As a renegade youth with an incredibly unrefined palette, I was a huge fan of buffets. What kid didn’t love the gluttonous pleasures of the buffet? All you can eat salads of every shape and color… mystery meats dripping in gravy… grown-ups unable to stop your decent into over sugared hell.
Then, I grew up and buffets became a bit unappealing. Luke warm salads, cold fatty chunks of beef, and ugh, the over abundance of desserts. (Well, come on… give me 50 dessert options and I’m going to have to try at least half of them.)
Then, I took a food sanitation class in culinary school. I swore off buffets forever. The deadly cocktail of improperly heated/chilled foods combined with assorted unclean people touching food serving implements along with the threat of crazy monkey children manhandling buffet items is too much for me. No chance I’d ever go to another buffet. No. No. No.
Until Paul got a coupon book and there was a buy one, get one free coupon for the Red Apple Buffet. Nothing gets me to risk death and probable illness than a two-fer.
The Red Apple has two locations—both on north Milwaukee Avenue. This shouldn’t be surprising as the Red Apple’s official name is Czerwone Jabłuszko. Yuppers. We’re goin’ to a Polish all you can eat! We went to the less northern location and found it to be a splendid Sunday afternoon. The decor is nothing worthy of anything but a buffet (think mid-1980s mirrored ceiling), but the music had me when I heard a They Might Be Giants song converted into Muzak coming over the loudspeaker.
Just be warned: The big buffet service starts in the main room and then there is a mini, full of the Polish traditional goodies around the corner.
What We Ate
Holy crap. What didn’t we eat?
When you sit down, the waitress will bring you a cup of soup—they have two different varieties every day. My sister had the cream of mushroom. Then, there was the buffet:
- Two different pierogi: Some sort of meat and mushroom with sauerkraut. They were boiled, but still dreamy.
- Gołąbki (stuffed cabbage leaves simmered in tomato sauce) which were a bit dry, but what can you do?
- Apple pancakes (holy awesomeness!) The Moo ate about five.
- Cheese blintzes or nalesniki if you want to get your Polish on (again, Mr. Moo had a ridiculous assortment)
- Three types of slice your own animal: Pork, beef, and salmon. Each came with a gravy except for the salmon which had a dill sauce. The other meat and seafood included schnitzel, BBQ ribs, duck, breaded chicken, sausages, and a few mystery items just to keep it festive.
- The salads were ridiculous and included cucumber with dill, beets with horseradish, coleslaw, carrot and raisin, and I’ve forgotten a ton. They also have random grilled vegetables and various crudités.
- Then there were weird random things like the container of hard boiled eggs with green onions sprinkled on top, the tripe in broth, whole shrimp in their shell, chicken in aspic, and a tub of sauerkraut just hanging out. That sauerkraut just about sent my son over the edge. He practically took a face dive into the lump I put in front of him; he loves it that much. I love my weird food loving son.
All of their desserts appear to be made in house and included a half dozen cakes, several puddings, and a few cookies.
Keep in mind, this is a buffet so items might not be available on the day you go. As you can see, not very veg-friendly.
What We Drank
They have a full bar, but we went with herbal teas. Supposedly, they have the best coffee in town. (At least according to the card on the table. And, I ALWAYS believe what the restaurant says when they talk about being the best at something.) Next time, I’ll have to give that a whirl.
Best part? If you like what you ate, pick up a Styrofoam container on the way out the door. They’ll charge you by the pound for anything you take home. Worth a try if you’re in the neighborhood or want something a bit different to do on random winter night.
Location: 3121 N. Milwaukee Avenue. Free parking in the back so that’s super nice.