I’m not a fan of people making outrageous exaggerated claims.
When somebody says “I’m LITERALLY starving” I usually scathingly dissect their hyperbolic statement until they admit that they are actually just mildly peckish rather than approaching a near death-like state. My hatred for these exaggerations runs deep. To the extent that when my husband tells me I’m the most beautiful woman in the world I reason with him until he admits that I’ve got nothing on Beyoncé.
That’s why you can trust me when I say… I have literally found the best all-you-can-eat buffet in Sydney. And I say this with authority, having tried over 10 buffets across Sydney as research for my “Best All-You-Can-Eats in Sydney” post a couple of years ago.
The Harvest Buffet is an improved version of the previous Garden Buffet. The restaurant itself has been completely revamped with a fresh look, a whole new staff and a completely overhauled menu. From the moment you walk in you are accosted with bountiful fresh, seasonal ingredients in this welcome display.
All the employees seemed legitimately pumped to be at work and happy to help and I can totally understand why they are proud of where they are working.
Each food station has a completely open plan kitchen, meaning you can see the chefs cooking the food from scratch and serving it up. This experience is pretty far removed from the usual buffet layout which involves mysterious behind the scenes chefs cooking massive vats of food and periodically (sometimes quite slowly) replacing them. There are even some items which are cooked to order, meaning you interact directly with the chef and watch as they whip up your food.
The kitchen is headed up by American-born Executive Chef Uday Huja and supported by international cuisine specialty chefs who have been given free rein to create the dishes they enjoyed as children, in the interests of dishing up the most authentic international cuisine possible. The Harvest Buffet is honestly like no other buffet I’ve ever tried. They have somehow managed to make each dish a stand-alone gem while also having a seemingly endless selection. In every other buffet I have tried, even the fancy ones, there is definitely a trade-off in terms of food quality because of the sheer quantity. The Harvest Buffet absolutely refuses to compromise on quality, serving up small portions which are refreshed frequently. The buffet is broken into different zones based on cuisine, with each section run by a chef who is native to the region whose cuisine they are serving up.
The Asian Station
The first station you see as you walk in is the Asian food quarter, resplendent with hanging pork belly in a glass front case.
The next thing you see is this make-your-own gua bao station with a range of salads and sauces to fill your bun and a selection of meats which are cooked and sliced right in front of your eyes.
The pork belly from this station was next level – every single slice had a generous amount of crackling on it and was perfectly cooked. We ate four bao buns and the quality was so good that I just kept repeating “Oh my god this is seriously exactly the same as a dish you would order at a restaurant and pay like $20 for.”
Further along is the stir fry station where you can see the chef tossing ingredients into a wok and frying them before transferring the wok straight from the flame to the serving area for you to help yourself directly from the pan. The stir fries go beyond the obvious westernised dishes we are used to seeing in Asian restaurants and instead consist of the chef’s favourite meals from his childhood and dishes he cooks with his family at home.
The Carvery Station
I had trouble identifying the carvery station because of the glaring absence of soggy-looking steamed vegetables with the flavour and consistency of moist shoelaces. Such flavourless steamed vegetables haunt my dreams, reminding me of many a childhood dinner spent sustaining minor burns from stuffing boiled vegetables down my pants, socks, pockets etc to avoid ingesting them. So I was deeply relieved to see that instead of the green beans being limp and soggy, they were lightly pan fried and tossed with slivered almonds and mushrooms. The same went for all the vegetable sides – they were each designed to be interesting and flavourful with significant thought and care put into their creation.
Anyway, I obviously wasn’t visiting the Carvery Station just to fill valuable stomach space with vegetables.
As you can see, the Carvery Station contained some pretty sexy looking roast chicken and beef (and my English husband was particularly thrilled by the inclusion of Yorkshire puddings) but let’s be real, as soon as I spied this fried chicken I didn’t care about any other meats. My excitement was sky high considering I knew the chef was American and this was apparently his very own recipe for Southern Fried Chicken. Sure enough, the chicken did not disappoint and was just as crunchy and delicious as it looks.
The Indian Station
The Indian station gave me a pretty good first impression considering they had a REAL TANDOOR OVEN. And they cooked *actual* tandoori chicken and naan bread in the tandoor. Pretty insane.
The authentic touch was definitely worth it, as my husband and I agreed it was the best naan bread we’d ever had. And obviously, because it was a buffet, it was UNLIMITED. Say goodbye to the days of adding $4.50 for one naan with your curry and secretly wishing you got five because naan is bloody delicious.
The curries themselves also went way beyond the predictable butter chicken and instead included hearty dishes such as this goat curry, with the bones left in to enhance the flavour.
The Italian Station
I was already pretty impressed by the tandoor oven, so I actually wasn’t surprised when I walked over the Italian border to see a wood fired pizza oven. The pizza bases are made from scratch and topped with simple high quality ingredients, in true Italian style, rather than stuffed with weird non-Italian ingredients like *shudder* barbeque sauce and pineapple.
They also had not one, but two of my all-time favourite Italian dishes – creamy gnocchi and spinach and ricotta cannelloni.
Oh yeah…there was also a salad bar which looked good… I’m not too sure what kind of maniac goes to a buffet to eat salad but each to their own.
The Seafood Station
The buffet has a seafood station with fresh prawns, pipis and handmade sushi every day and on Friday and Saturday nights there is also crab and other fancy seafood stuff.
We had a pretty good time working out how to eat this delicious spanner crab. I got to feel really self-satisfied when my husband couldn’t work out how to do it and I had to feed him little pieces like an indulgent mumma seagull.
The Dessert Station
If I were you, I would probably have skipped to this section first before reading all the boring stuff about green beans and salad bars. And yes, you guessed it, the dessert station did not disappoint. There was not one, not two but FOUR different flavoured chocolate fountains and I kid you not, I saw a small child trying to climb into the strawberry fountain exactly like Augustus Gloop did in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I felt like warning him that he might drown and have his demise made into a song by small orange men but I realised he was probably a bit young for the reference. I also discovered that these chocolate fountains are even available during the BREAKFAST buffet so if you want to #treatyoself, then breakfast at the Harvest Buffet is probably a good place to start.
The main desserts were strawberry shortcake, sticky date pudding, apple pie and pumpkin pie which were refreshingly simple and well executed favourites. There was also an array of mini desserts including pavlova, lamingtons, and some coffee and toffee cake.
In case that wasn’t enough there were two soft serve machines with four different flavours and a massive selection of toppings including fizzy coke bottles and liquorice.
My husband had his mind blown by what he describes as the best churros he has ever eaten. They were clearly freshly made and we watched the chef roll them in sugar and cinnamon before depositing them on the serving platter.
My favourite touch was the chocolate display which was presented exactly like a fine jewellery case, with the delicious chocolates just out of reach under the glass. You have to ask the attendant to take some of those beauties out for you so you can eat them.
We finished our meal by pledging to return ASAP for more buffet goodness. The only slightly unpleasant surprise was that the buffet closed at 9.30pm on weeknights so we plan to arrive a little earlier next time.
Weekdays are an absolute bargain at $48.90 per adult for dinner and $39.90 for lunch. Weekends are a little pricier at $69.90 for lunch and include the full range of seafood.
Harvest Buffet at the Star
Level 1, The Star, 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont NSW
Phone: (02) 9777 9000
Web: The Harvest Buffet
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of The Star