Cosmo, Clifton Triangle: Review

Photo by Jon Craig (http://freelancinguk.co.uk)

 

All-you-can-eat culture is booming in Bristol. Everyone must, by now, be aware of Za Za Bazaar, holding up to 1,100 diners at any one time, and Flavourz always appears to be busy whenever I walk past.

Franchise restaurant Cosmo, located on the Triangle, was closed for refurbishment for four months at the start of 2012, before finally reopening to the public on April 26th. We were invited by Cosmo’s PR agency to head over there and check out the changes…

As well as removing the “pay first” policy (customers now head over to a counter at the end of their meal to pay), Cosmo have added some new elements such as a Japanese Robata grill and an Indian tandoor.

A Saturday lunchtime, on reflection, may not have been the best time to visit, as it meant that we didn’t get the full Cosmo experience. Don’t get me wrong – the restaurant was busy (we had to wait for ten minutes to be seated as they had lost our booking), and the front desk seemed a little chaotic. Some of the food “stations”, however, were closed at the time of our visit: I’d have been interested to see whether the sushi, for example, had improved since our last visit, but it wasn’t available.

The new tandoor was in full swing, though, giving us the theatre of a chef carefully threading marinated chicken pieces onto huge skewers before placing them in the traditional clay oven to cook.

Unfortunately the service seemed as chaotic as before, but this appears to be common to all large-scale buffet restaurants. Being asked what we would like to drink before we even sat down seemed overly keen, but we then had to chase our order after waiting for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, we headed over to check out the food on offer…

The food at Cosmo is a bit of a mixed bag. The choices on offer are mainly Indian and Chinese, but these sit alongside the likes of chips, hash browns and cocktail sausages (presumably aimed at younger diners…?), and a token nod to Italian cuisine in the form of two pizzas and a large pasta dish.

Our consensus was that the Indian food was the star of the show – it’s good to see an improvement, as the curries were fairly poorly executed before the refurb. The chicken cooked in the brand new tandoor oven was lovely and tender, and we were both fans of the pureed aubergine dish (I forget the name). This was just one of a number of vegetarian options available, which also included a tasty mutter paneer and aloo gobi. There were also fresh naan breads and poppadums available, which I didn’t try (I didn’t want to fill up on bread!) but have heard good things about from others.

The Chinese food, however, was a little hit and miss. Bizarrely, it was the Chinese that was better than the Indian before the refurb – this has definitely now changed. I enjoyed the roasted black pepper pork, but the lemon chicken was disappointing – the chicken itself dry, the batter and the sauce both overly sugary. Not as much of a selection as we were expecting on the Chinese front, but we were getting pretty full by that point anyway!

One thing that we both picked up on was that there was a large number of “chef’s specials” on offer, which suggests that the selection of dishes on offer will be changing regularly. It would have helped, however, if there was a description of what each of these special dishes was: the lack of labelling for each of these special dishes meant that it was quite hard to try and ascertain what each one contained. We were also a little confused as to why each of the dishes had a hinged lid which wasn’t being used – every serving station remained with its lid wide open for the duration of our visit.

While we were tucking into our food, a large queue formed to the side of us – as it turned out, this was for the dessert counter. We waited till the queue had died down and headed over to find out what all of the fuss was about.

Starting with a selection of four cakes, the counter progressed to fresh fruit (well, fresh and what looked like tinned fruit), mini eclairs, cubes of jelly and, bizarrely, cherry tomatoes. The freezer containing catering tubs of soft scoop ice cream (strawberry, chocolate and vanilla) was overrun with children, which explains the long queue times. I tried a piece of Black Forest Gateau, which was surprisingly good for something that appeared to have been defrosted, but we were disappointed not to see any hot desserts, which had been promised in Cosmo’s press release. Maybe these only appear in the evenings.

It’s hard to justify complaining about any element of our meal when the prices are so low (Monday to Friday lunch is £6.99; Saturday lunch is £7.99; Monday to Thursday dinner is £12.99; Friday to Saturday dinner is £14.99; Sundays & Bank Holidays whole day is £12.99). Cosmo definitely has a time and a place – for groups of people who can’t agree on what to eat, and for families with children, it’s not a bad shout. Drinks prices are fairly reasonable, and it always seems popular with students. I’d be interested to hear comments from others who have visited since the refurbishment…

 

Please note: this meal was received free of charge, but in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.

 

Find Cosmo on the Bristol Bites Directory…

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5 Responses to Cosmo, Clifton Triangle: Review

  1. A very balanced review, and one I agree with (having been your partner in crime on this one). I would say that the front of house wasn't the best I have seen and was more than a little chaotic. Certainly a number of people were grumbling about the wait but I think this comes down to a lack of communication on the part of the staff.

    The food was pretty decent, the Chinese food was okay, and certainly matched ZZB for quality (theirs was equally disappointing). The Indian food I enjoyed and would happily eat again. £7.99 for decentish all you can eat food? Yes, that'll do nicely.

    • EmilyKnight247

      Thanks, Jose! As I say, I think the chaos is to be expected in all large all-you-can-eat restaurants, so can't really hold this against them too much.

      I actually prefer the Chinese food at Za Za, though, but agree with your comments about the Indian. It's good value on a Saturday lunchtime, but not sure I'd pay evening prices to revisit.

  2. Think we must have visited on the same occasion as I totally agree with all you have said with the addition of replenishment being a little on the slow side. They ran out of ribs and chow mein quickly and it took a couple of visits back up before it had been replenished and the same went for the ice cream, children being children arent very patient. But as you say, for that price….

  3. I went yesterday evening (Friday) and I was pretty impressed to be honest. Like you say the Indian food was the star. The lamb in the Rogan Josh was absolutely amazing. The dim sum also stood out for me, I could literally have just eaten that and I'd have been happy.

    Chinese food was the pretty standard buffet fare of red stuff, brown stuff and yellow stuff. Similar to the dessert options of chocolate thing, red thing, yellow thing and half-frozen chocolate eclairs. If I went again I would only eat the Indian and dumplings really.

    A few other grips; chaotic service, our drinks turned up twice within about 30 seconds, the tap water was luke warm and in small glasses (pre-refit it was cold and in pint glasses which I loved) and lastly a lot of dishes were labelled as "chef's special" which was totally useless for someone who likes to know what they are eating. I chose some deep-fried thing that was "chef's special" and it was full of bones, I still have no idea what it was.

    Anyway, it's a good place to go with friends if you can't decide what 'proper' restaurant to visit.

  4. The food was quite good for this type of restaurant but the manager service was absolutely appaling. We arrived on time and were not allowed to our pre-booked table for 20 minutes, and the cue was long outside and it was raining. The restaurant was empty and ready. It was my 9 year old, and during the meal we could not find one of the children and he would not help us. Furthermore I wanted to do the birthday cake but the waiting staff would not clear the table for ages. I asked the manager and he told me there was nothing to clear. Then he complained 3 times because the kids were being lound. Nightmare!

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