Hotel buffet food. / SUR

Buffets are back

Most of us are happy to help ourselves to the food selection on offer at a buffet

ANDREW J. LINN

One of the casualties of the pandemia was the self-service buffet. Obviously, it had to go, as even with mask wearing, it was not safe to have people serving themselves from communal dishes. Anyway, we love these buffets or we hate them, and while the snobs refuse to serve their own food and will expect someone to bring it to them, most of us are happy to help ourselves to the selection on offer.

Some friends returning to the coast via Madrid stopped off at the Ritz Hotel this week and were more than impressed by the lunch buffet. There is no need to list everything here, but obviously classical dishes were available as well as different paellas, beans with clams, roast duck, langostinos de Sanlúcar and the best jamón de bellota, plus dozens more. The price was 250 euros, wine extra.

The common belief is that establishments serving this type of buffet are working on slim margins, judging by the amount piled onto plates and the number of times customers return for more. However, the numbers demonstrate that they are a profitable method of serving food.

All restaurants recycle leftovers, but a buffet gives more opportunities than regular meals. A fresh fish one day will be a fish pâté or croquettes the next, or even the ingredients of a bouillabaisse.

The location of different dishes usually involves placing the most expensive at the end of the table, where diners arrive with no more room on their plates.

Food will generally be highly seasoned in order to get customers drinking plenty of stomach-filling water and soft drinks.