We picked a nice fall day to drive out to the country to Nolt's Family Dinner Haus near Grabill. The leaves were at peak color, the sky was grayish blue and we passed many picturesque farms.
Nolt's is a working farm with many buildings. When we arrived, it was difficult to figure out where to park. We circled the main barn until we found other cars and parked there.
The restaurant looks like a former barn with its gambrel roof. The decor is homey. Red-checked tablecloths are topped with antique china sugar and creamer.
What appealed most to me about Nolt's was that is wasn't large or touristy. Dining alongside the Amish families and eating home-cooked food gives a more authentic and enriching experience.
Everything is homemade at Nolt's. Our waitress said only natural foods are served and the chicken is fried in cholesterol-free soybean oil.
Homemade bread and peanut butter were brought to the table. The peanut butter was a hit. The combination of peanuts and marshmallow cream makes it taste like a dessert, rather than a sandwich spread. My friend said he would come back just for that.
Chicken and fish were our entree offerings.
The buffet itself wasn't large, but there were large quantities of food and many different dishes to choose from.
A large pan of cornbread sat at the start of the buffet line. The ingredients on the salad bar looked fresh. I appreciated that the lettuce was shredded, instead of big chunks dumped from a bag. I was equally thrilled to see fresh peas.
After the salad bar, I noticed the homemade noodles and fried chicken.
My friend proclaimed the cornbread delicious and went back for more.
I accidently pepper-bombed my salad. The holes in the shaker were larger than I realized. No harm done - I just mixed it into the salad. Other tables had the same type of shaker, so if you want salt and pepper, shake delicately.
The chicken was super moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. “This is one time I'm going to eat the skin,” my friend said. I agree with him. The chicken was excellent.
The vegetable side dishes were hot and buttery. The green beans retained their bright-green color and snap.
I especially enjoyed the peppered noodles. They were lightly covered in butter.
The fish was OK but a distant second to that wonderful fried chicken.
Soup was available on the buffet, but both of the us were stuffed and wanted to save room for pie.
A variety of pies and German chocolate cake were among the dessert options. I chose the cherry pie. The cherries were warm and tart; the crust had a hint of salt and was flaky. I could have ordered the pie a la mode, but I knew I couldn't eat that much after such a big meal. The pie was the perfect comfort food to end my meal.
The chocolate pie my friend ordered was covered in a mountain of whipped cream. The salt in the crust set off the sweetness of the chocolate.
The one suggestion I can offer relates to the seating. The folding chairs were low and hard. When I sat down, I didn't realize how low the chair was. I felt like a kid at the adults' table. I have ample padding on my backside, but it didn't take long for the chair to feel hard and uncomfortable.
The service was excellent. You can make reservations for large groups. There's a large room with banquet seating at the back of the restaurant. Outdoor seating is also available, weather permitting.
Nolt's Family Dinner House doesn't accept credit cards, so be sure to bring cash or a check.
As we were leaving the restaurant you could hear the horses whinny; then we saw the sign for buggy rides for $3. Maybe next time.