Ithaca’s newest buffet restaurant serves up quality, not just quantity

This week, we’re in Ithaca’s southwest checking out the area’s latest buffet restaurant. Spring Buffet offers all-you-can-eat Chinese and Japanese fare, along with some kid-friendly favorites.

Large buffet restaurants are sometimes a tradeoff for quantity over quality, and while Spring Buffet sure has the quantity and variety covered, we’ve been impressed with the quality of the food they’re serving. Hot dishes are hot, veggies are crisp, and everything’s flavorful.

Several buffet tables offer a host of hot and cold dishes at Spring Buffet. 14850 Photo.

Several buffet tables offer a host of hot and cold dishes at Spring Buffet. 14850 Photo.

The large buffet here dwarfs others in the area, with several steam tables of appetizers like spring rolls and dumplings, hot vegetables, and typical Chinese restaurant fare like lo mein, orange chicken, or sweet & sour pork.

But there’s also crispy squid, spicy shrimp, and other more-interesting items next to the predictable fried rice. A lovely array of freshly prepared sushi, both with and without raw fish. Even peel-and-eat shrimp, crab legs, and mussels. A full salad bar if you’d like some cold veggies. Macaroni and cheese or pizza for pickier kids. Carved ham or roast beef for pickier grownups. Not to mention soft-serve ice cream, chilled fruit, and other desserts.

What would you like in your stir-fry? It's up to you.

What would you like in your stir-fry? It’s up to you.

What might be the most appealing part of the meal is the build-your-own hibachi, where you pick out the noodles and veggies, shrimp or chicken or tofu, and other items you want and a staff member cooks it right in front of you, just like a Mongolian grill. This is especially handy for vegetarians and vegans who are less interested in the meatier buffet entrees — you get to decide exactly what goes in your dish, and it’s cooked up fresh.

The buffet is cheaper for lunch than dinner (except for Sunday, which is dinner all day), which is very common, but it’s also cheaper earlier in the week; both lunch and dinner prices go up for Friday and Saturday. But with prices ranging from $6.99 for weekday lunch to $11.49 for weekend dinner, it’s not pricey at all. Kid pricing starts at $2 for lunch and $2.50 for dinner at 3 years of age, and goes up for each additional year of age. Cute.

Find Spring Buffet at 106 Fairgrounds Memorial Parkway, between Tops and Lowe’s, or call them at 607-277-7888 and tell them you heard about them here.

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