Johannesburg - Unless I’m starving and in a hurry, I usually avoid buffets at all costs. I end up eating very little of what’s on offer, so find it hard to justify paying R200 upwards for a meal when I know I’m subsidising all those people who go back for third and fourth helpings of everything. I’m also not a fan of eating food that has been pre-made and left out for a long period of time.
Nevertheless, I know that many people are fans of buffets, and enjoy taking their pick from a dozen salads, mains and desserts, so I dutifully spent a few days eating my way through most of Jozi’s buffets, with the aim of identifying the top three or five in the city.
However, I found only two buffets worthy of being recommended. What sets these spots apart from the others is that both buffets have “live” stations, where food is freshly prepared in front of you. At the other buffets I reviewed, I found myself leaning over other people to get a spoonful of a dish, by which time it had been mangled and was virtually unrecognisable.
Here are the two best buffets in Jozi:
1. Hilton Sandton Sunday Organic Buffet
An organic buffet is a first for Jozi, and the Hilton has cleverly collaborated with the Bryanston Organic Market to offer a completely natural buffet every Sunday, complementing the market that the hotel hosts on the first and third Sunday of each month from 12pm – 3pm. Here, you can purchase many of the ingredients used in preparing the dishes on the buffet, including olive oil, artisan bread and scrumptious biltong.
It seems like “organic” is the new catchphrase these days, but you can rest assured this is the real deal. The Bryanston Organic Market has a system whereby they audit vendors, making sure that what is on offer is additive, colourant and preservative free.
For example, the bread supplier is The Loaf, a family-run business specialising in sour dough breads, French pastries and cakes. The owner was trained in Brussels to become a master of European methods and techniques, so breads are made the traditional way with natural ingredients like stone ground flour (sourced from the Western Cape), charcoal filtered water, salt and natural yeast.
The buffet, which changes regularly according to what’s in season, is held on the terrace of the classy Tradewinds restaurant, and features four salads and starters, including a station where tomato and mozzarella are freshly sliced in front of you. Main courses are varied and cater to most tastes, with dishes like free range duck with spinach and vegetable lasagna. On the grill, you’ll find peri-peri chicken breasts, fresh linefish as well as sirloin. The crowd-puller is definitely the carvery station, which is the perfect prelude to the enticing desserts, like mini éclairs and pineapple tart with custard.
Call 011 322 1888 to book. Address: 138 Rivonia Road, Sandton. Cost: R300 a person.
2. Sunday Gourmet Braai at the Maslow
This revamped hotel has only been around for about a year, but it’s already earned a reputation for the place to be on a Sunday afternoon (the free, uncapped WiFi is definitely a key reason for me.)
The Lacuna Bistro’s glitzy indoor/outdoor set-up, complete with live music and a bustling gourmet braai on the pool terrace, creates a great ambiance. Meat lovers will be thrilled at the variety on offer, including barbecue chicken with roast pepper and sweetcorn salsa, Texan style charred brisket, sticky baby back pork spare ribs, lamb kofta and an oxtail pot.
Non meat fans need not despair – take your pick from seafood paella and the baked catch of the day, plus flatbread topped with caramelised onion and blue cheese. Sides are unique and not your average braai fare – think honey-buttered sweet potatoes, three cheese potato bake and roasted seasonal vegetables.
Dessert was my favourite part – I indulged in traditional trifle, and black forest swiss roll. I might have popped upstairs to the hotel’s Africology spa, but I’ll save the review of that for another day.
Call 010 226 4600 to book. Address: Corner Grayston Drive and Rivonia Road, Sandton. Cost: R250 a person, including a glass of sparkling wine on arrival. - Sunday Independent