opens Downtown Buffet on O Street

2013-03-29T03:50:00Z 2013-11-03T21:17:58Z Gourmet Grill owner opens Downtown Buffet on O StreetBy JEFF KORBELIK / Review JournalStar.com

Many of you may have seen those AT&T commercials on TV with the cute kids, including the one about “more is better.”

George Sultani believes more is better, too, with his new restaurant.

Already running the successful downtown gyro-themed Gourmet Grill, Sultani recently opened the Downtown Buffet four blocks away at 1028 O St. -- a welcome site to those who still long for Kuhl’s Restaurant that once occupied a spot on the block.

His new restaurant boasts a wide selection that rivals the other buffets in Lincoln.

How big is it? The hot buffet tables have nearly 40 items, featuring Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Italian, Greek and American homestyle dishes.

The cold buffet tables feature three kinds of lettuce salads -- spinach, mixed greens and iceberg -- as well as potato salad, coleslaw and other cold dishes. Desserts include cookies, cakes, pudding and, of course, baklava.

I highly doubt you will find anyone chanting “we want more” after checking out the Downtown Buffet’s fare.

So far the restaurant is still a bit of a secret. The buffet draws nearby office workers and seniors who live close to it -- the senior center is right across the street -- but the bar crowd has yet to find it.

The Downtown Buffet features menu-service only from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Sultani’s hoping some exposure and a change in weather will lead to an increase in traffic day and night.

Food

Hit and miss. But isn’t that the case with buffets? If you find something you don’t like, then go back. More often than not, you will find something to enjoy, especially when the selection includes nearly 40 hot dishes.

On my lunch visit, I scored with the dijon chicken -- it was tender with a tangy sauce -- and a flavorful pot roast, which was some of the best I’ve eaten. The greens were fresh on the salad bar, with numerous ingredients to add to the lettuce and/or spinach plates.

But the chicken strips were tough and chewy, the macaroni and cheese was watery, and the gravy lacked flavor on the biscuits and gravy.

Again, the selection is immense. Other dishes include chicken tikka korma, tacos, lasagna, chicken biryani, fried chicken, fish and chips, fried shrimp, barbecue ribs. Heck, the buffet even featured liver and onions. I can’t remember seeing that anywhere.

The buffet costs $8.99. Sultani could scale back the choices for lunch and charge less. He also could make it more family-friendly with an inexpensive children’s price. Grade: B

Atmosphere

This is a work in progress, Sultani said. He plans to fill the blank walls with artwork and Nebraska sports-themed prints.

The buffet tables are at the back of the room, with the hot ones lining one wall, the cold tables run down the middle, and booths line the other wall for those who want to be close to the food. The main dining area features booth and table seating.

The lighting leaves something to be desired. It’s fluorescent, which is perfect for an office or a classroom, but too harsh and bright for a restaurant.

Sultani receives kudos for cleanliness, which often is an issue with buffets. Grade: C

Service

Patrons pay first at the register near the entrance. Then you’re on your own. Plates and tableware are located near the buffet tables.

Drinks are self-serve, too. You will receive a beverage container at the cash register.

The Downtown Buffet usually has at least one person working the floor to clear away dishes. Grade: Not applicable.

Vegetarian friendly

The selection is ample for nonmeat eaters, beginning with the salads. There are a few main dishes -- most notably the vegetarian lasagna -- and several sides, including a variety of potatoes and rice, macaroni and cheese, roasted vegetables, corn on the cob, green beans and more. Grade: B

Reach Jeff Korbelik at 402-473-7213 or jkorbelik@journalstar.com, or follow him on Twitter at @LJSjeffkorbelik.

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