We were recently invited to review the menu at the Red Hot World Buffet in Cardiff. As we're fans of eating out, and I personally feel that a buffet is my favourite ever meal (seriously! What more could you ever want to eat when there's such variety available?), I was very keen to try it out. I'd heard great things from the children in school about it, and I'll admit that put me off slightly; if it's a favourite with children, is it just a more elaborate fast food joint?
'No' is the answer.
We went into the 270 cover Cardiff restaurant at midday on Saturday, it was busy but there were still plenty of tables. Seated quickly at a clean and tidy table with plenty of cutlery and glassware, The Boy was given a clean highchair (take note Frankie & Benny's!) and we perused the paper placemat which explained the system to us. Our waitress was over within five minutes to take our drinks orders (which arrived within another five minutes) and was very pleasant and friendly.
I went up first to check out the system, and got way-laid by all the sights, sounds and smells! Then when I'd worked out where everything was, I took The Boy to choose his food, closely followed by Mr. TBaM in third place.
There are a variety of food stations, 95% of which are self service: salads (many of which are Mediterranean inspired), Italian pizzas and pasta (with a chef cooking risotto to order while you wait), Spanish, traditional British, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Tex Mex, Sushi, and probably a few more which I've forgotten. In the evenings, there are more dishes available.
There is a huge desserts station with the most beautifully prepared tiny sweets, tarts, mousses and cakes. The Boy's face lit up when he saw the vast array of traditional and adventurous ice-creams!
Each dish is well prepared, cooked and presented, as well as being incredibly tasty. When I looked at the menu online beforehand, I was sceptical. "How on Earth can that many dishes be cooked to a high standard, be tasty and not stand around for a long time waiting to be served?"
Easily. The serving dishes are not deep so the food at the bottom hasn't congealed waiting to be eaten, bacteria isn't breeding and the food doesn't get dried out. Additionally some of the dishes (risotto and stir-fry) are cooked freshly. I counted at least ten chefs behind the food stations with another five constantly monitoring the cleanliness of the serving dishes, replenishing platters and wiping up any spillages.
And so to the food that we ate.
- The Boy had pizza, some salad bits, bread, cheese and chips.
- I had a plate of salad, pizza and a few wedges. I also had a quesadilla (the hottest thing I've ever tasted!) and the most delicious little mango and cheese tartlets. I went back for more!
- Mr. TBaM went spicy and had Indian, Chinese and some Tex Mex.
- The Boy and I shared some of the puddings together, as well as him having a bowl of ice-cream. Each portion was small, one or two bites, but that was more than enough.
The main thing that struck me was that despite it being billed as an 'all you can eat' buffet, and both of us going back for a little more to test that theory, there wasn't wastage and it wasn't excessive. Slices of pizzas, for example, were thin but alongside the other things that on your plate, that was enough. It also means that the restaurant aren't wasting food with people leaving excessive amounts of food.
Mr. TBaM took The Boy up to the toilets on the first floor and this was the only criticism of the restaurant. For somewhere that has over 250 covers, three urinals and two cubicles aren't really enough for a restaurant of that size. However, it was clean and tidy. We've taken to shouting, "Don't touch a thing!" to The Boy in public toilets but that wasn't necessary.
As for anything else wrong with the place, I tried to find something, I really did! If anyone has read my Frankie & Benny's review, they'll know I'm not afraid of pointing out the awfulness of somewhere, but I couldn't at Red Hot World Buffet. I watched the table of three adults and one toddler leave next to us and it was a mess. Within two minutes it had been stripped of debris, thoroughly cleaned, seats and floor swept, and the table relaid with a new family sat down. I can't fault the staff at all. And I can't fault the food. It was some of the tastiest I've had in a while.
I always moan to my mum that I can't find anywhere in Cardiff to take The Boy. Everywhere is unfriendly to pushchairs, children or vegetarians. It's also expensive. But not at Red Hot World Buffet. At £9.99 for a Saturday lunchtime buffet, it's comparable to the other well-known restaurants, especially if you include a dessert into that. We paid £2.65 for a pint of soft drink which is a good price.
In total the meal came to £27.93 for three of us. Children under ten eat for half price but in this instance The Boy wasn't charged for his food. I can't see anything on Red Hot World Buffet site which indicates toddlers are free (often places put them down as eating from a parent's plate) so it might just have been a fluke on this occasion. I think that's a really good price, especially as we paid £10 more for food (which wasn't as tasty) the next day in another restaurant.
So, golden question: Would I go again if paying for it? YES!
Red Hot World Buffet invited us to try their food with a complimentary meal; all opinions are our own.