By Tim Pawsey
Somehow, amidst the never ending tsunami of trends and the revolving door of openings and closings, the buffet endures. An array of tastes and flavours offered at a reasonable price is tempting to the eclectic diner and to parents of choosy children, but to really be a hit, a good buffet needs to not only offer variety but also be well tended, with dishes kept warm and replenished as needed. Perhaps because it remains a bastion of family dining, frequently served only on weekends, the buffet is the one holdover from times past that we not only tolerate but celebrate. In Burnaby, which neighbours Vancouver with a thriving community of families and multiculturalism, there are many to choose from, with a strong focus on international cuisine.
In Burnaby, Indian buffets rule. Four blocks west of Metrotown, contemporary toned Saffron Indian Cuisine yields both lunch and dinner extravaganzas. A wealth of vegetarian and non-vegetarian tastes ranges from daal and paneer to butter or tandoori chicken, with plenty of rice and naan staples. Salads and desserts abound and spicing is moderate. Lunch buffet is offered daily while the dinner buffet runs Wednesday through Sunday evenings.
Arguably the most unusual, definitely affordable, and one of Burnaby’s best-kept-secrets, Govinda’s Vegetarian Buffet is served only between 12:30 and 2:30 pm. This tranquil little escape operated by ISKON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) is adjacent to the Hare Krishna Temple on Marine Way. Healthy, all-vegetarian dishes are offered, with dishes changing daily and dining by donation (suggested $5 for adults).
At Agra Tandoori the weekday buffet (11:30am – 2:30pm, $9.95) reflects the restaurant’s creative, modern approach, with options roaming from tandoori chicken to goat and vegetable curry and more – with plentiful supplies of naan bread, salad and dessert. The setting is comfortable, and the service efficient but friendly.
An all-day Sunday buffet (12:00pm- 8:00pm) is a big draw for ex-pat Eastern Europeans at The Balkan House, which serves an array of southeastern Mediterranean fare, as well as sausages, meats and kebabs in a cozy, traditional hunting lodge setting. ($17.95 for adults, $9.95 for kids.)
For a more westernized take, EBO Restaurant at The Delta Burnaby Hotel offers an impressive Sunday brunch on some days and on holidays (such as Mother’s Day). This sumptuous smorgasbord spans a wealth of worldwide influences, ranging from typical North American breakfast items such as bacon and eggs to local seafood served both warm and chilled, as well as rotisseried meats and Asian specialties.
Next door at Grand Villa Casino, the buffet is on every day for dinner, lunch on weekdays, and brunch on weekends. Italy rules with an Italian spread offered every Tuesday from 4:00pm to 9:00pm, while on Thursdays the theme shifts to sunny Mexico—complete with $5 Margaritas.
If you are looking for a place to appeal to all your friends, your whole family, or just can’t decide exactly what you want, a buffet can be the way to go to sample your way through a meal until you’re satiated… or until you’re bursting full!