When I put the call out for the best buffet/all-you-can-eat restaurant in Canberra, I thought I would have received many, many enthusiastic suggestions however I think most people wanted to pitch in about how wasteful buffets can be, and how they cause over-eating.
I can’t comment on the waste side of things, but the overeating thing can be managed. When I went to this week’s top two buffets, I wanted to try a wide variety of what was on offer and this was successfully done without overeating. It’s not too difficult.
The Star Buffet at the Burns Club in Kambah was the most nominated, and there wasn’t a second place. Several people nominated various buffets at the Hyatt, so I decided to pick one and run one with it – I opted for the afternoon tea buffet.
First up, the Star Buffet. Judging by the amount of nominations it received, plus what I’ve heard on the grapevine, I was really looking forward to it. There is a huge range of food here, all sorts of cuisines. From traditional roast meat and veggies, to Asian stirfrys, to cold seafood, to a sushi train, all the way to a giant chocolate fountain. It looked unbelievably good.
Sadly, the food quality was not good. I had two people with me and between our group, we probably sampled 80% of what was on offer and we were very disappointed. Everything seemed really, really overcooked. It wasn’t a case of it sitting there for a long time and overcooking in the bain marie as staff were constantly bringing out new dishes. I think it was overcooked before it made it out to the floor. I did quite like the satay chicken dish though – it had great flavour and lots of vegetables. Everything else was quite dry and tasteless sadly. One bonus was the drink machine that had frozen pink Fanta. Filling up a cup with sugary pink goodness reminded me of being a teenager and going for walks with my friends after school.
I get that the Burns Club has to mass produce food because of the large amount of customers, but I think maybe if they had a slightly reduced amount of variety in dishes, things could be a lot better. The staff at the Burns Club were highly attentive and extremely helpful though, and I think that is a big win – especially when they have literally hundreds of customers to keep an eye on.
On to the Hyatt for Sunday afternoon tea. Despite being partial to scones and jam, I’d never been to the Hyatt – it’s always been on my Canberra ‘to do’ list. I was pretty excited to try it out.
The table set up with the afternoon tea buffet is pretty small, but they somehow cram a huge amount of food onto it without it looking cluttered. Everything is beautifully presented and it just looks divine. No wonder Obama stayed here back in 2011.
We started with savoury food – cucumber sandwiches, spinach and feta pastries, and BBQ chicken wraps. They were all pretty top notch, but those cucumber sandwiches were to die for. Who knew that something so simple could be so delicious.
We moved onto the sweet food after that: scones with jam and cream, pavlova, truffle cake, and fruit tart. There was also lots of little slices, creme brulee, macarons, and fruit pie that I didn’t sample. While everything I tried was lovely, I think I actually preferred the savoury food. Probably the first time in my life this sweet tooth has ever said that!
One thing I wasn’t expecting though, the staff at the Hyatt weren’t very attentive or helpful. We asked for a pot of tea which was brought over but we had to spend a while trying to flag down staff because they forgot the milk. There was also a bellhop who nearly mowed me down twice with the giant luggage rack (both times were not my fault) and he could not have cared less. Pretty disappointing that the staff weren’t great – I expected better.
However, when it comes down to it – the food quality at the Hyatt left the Star Buffet for dead. I’m awarding the Hyatt afternoon tea with the title of best buffet in Canberra.