For many reasons, my family decided to have Christmas dinner at Zehnder's this year. We made reservations for 14 at 5:30pm.
For those who don't know, Zehnder's of Frankenmuth serves more meals each year than any other independent restaurant in the US, just under a million, and is the 50th largest in gross receipts with a average check of just $14.
We arrived a little early at 5 and found the place packed with parking hard to fine even in the most remote sections of the back lot.
Inside was just as crowded and we were told many people came without reservations. We checked in and were told we'd be seated pretty much on time, much to our pleasant surprise. Having a little time to kill, I naturally looked for a bar and was directed to the Tap Room, which had a line at the door. The good news was the line was for dining in the Tap Room and the bar itself was wide open, so we all sat down and spanned about 2/3 of the entire length of the bar. The second surprise of the day was the simple goodness of the very young bartender's very dry vodka martini; it was the right drink at the right time. Others had Hofbräu Original, a really good German Lager, and a variety of mixed drinks and wine, all of which was served quickly and politely at a very reasonable price.
On to dinner. For the holiday the menu was expanded beyond the expected 'World Famous Fried Chicken' to include a buffet with roast round of beef with au jus, salmon on sauteed spinach, breaded butterfly shrimp, double smoked ham, and chicken breast stuffed with apples and walnuts on long grain and wild rice. All the fixen's were included with a favorite of mine; the home made chicken liver pate with garlic bread. The buffet was $25.50 per person. See Zehnder's web site for all the menu details, which are substantial.
Most of us had the buffet and the food was all very, very good with the roast round of beef particularly special. A few of us had Prime Rib which was also thoroughly enjoyed. Our personable server, Chelsey, did a great job keeping water glasses and everything else filled and was glad to bring us anything we requested. The dining room staff was friendly and efficient. The service was well beyond what could be expected with such a large crowd.
All in all, a great experience and one that I can heartily recommend. It was easy to see why Zehnder's is so popular. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.