No-one expects fine dining for the evening buffet, but it can definitely be delicious, satisfying and full of flavour
Most couples offer an evening buffet, with staples such as bacon rolls and sandwiches. Since I’ve started researching the options for my own do, though, I’ve discovered there’s a world of possibilities beyond that – taco stations and build-your-own burgers are just a couple of the tempting treats I came across. Few topics interest me quite like food, so I began digging deeper…
Just like pretty much every other aspect of your big day, deciding what to serve up as an evening buffet boils down to how much you can afford to spend. “We look at the style of the wedding and the couple’s budget, as well as the food they both love, before suggesting ideas,” says Susannah Nixon of Bespoke Catering & Events.
It’s a similar situation over at Hudsons Catering, as Elaine Mackay there explains: “Tradition and cost usually rule with evening buffets. It’s not always an area where couples have a lot of money to spend, so the more affordable items such as breakfast rolls are popular, as are our delicious Scottish stovies and macaroni cheese.”
George Urquhart of 3G Catering Services (the ‘3G’ is a reference to the three gold medals he has won for buffet work, by the way), points out that even if your budget is stretched here, serving up something decent is possible: “It can still be tasty,” he promises. “We can make a finger buffet, which keeps costs down.”
There’s one thing he will steer you away from: “Sandwiches! They go hard after 40 minutes, and nobody wants that. Instead, we can provide filled brioche finger buns. They’re delicious and stay softer for longer.”
THEMING & IDEAS
“The evening buffet is the perfect chance to let your guests have a bit of fun,” suggests Susannah. “Going for something interactive, like a DIY station with pretty signage, is an appealing way to make the food more interesting and appetising.”
And don’t just stick to food, she adds. You can always introduce a bit of booze into the mix: “Pairing grub with a drink goes down well. Espresso martinis are a great late-night pick-me-up!”
Think outside the box when designing the menu. “We’re happy if you want to mix and match buffet styles to cater for a variety of tastes,” says Elaine. “Some like to add a fun and funky element and mix that in with something more traditional. Is Friday night ‘pizza night’ in your house? Why not translate to the buffet? Our one-minute pizzas have been such a hit since we brought in our specialist pizza ovens. Guests love the novelty of the interaction with our chefs and it looks so appealing, not to mention how delicious it smells!” adds the Hudsons supremo.
George at 3G has some more ideas: “We love doing Yorkshire puddings served with different hot and cold fillings,” he says. “And our Scottish tapas are really popular too.”
If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably be in the mood for pudding too. “We can craft a swan out of choux pastry and fill it with cream and fruit – it tastes delicious and is really impressive,” promises George.
Drinking on an empty stomach is a bad idea – and often it’s the next day that you pay the price. So your evening guests will thank you for anything you do that helps prevent them waking up with a hangover.
“Most people appreciate a bit of stodge to soak up the alcohol after a long day of celebrating,” agrees Susannah.
Her chefs at Bespoke will rustle up the ultimate drunk grub: “We can do chips with a choice of curry sauce, gravy, salt and chilli, or cheese – it reminds the party-goers of a late-night food stop, and they absolutely love it.”
The Hudsons team have a menu that hits the spot too: “Pizza, chips, fajitas, nachos and a build-you-own burger station are all options,” tempts Elaine.
I’m getting hungry just thinking about it…