A buffet is a system of serving meals in which food is placed in a public area where the diners generally serve themselves. Buffets are offered at various places including hotels and many social events. Sideboards are also known as buffets as they may be used to offer the dishes of a buffet meal to guests. A buffet can also be referred to as a cafeteria, snack bar, counter and smorgasbord. The word buffet comes from Fr bufet _bench, stool, sideboard_, from the 12th century. The definition of buffet was extended to mean a _meal served from a buffet_ in 1888. One form of buffet is to have a table filled with plates containing fixed portions of food; customers select plates containing whichever food items they want as they walk along. This form is most commonly seen in cafeterias. A variation occurs in a Dim sum house, where the patrons make their selections from a wheeled trolley containing the different plates of food that circulate through the restaurant.
Contributions by Doctorfluffy, Dpbsmith, and SmackBot.