Cosmo – World Buffet – Nottingham
I can never quite believe the volume that goes through Nottingham’s all you can eat restaurants. The most popular version of this does now seem to be the world buffet; where, if you so wish, you can eat a multitude of cuisines in one sitting.
The most startling difference about Cosmo is the effort they have put into a “classy” look. I likened their styling to being in a footballers living room (or design by Ali G as someone commented to me) but this does set them apart from the competition, who’s decor is basic at best. The clientele seems to be just as diverse as the food, families with kids, large parties, couples and a group of international students surrounded us.
In these places I like to keep it as conventional as I can going for a few starter bits rather than a straight into a giant plate of food. From the myriad options I bought back an Asian starter selection. My staple Chinese snack of choice, the prawn toast, would more accurately have been called toast in this incarnation. The prawn tempura at least had some appreciable seafood in it, however lacked any flavour, the batter quite light but barely seasoned. Ribs were much more passable, not a lot of meat but the sticky, sweet sauce had a nice tang about it. The best element was some moist chicken that I’d combined with a decent satay sauce, I’d happy have gone back for more of that but decided to press on to try more of what was on offer.
Wandering around scoping out the options I stumbled upon fish “goujons”, Birdseye doing a roaring trade here it seems. Somehow I resisted these golden fingers and sweet and sour chicken kicked off the mains. It appears you are safe with chicken here as they had again cooked it well. This was better than a beef in black bean, the sauce was just too thin, the overcooked beef only serving to make things more disappointing. When I have been to buffet before, the best stuff has been cooked fresh in front of you, the most common way being teppanyaki. They do offer this but options here were a bit limited, either beef or prawn with a few vegetables to add to the noodles. There was also no choice of sauce, as it transpired it was a teriyaki-style and pretty good, probably the best thing I ate. Having said that there were a number of pots near the noodle station, I went to slosh an extra hit of soy on it only to discover it was balsamic vinegar! Note to the management…labels here please.
Desserts were maybe the best section of the meal. Of the “mass produced cakes” selection, a pistachio number had light sponge and cream. An ice cream bar was a popular spot and I couldn’t really argue with the chocolate and hazelnut scoops I had.
I clearly didn’t have the opportunity to eat everything but there was much that didn’t appeal. Pizza’s looked dry and barely better than a supermarket offering, sushi was almost all rice (though there was sashimi) and some Mexican food appeared to have been sitting around longer than is ideal.
My view that a restaurant cannot deliver a wide range of cuisines to a high quality was not changed by this experience. I can see, to an extent, why these places are popular as they cater well for groups and families. Rated against the local competition it probably isn’t quite as good as Red Hot for food but it is much nicer inside.
Cosmo’s tagline appears to be “where do your tastebuds want to go today?”. On this evidence I can think of plenty of places they’d rather be. At £14, yes you won’t be going home hungry but I’d much rather eat at, say, Wagamama than return here.
Restaurant website: http://www.cosmo-restaurants.co.uk/