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SF Holiday Buffets – Lehr’s Greenhouse


Krys Stanley
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This is my first eGullet post.

This is one of the better buffets in the city. It will please everyone from people with upscale tastes to the taste impaired.

I know. I took a group yesterday with wildly different ideas of what good chow means. This is the first time that EVERYONE in this group was happy.

The value is good for the price and the room is festive It is not too fancy. It is not too casual. As Goldilocks would say “It is just right”.

I’ll mention some of the better items we tried first, although there were almost no misses.

Of the four roasts at the carving station, the Garlic-Herb Prime Rib favorably caught everyone’s attention. The juicy and flavorful roast lamb was in the same top caliber as the Prime Rib. The Bourbon Glazed Bone-In Ham won some major thumbs up. The only disappointment was the Cider Cured Pork Loin. It was dry without much porky flavor.

Free Range Roasted Turkey was already carved and in a chafing dish. It was very good. An example of how well Lehr’s thinks out the buffet was that there were two types of cranberry sauce, an excellent whole berry sauce and plain jellied sauce. Maybe it was my imagination, but I think I saw the can indentations on the jellied sauce. That scores points with those of us who favor the jellied type a la Ocean Spray (my guilty pleasure).

Lehr’s 30 years of experience in holiday buffets showed itself with the food in the chafing dishes. It was hot and fresh. No congealed or dried out offerings.

I will dream about the Yams Amaretti which were pleasantly spiced and had a deep, sweet yam flavor. There were four other hot potato selections. One person in the group proclaimed the mashed potatoes some of the best she’s tasted.

This same person, a salmon lover, was pleased with the beautiful whole salmon and the poached salmon with Hollandaise. None of us had room for the Fresh Catch with Mango Salsa.

At the dessert station you could have some lovely, boozy flambé peaches and/or cherries served over vanilla ice cream.

Some misses were the Dim Sum items which were barely average and a slightly tasteless onion tart.

As the ad for Lehr’s says … & much more. So many selections, so little time and tummy.

Our group focused on the hot items. Other items I remember were two types of stuffing, fresh peas with onions, buttery, tender-crisp green beans with mushrooms and a summer squash medley that was a bit overcooked for my taste.

I glanced at the cold food selection which included Peel & Eat Prawns, excellent looking Pates, Sushi, various salads, average looking cold meats and cheese. In this time of tomato scarcity, there was a huge platter of tomato slices. There were four types of dinner breads, as well as bagels, lox and cream cheese.

Desserts included three types of pies, four types of cheesecake, mini tarts, cake slices and tiny éclairs.

I am sure I missed quite a bit.

The tea and coffee were adequate. The tea was served from carafes like the coffee.

I’m not an extremely wine knowledgeable person. The selection seemed average with no standouts. The sparkling wine by the glass was St. Hilare ($6). It was ok, but not a favorite of mine.

Service was friendly and pleasant. I had some demanding people in the group, and although no one complained, it seemed the response was a tad slow for this contingent. They believe in ‘I Dream of Jeannie” service. Blink and make it appear.

The last time I was at Lehr’s was probably in the 80’s. At the time the décor was tired. While the selection was extensive, it wasn’t memorable. The food has improved vastly.

The rooms have been given a facelift as well with mustard walls and green trim. There is a lovely, mostly green, oriental type wall to wall to wall carpet with flowers and tropical birds. Two rooms were open, the green house section with its huge hanging plants and a banquet room. The greenhouse is prettier, but the banquet room is pleasant too and is closer to the buffet.

Tables have generous spaces between them. The traffic pattern at the buffet is well thought out so that diners are not tripping over one another or queued up in long lines.

If your dining plans include taking multi generational members, it is one of the best in terms of handicap access. The grandparents will easily scoot about with their canes, walkers or wheelchairs without banging into tables, chairs and other diners. The space kept the noise level down. Either all the children at the buffet were extremely well behaved or the tables gave each group enough privacy so that they didn’t intrude on others.

Lighted garlands, Christmas trees, wreaths, pine boughs and giant poinsettias were beautiful. The rooms gently glowed with holiday charm.

Buffet hours were 12pm - 7pm. Adults $39.95, Seniors $34.95, Children 5 - 12 $19.95, Children 4 and under are free. On Thanksgiving I had an overwhelmingly disappointing buffet at the Cliff House that cost $45. The value and food at Lehr’s beat the Cliff House. I’ll never go back to the Cliff House. I look forward to returning to Lehr’s. Of course a buffet will never be the equal of a Gary Danko, but the people in my group who frequent that type of restaurant were pleased with Lehr’s.

