A family friendly buffet, 15 minutes south of the city
Star Buffet is located inside the Burns Club in the southern suburb of Kambah, 15 minutes south of the city. The Burns Club is a Scottish Club that has been operating for over 90 years and is a big part of the Tuggeranong community. If you wish to enter the club and dine at Star Buffet, you need to show your ID at the club entrance and if you live within the ACT, you will need to join the club (for $5 a year) or be signed in by a member.
If you love going to a buffet, or the old "Sizzler" restaurants from years gone by, then the Star Buffet takes it up to a new level. This extensive buffet is particularly popular with families as the price for children relates to their age, making it affordable for kids under 12. Adults cost anywhere between $16 - $27, depending on whether you visit for lunch or dinner during the week, or on the weekend. After paying for your meal and a bottomless cup of soft drink for $3 (or you can buy alcoholic drinks from the bar inside), you are then shown to a booth or table and you can settle in for the mammoth task ahead. You need two things before entering the Star Buffet - a stretchy waistband and your appetite!
As you walk in, the sheer size of the dining area is impressive, to say the least. If you wondered whether it would be so crowded that you wouldn't get a table, you don't need to worry as there are literally hundreds of tables in this large space - as well as on the other side of the buffet. According to their website, it can fit 650 people in total. On our visit we went on a Sunday lunchtime, which I imagine is somewhat quieter than a Saturday night buffet, so there was plenty of room between diners to relax in comfort.
Large dining area that seats 650 people
Firstly, to get started, you get a plate from one of the stands on either side of the dining area and then enter the buffet. Walking around, it is simply jaw-dropping the amount of options there are to choose from. If you have kids, they will be impressed with the usual favourites such as chicken nuggets, chips, pizza, spaghetti bolognaise, garlic bread, roasts, corn on the cob and rice dishes. If they have a taste for Asian food, there is also the sushi train to choose from and a wide range of Chinese dishes, noodles and dumplings.
As you walk around and decide what you want to try for yourself, you can either pile your plate up high with everything - or pace yourself and start light. There are fresh prawns and mussels, salads, soups, seafood pancakes, octopus balls and more. When you come back again for a heavier meal there is honey chicken, curries, roasts and a whole Asian dish section with several stir fry choices available. The Asian food in particular is a highlight, with a station dedicated to BBQ pork, steamed pork buns and delicious dumplings in little steamer boxes. This became my favourite station to return to (in between the prawns!)
With all these plates starting to pile up, there are friendly staff members who walk around and remove the old plates, to make more room for the new ones.
If you have a sweet tooth, then the dessert buffet is where the party starts. In a centre display stand there is cheesecake, pavlova, tiramisu, jelly cups, cupcakes, biscuits, fruit, tartlets, lemon meringue pie and macarons. On another dessert station there is hot chocolate pudding, bread and butter pudding and even a chocolate fondue fountain with sticks of marshmallows to dip in! On the other side of the sushi station is an oven warmer with portugese custard tarts and if that's not all, there is also an ice-cream machine at the back of the buffet, with a range of toppings to finish it all off. If you prefer savoury, there is even a range of brie cheeses and cold meats to make your own cheese platter.
The Star Buffet is literally over-the-top and for the first-time visitor, also a little overwhelming. When our family left we had very tight waistbands, but we were impressed with the whole experience. It may not be something that we will do again in a hurry, if we want to fit into our jeans again, but we may go back and give it another try when friends come to visit, or for a birthday celebration. If you love buffets in particular, then this is a "must" if you live in Canberra, or are visiting the Capital City. Plan to arrive at the start of the buffet session so you have plenty of time to get a table and relax between visits up to the buffet.
With over 100 choices of food available, what would you put on your plate?