Berks County Eats crosses the county line to bring you some of the best dining both near and far. This edition takes us 37 miles southwest of Reading to Lancaster, PA.
Dinner and a show. It is the quintessential night out, a perfect evening of food and fun for couples and large groups alike. Somewhere along the way, a genius decided to combine the two and the dinner theater was born.
Some dinner theaters offer superior acting with subpar food. Others offer great food with mediocre acting.
The Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre has amazing food.
The Dutch Apple is one of a pair of dinner theaters in Lancaster. The nearby Rainbow Dinner Theater specializes in comedies while the Dutch Apple stage is home to musicals.
Theater-goers gather in the lobby until 90 minutes before showtime when the floodgates open and patrons are led to their seats. The two-tiered seating area is deceptively large, holding nearly 400 people on a busy night.
With that many people crowded in, it can create quite a traffic jam at the twin buffets, but it is well worth the wait.
I am sure there are some delicious greens on the salad bar, but I have never wasted a trip on salad when there are so many entree options waiting on the hot bar.
The choices remain fairly consistent between visits, with a trio of entrees (usually beef, a poultry and seafood), a fourth meat at the carving station, at least one potato dish and several vegetables.
My first trip through the line, I loaded up on sides while getting a few slices of ham from the carving station. The vegetables, a mix of carrots, squash, broccoli and snap peas, were cooked to a perfect t al dente. The corn casserole is creamy and delicious. The pot roast, complete with red skin potatoes and pearl onions, was juicy and tender. The ham was good, but the only bad part about carving stations is that the meat rarely stays hot under the heat lamp, and that was the case with the ham.
Trip number two featured a second helping of vegetables. The thick slab of turkey was moist and flavorful. The addition of mini marshmallows to the sweet potato casserole gave added texture to the side dish while also adding an extra layer of sweetness. The stuffing was also quite good (though as a Dutchman, I will always pine for potato filling over bread stuffing).
After a third trip for more pot roast and corn casserole (and a dollop of mashed potatoes), I had my fill of the main course and ventured to the dessert tables.
A server stands guard over the ice cream freezer at the front of the room. The tables next to him is loaded with toppings, as well as wide array of pies and cakes.
Not wanting to miss out, I took a scoop of ice cream to go with my slice of pecan pie.
Pecan pie is a favorite of mine, and I enjoy Dutch Apple’s. The crust is flakey, the filling is gooey and the pecans are crisped perfectly. I only wish there were a few more pecans and a little less of the filling.
The buffet closes down a few minutes before showtime, ensuring clean up is finished before the curtain rises. If you are still hungry (you shouldn’t be), you can place an order for appetizers to be delivered to your table during intermission. But beware, there is an extra cost involved. And with tickets prices at about $50 per person, I wouldn’t spend the extra money when there is so much good food included.
I won’t pretend to be a theater critic. My area of expertise is the 90 minutes before the actors take the stage. Just know going in that you may be seeing a hit Broadway musical, but Centerville Road is a long way from Broadway.
Enjoy it for what it is, a really good dinner with a show, and you won’t be disappointed.