Allgauer's on the Riverfront • Northbrook
Sunday; reservations accepted
Cost: $32.95 buffet, $14.95 ages 4-11, free for children under 4

Pace yourself. The sheer variety of food here is tremendous. Although there is no single stand-out dish, there is something for just about everyone, from made-to-order omelets and poached salmon to a pasta station, salads and tasty prime rib. The dessert table inspired drooling among the teenage set. With waiters uncorking champagne and removing plates as fast as they were emptied, the experience felt hedonistic. We enjoyed the shrimp with cocktail sauce, tender prime rib and steamed vegetables, which were crisp rather than soggy. The atmosphere is pleasantly elegant yet family friendly, with a nice view from the dining room windows of a woodsy scene outdoors. The dining room feels classy enough to deserve some live piano music, but instead we listened to mildly annoying low-volume pop songs in the background. The dessert table was a big hit for our family, especially the chocolate fountain, where fruit, marshmallows, even Twizzlers were available for dipping. There is also a make-your-own sundae bar, and variety of cheesecakes, pies and cookies to satisfy any sweet tooth. This is a good place for special occasions with family members who can't agree on what to eat. -- Lisa Black

Barn of Barrington • Barrington
Sunday; reservations recommended
Cost: $26.95 buffet, $12.95 ages 4-10, free for children 3 and under

Just to be clear, don't wear your overalls here. This cavernous restaurant is elegant and yet approachable, with a terrifically appointed champagne Sunday brunch not to be missed. The centerpiece is "50 feet of sweets," including a large chocolate fountain surrounded by fruit, licorice, pretzels and cookies. But the real attraction is the variety of dishes. The seafood selection of smoked fish, mussels and shrimp is pleasing, as is the lox station with three kinds of caviar. A carving station offers turkey, ham, lamb and beef. The made-to-order omelet station serves up your eggs with a side of humor from the chef, so you can skip the overdone eggs Benedict in the chafing dish. The mashed potato bar was just average, but had a nice mushroomy gravy. Hot items include Belgian waffles, biscuits and gravy, potatoes, breakfast meats, pasta, and sausage with sauerkraut. Veggie fans will love the large selection of prepared salads and fruit slices. And for the hard to please, there is a deli meats tray to make your own sandwich. One quibble: There were no labels on the items so it was hard to tell what things were. There's no live entertainment -- just some easy-listening music piped in. But the buffet room was formally set and had romantic lighting illuminating the exposed brick and beamed ceiling. Service was terrific. The champagne glass was kept full, and the offerings on the buffet hardly looked touched, even as the crowd swelled. -- Kara Sheehan

Cantigny's Fareways • Winfield
Sunday; reservations accepted
Cost: $22.95 buffet, $20.95 for adults 60 and over; $10.95 ages 6-12, children under 5 are free

This restaurant, sunny and pleasant, overlooks a golf course. There was not a building in sight from the large windows. With development everywhere in suburbia, it was relaxing to feel a bit removed from that. The restaurant's interior is elegant, but it felt a bit like an obstacle course because there were too many tables to negotiate easily as I was returning to my table with plates laden with food. There were an ample number of dishes including scrambled eggs, eggs Benedict, bacon, sausage, chicken Vesuvio, a platter of over-sized shrimp, a carving station with ham and roast beef and plenty of pastries. The food was warm, but it tended to taste bland. The chicken Vesuvio lacked zing. The oversized shrimp looked appealing, but needed a thick coating of cocktail sauce. The made-to-order omelets were the best of the egg dishes perhaps because they could be made with ingredients such as onions or tomatoes to add more flavor. The dessert tables had the best of the offerings. There were plenty of bite-size desserts: brownies, mini cheesecakes, petit fours and a chocolate fountain. The fruit was fresh and tasty. The service was excellent. Drinks were refilled quickly and a server fixed our wobbly table. -- Annemarie Mannion

The Clubhouse • Oak Brook
Sunday; reservations strongly recommended
Cost: $26 buffet, $10 ages 5-12, children under 4 are free; $34 (with unlimited sparkling wine), $42 (with unlimited champagne)

The Clubhouse is located in the Oak Brook Mall, which is fortunate because diners will need to do lots of walking around after stuffing themselves silly. The restaurant is expansive, with the buffet located on the second floor. There was plenty of room to maneuver around the serving tables, but the dessert area seemed to get kind of backed up, especially around the chocolate fountain, any why not? The food was, in a word, overwhelming. The selection was endless, more than anyone could even sample. Do you have a traditional breakfast of eggs and Belgian waffles, or do you go with a variety of salads and hot-plate-quality selections? Pasta salads; grilled veggies; salmon, shrimp and other seafood; jambalaya. Prime rib and Japanese pork were carved to order. Then, there's the dessert dilemma: Key lime pie, tiramisu, creme brulee, carrot cake. Of course, it is impossible to resist dipping a strawberry or three into the chocolate fountain. The banana walnut French toast was worth a rave. The eggs Benedict seemed a tad underdone; the bacon overcooked. The kids weren't overlooked. One area served chicken tenders, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and mac and cheese. One question that needs to be asked is: Why does the Clubhouse charge extra for orange juice and coffee, after laying out such an enormous spread? -- Richard Wronski

Convito Cafe & Market • Wilmette
Sunday; reservations recommended
Cost: $8-$14.50 a la carte entrees