From ArticleWorld

A buffet is a meal characterized by people serving themselves from food laid out on tables or a sideboard, whether at parties, conferences, or restaurants. A buffet is usually put on to efficiently feed many people.

The standard practice in buffets is that many dishes are set out, often in chafing dishes that are warmed from below with spirit lamps, and patrons or guests walk down the line, choosing what they want and serving themselves. This is a common practice in North American and British Indian and Chinese restaurants, as well as in salad bars and cafeteria]]s, at railway stations and in office blocks, where the food might be everything from cold cuts to soup and carved meat, vegetables, potatoes, and dessert. The Swedish smörgåsbord is a more traditional buffet, as are formal teas. Some buffets are all-you-can-eat.

A buffet requires less servers, and is often also cheaper to prepare, because of bulk buying and cooking od dishes and restricted selections. It is thus often seen as a lower form of eating out, but is completely acceptable at private parties.

The buffet car on trains is a passenger car where, unlike in the dining car, is where food and drink are available for sale and standing-up consumption, rather than offering a sit-down meal.