Does anyone recall the last time the upstairs section of Country Kitchen was open? I honestly don't think I have ever seen it open to the public, so I assume it is permanently closed off.
I can't quite remember everything, but last time I was at the Country Kitchen I remember looking up to see that the tables were still in place, but the chairs were stacked on top of them. So, it looks like the space could open up if it needed to. Course, there wouldn't really be a need to between the fact the restaurant is never very crowded (it would just require more maintenance) and the fact that the stairs could pose issues for people carrying lunch trays.
I always just find it odd to see that upstairs area sitting empty. Does anyone (*cough*mwhinva*cough*) recall when this area was used, and when its use was ceased? Thanks.
My new general rule of thumb that I use, if there are cars parked in the gravel sections on the parking lot, turn around and go home! (This was the case last 4th and we only stayed for the 15minutes of fireworks.)
Interesting shot of Country Kitchen from (what I believe is) the 70's. Note the original sign.
By the way, I guess Kings Dominion *technically* has an official "animal encounter" since they stock the pond the Country Kitchen overlooks with goldfish and catfish, and provide fish food to feed them. Cool!
I had a chat with Chef Paul at the Haunt VIP Meal, and he said he will be making this restaurant one of his main focuses for next year. I guess that makes sense, given the endless list of yummy possibilities in the "country cooking"/"comfort foods" that are a perfect fit for Country Kitchen. He didn't say much, but he said he's looking into more "authentic" barbecue foods, and I'm pretty sure he said something about ribs going onto the menu. I wish there was more to tell, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Sounds like we're in for some yummy surprises in 2015!
Thanks Joe for the update. I always thought the Country Kitchen had great potential for someone like Chef Paul to have some influence over the food.
The food quality started going down hill during the Paramount years. Cedar Fair did try to make some changes by offering more hot/cold side dishes. Sadly, I kept feeling the food was more "institutionalized" (out of the can). I thought, in the right hands, The Country Kitchen could be the signature restaurant in the park.
During the economic downturn, the ribs were offered in limited quantities (off the menu - upon request only). Then they were dropped. I also noticed the park changed suppliers for their chicken (grilled chicken). The size of the chicken parts grew smaller as well. I assume this was a combination of rising food costs and the impact on the wallets/purses of park visitors.
I hope Chef Paul can create recipes for the side dishes and bring a better focus to the barbecue they were noted for.
I wonder if barbecue is the next main food focus in the Cedar Fair chain. I noticed that other sites have reported that Dorney park is turning one of their food facilities into a place to serve barbecue, including beef brisket, for 2015.
As in earlier discussions, I always thought Country Kitchen was the best bet for Chef Paul to work with in improving the food variety and quality.
I ate there with a few others on here this weekend. They didn't seem completely ready yet (no grilled chicken yet, no idea whether drinks came with all-season dining), but I can't blame them. The only changes I noticed thus far is that pulled chicken barbecue sandwiches are now available in addition to pork, and the new sauces were available.
As for the interior changes, it looks like it's still a work in progress. All the wood beams and furniture were painted a lime green (they were red last year). However, a lot of the pictures/signs hung on the walls were missing, and the wallpaper border that ran across the walls was taken down. The walls were just a bare white yesterday, so I'm guessing they're getting ready to do something (wallpaper maybe?).
I liked the new, more subtle paint scheme. I do hope it stays.
I had the pork BBQ with a sweet sauce. It was quiet good, unfortunately it was cold. I did not get upset over this, as Joe pointed out they all had dress rehearsal jitters and were learning the new processes.
I had the moonshine BBQ sandwich last weekend. I'm no expert, but in my relatively inexperienced opinion, that was some damn good BBQ. I actually think I prefer it to a lot of the BBQ I've had in real restaurants.
Oh, plus, last Saturday the upstairs to Country Kitchen was open! New KDFans hangout spot!
After not eating at the Country Kitchen since the KD 40th anniversary day in May, I stopped back by there that evening for chow.
I did see Chef Paul in the serving line earlier in the day with the CK front line servers; I had dropped by to get an Ice Tea refill. I said hello and he remembered me from a long conversation we had on park food back during the 40th celebration day. Nice guy, very down-to-earth and he does not mind getting his hands dirty with the "grunts".
A couple of things have changed since I was there in May.
1) The old heated serving section for the meats has been replaced with a new counter top unit with a large see-through glass canopy with bright LED lighting. No more looking down into the "meat pits" to see what is there.
2) 1/2 rack rib dinners are now offered as part of the menu (my dinner).
3) I noticed that the green beans are back as a side item. I remembered Chef Paul wanting to do something with corn on the cob as well. But, I did not see that offered. Not sure if that is still a "work in progress" or he was not able to get around to offering the corn for this year.
The ribs were not bad. They were not "fall off the bone" tender. (But, BBQ experts sat that if the rib meat "falls off the bone", they are over-cooked). I took my plastic knife and cut through the meat between the bones. It was a little tough to cut through the meat. Course, I was using a plastic knife and I wondered if these ribs might still have had the membrane still attached to the bone side of the ribs. So, I was a little concerned at first the ribs would be on the dry side.
But, when I bit into the rib, the meat was moist and firm! I had the tomato based BBQ sauce with my ribs; but, you can get them with the mustard based BBQ sauce as well. I think the ribs were cooked in the smoker that the Country Kitchen has outside. I thought I saw the reddish "smoke ring" on the outer edge of the meat as I was biting into the rib.
When I talked to Chef Paul back in May, he was excited for the 2 BBQ weekends planned in August. The park even has a banner now advertising the event (on center walkway as you walk toward the Eiffel Tower).
I received a KD Memorial Day Weekend event email yesterday. One of events stated that Chef Paul came up with a new BBQ spice rub and will be offering ribs this weekend at the Country Kitchen and the "BBQ Pit" outside the restaurant. It appears that the ribs are a limited time offering for this weekend only. I believe someone on this site mentioned that Chef Paul would be offering ribs for limited runs during this season.