Valet parking in this parking deprived part of town is $12. Lehr’s is located just inside the Canterbury Hotel at 740 Sutter Street. 415-474-6478.

When my pictures are developed, I’ll post those. The picture on the web site doesn’t do the restaurant justice.

Link to Lehr's Greenhouse

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Welcome, Krys. I had NO idea this place still existed. My parents used to take me there when I was in college at SF State, uh, shall we say, when the restaurant was just starting... I will have to go someday just for nostalgia's sake. They didn't used to have buffets-I just remember lunch & a cheery garden decor.

I live right by The Claremont Hotel-they also have a great buffet, but I'm not a big fan of buffets in general.

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Marie-Louise, you took the words from my mouth! I also started at SDSU and Lehr's was the one place I could have my folks take me to when they visited.

And another big welcome to Krys! Keep up the good work and help all of us ex-San Diegans remember the lovelies that town has to offer!

Cheers.

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This is weeeeiiirrrrdddd..... I could SWEAR there 'was' a Lehr's Greenhouse in San Diego 20 years ago. My only mea culpa is that when I went to San Diego State, it was the very year that Playboy named it THE party school of the nation.

Does that explain anything??? :wacko::wacko::wacko:

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This is weeeeiiirrrrdddd..... I could SWEAR there 'was' a Lehr's Greenhouse in San Diego 20 years ago. My only mea culpa is that when I went to San Diego State, it was the very year that Playboy named it THE party school of the nation.

Does that explain anything???  :wacko:  :wacko:  :wacko:

There was a Lehr's (or possibly something else) Greenhouse. It was brunch central (Mission Valley, right?), and as cheesy and popular as you'd expect an upscale buffet to be.

I worked at the TGIF in Mission Valley from 1980-1983. That's why I can't remember the exact name of the Greenhouse. Maybe it was just The Greenhouse.

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Welcome, Krys. I had NO idea this place still existed. My parents used to take me there when I was in college at SF State, uh, shall we say, when the restaurant was just starting... I will have to go someday just for nostalgia's sake. They didn't used to have buffets-I just remember lunch & a cheery garden decor.

I live right by The Claremont Hotel-they also have a great buffet, but I'm not a big fan of buffets in general.

Thanks to all for the welcome. I'm currently enjoying your posts as I get familiar with this forum. I'm a refuge from another food forum.

I forgot to ask posters to share their favorite Bay Area holiday buffet experiences. I've always wanted to try the Clairmont.

Lehr's has undergone a number of transformations. It certainly is not run by the original owners. It is the dining room of the Cantebury Hotel which is part of Best Western. Lehr's underwent a brief name change where it was called called "Lehr's GLASShouse".

So it is possible that it was a chain that had a Socal branch when it started.

Anyway, I may be a little post crazy in the beginning as I share my favorite Bay Area eating experiences and see who shares my likes and dislikes. Be patient.

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Was Lehr's Greenhouse in that place under freeway interchange in Mission Valley that is now one of those Japanese all-you-can-eat chains?  Seems to me it might have been at one time, although I don't think I ever went there.

Yes, that's exactly it. It was under the 805/I-8 interchange and it was a Lehr's Greenhouse. My oldest brother had a friend who worked in the Greenhouse kitchens during that time. It was, and still is, a very odd place to put a restaurant.

Today it is Todai's, a japanese seafood buffet.

edited to add that if you click on the link, there's a picture of Todai's entrance with the 805 freeway bridge (which spans the width of Mission Valley) looming very large in the background.

Edited by Toliver (log)

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Was Lehr's Greenhouse in that place under freeway interchange in Mission Valley that is now one of those Japanese all-you-can-eat chains?  Seems to me it might have been at one time, although I don't think I ever went there.

Yes, that's exactly it. It was under the 805/I-8 interchange and it was a Lehr's Greenhouse. My oldest brother had a friend who worked in the Greenhouse kitchens during that time. It was, and still is, a very odd place to put a restaurant.

Today it is Todai's, a japanese seafood buffet.

edited to add that if you click on the link, there's a picture of Todai's entrance with the 805 freeway bridge (which spans the width of Mission Valley) looming very large in the background.

It's all coming back to me now. NOW I REMEMBER! Well, it was the Eighties after all. :wacko:

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