As non-frequent buffet goers, these are all questions that we will try to solve as we compare the big end of town with its less expensive cousin (not that the two establishments are related by any means that we know of).
Signatures Buffet (Merrylands RSL)
Location: Merrylands RSL Club. 14 Military Road Merrylands
Phone: 02 8868 7777
Service: Self Serve but they were efficient in getting us stuff when we asked and clearing plates
Ate: Pictured (it's a buffet, who knows what you're going to get)
Outrageous... And for $22 it's pretty good. That's why lining up at the buffet feels a bit like lining up for a bus in Hong Kong (elbows out, every person for themselves and watch for short old ladies because they'll take you out first).
Food quality is pretty good not outstanding and slightly rough in terms of prep (e.g. half a buk choi - Four in Hand style) but pretty good. Pick wisely and you can eat fairly "healthily" because it's not all deep fried/fatty cuts. Definitely better than one would expect for the price, they even have oysters, pippi's and a chocolate fountain.
Some of the desserts could have been given a miss (e.g. that thing that looks like a pecan pie but it's not).
Café Mix (Shangrila)
Location: 176 Cumberland Street, The Rocks
Phone: 02 9250 6123
Price: Slightly High
Service: Self Serve, cleared plates quickly but maybe too eager because they took our crab shell cracker a bit early
Ate: Pictured - Seafood is Café Mix's buffet draw card.
At $80 we went into this thinking "what do we need to consume to get the $80 worth". So we figured 2 plates of crab and Balmain bugs (one of the crabs was undercooked).
For a "Seafood" Buffet it was a bit limited in the seafood... Crab, bugs, oysters, prawns, salmon, maybe sushi? Merrylands RSL had oysters, prawns, sushi and (fried) fish (possibly hake...)
We did manage to fill up mostly on seafood though. But then we needed to try every other station too.
The Asian station could probably have been given a miss, not that exciting. And they should throw out the macarons because the shells were dried out on this visit.
Fairy Floss and Crepes made on the spot are a plus (these may change)
Which would we pick? Probably neither, there are more interesting things to eat out there than buffet. But if we must, then both depending on the situation (and what's closer at the time).
Note the 60% increase in the number of plates we ate at Café Mix...there's an experiment in there somewhere - correlation between price paid and quantity consumed to hit perceived "money's worth".