A sign from above says it all

A sign from above says it all

Ourr's Family Dining is more artificial hip than hip.

I'm always excited to try a new restaurant, if it isn't a chain, because they've always got their own character and spin on something. While I am by no means a foodie, I'm always curious to see if the new place has the best _______ in town.

So, when I saw the old Furr's cafeteria building was under new ownership and management and was reopening, I hoped for good things given its relative proximity to where I live and the almost complete absence of good food in the area.

The first sign of what was to come was, well, the sign. As I left home one day I saw sign trucks had pulled up; the secret of what the new place would be was about to be revealed. That night when I returned home, the former big red "Furr's" sign was completely transformed… by the replacement of the "F" with an "O." It was no longer Furr's Family Dining. It was Ourr's Family Dining.

As John Hammond said to his first visitors in Jurassic Park, they "spared no expense." This was not a good sign, in either a literal or figurative sense.

But hey, a sign does not a restaurant make. Some of the best places have no signs at all. Why spend the money on a sign when you can express your vision where it counts, in the food and the interior?

It was some time later that I realized the place had opened. I passed by probably a dozen times before I decided that instead of going home for lunch I'd try it out. I parked in the not quite half-full lot and went inside. I waited to be seated, unsure of the procedure, and a woman about 20 feet away to my left shouted, "Hey!"

Aha. I hadn't realized it was one of those kinds of restaurants. Set up like a sort of a low-rent Golden Corral, you pay first and then you can eat until your body shuts down. Not what I was necessarily in the mood for, but hey, the price was right. About $11, tax included, was worth the gamble. It was pretty middle-of-the-road, typical buffet fare.

One thing I learned living on the road and occasionally having to endure big chain buffets is that there are good Golden Corrals and bad Golden Corrals just like there are good Denny's and… Denny's like the one on Harry. While still part of a chain, they can vary wildly from the best comfort food place ever, to a prelude, to 24 hours of intestinal distress.

Ourr's lands firmly in the middle of this. There was fried chicken, meatloaf, some fish, a salad bar — a reasonable selection of Sysco food-service style buffet fried foods, in addition to desserts and some actually pretty decent Chinese options. While the food wasn't anything to write home about, it was all fine. The staff was great — attentive and very friendly when I was there.

I did, however, find that at 1 p.m. on a Tuesday I was the youngest person by 30 years in the restaurant who did not either work there or was not there as a caregiver to someone. From the look of things, having never been to the place under the Furr's name, the fixtures and decor are either all the same or brilliantly treated to achieve that look. It's neither a bad thing nor a good thing — it all works, it does everything it's supposed to do, I just didn't know what that was before I walked in.

Ourr's Family Dining is not necessarily the hip new place in town, though based on the clientele it might be the place if you have an artificial hip. It doesn't pretend to be anything else and serves the purpose of being a friendly, reasonably priced home for comfort food.