I admit it, I'm not a big fan of buffets in general although I do eat out a lot, but I was looking forward to sampling the food and seeing what this experience would be like. To sum up the food was better than expected but the staff let the place down a little.
We arrived on a Sunday afternoon and the restaurant was busy but not full. I had booked ahead so they should have known we were coming and also that we were coming to review the restaurant.
When we got to the restaurant the waiter at the door looked confused, and there wasn't a warm welcome. He sat us on a tiny table, next to the service area,where all we could hear were dishes being washed and something unpleasant like the smell of bins.
I asked politely to move and he moved us to a different area which was much better although it was a similar table and just as cramped. I was a little disappointed to be honest. Another waitress settled us down, but I had to ask how the concept worked as I was not sure, and the information wasn't forthcoming. She appeared pleasant though
Then another waitress came over and the service picked up, although I had to explain again when we were there. She quickly took our drinks order and explained how it worked but it was so quick and seemed rushed. I did feel the staff lacked warmth and the information given was poor, it was a bit of a shame as the food looked good. Some of the staff seemed off hand as if we were an inconvenience. First impressions of the restaurant area was that it was quite dark for 1pm in the afternoon.
I would suggest a proper meet and greeter would improve the experience for the customer, with staff being trained in making customers feel welcome.
Onto the food - the food area was much lighter than the restaurant and the food was split into sections. Sushi, Italian, English, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese and much more. I have to give credit where it is due the food displays were very appetising and fresh looking. Due to the busy nature of the restaurant that afternoon I was confident that most food was freshly cooked and turned over quickly. I started with a dish off the Teppanyaki area. Here the idea is you pick your meat and vegetable, noodles and a sauce and the dish is cooked on a hot plate before your eyes. The food when I tried it was hot, fresh and tasty.
My son went on to have a selection of Indian food, he found the Chicken Tikka Marsala in his words "the nicest I have had for a long time", however didn't really care for the Egg Fried Rice as he thought it was bland. He tried the Pizza twice and it much much better the second time when it was made fresh. If you want to have the nicest food I would wait around the stations to see what was being prepared and cooked there and then. The food that was hanging around the longest did not taste as nice as the freshly prepared food.
I went back to try the Indian food, the Butter Garlic Nan Bread was very tasty and the Onion Bhaji was very nice too and not too greasy, they were both hot and fresh. I tried a selection of Indian dishes, including Chicken Tikka Marsala, and Lamb Rogan Josh, the meat in the first seemed dry however the Rogan Josh was very flavourful.
Pizza And Salads
Onto the desserts. My son had a selection of Creme Brulee, Marshmallow Kebabs dipped in chocolate, Lime Jelly and a Chocolate Truffle. He highly rated the desserts. I had the Banana Caramel Pancakes. These were like little drop pancakes and were made freshly on a hot plate. These were certainly the best part of the meal for me, totally delicious and sweet without being too sickly -they certainly made the meal.
A Selection Of Desserts
To sum up I wish the staff were more welcoming as this started off our experience on the wrong foot. The food when freshly prepared and cooked at the cooking station was tasty, both the Teppanyaki and the pancakes were the nicest parts of the meal.
The drinks selection was decent and they had a lovely choice of 'mocktails' without alcohol. Prices at the Red Hot World Buffet vary between £8.49 to £12.99 for lunch and £12.99 for £14.99 for dinner. Kids always eat at half price which is a good offer.
So Red Hot World Buffet, please look at your staff training and the welcome experience. I really wanted to love your Cardiff restaurant - the food was better than I expected but the staff let it down. I look forward to revisiting for an improved experience.
Update: Red Hot Buffet have taken my comments on board. The manager of the Cardiff branch sent me an email to say that they appreciate my comments. They have said that they were disappointed that my welcome was not how they would have expected. They have re-emphasised the welcome process to the staff. They also stated they would ensure staff asked where customers would like to sit in future and have taken on board my comments on the size of the table. They will also ensure that the concept of the Red Hot Buffet is explained properly.
I am pleased that they seem to be taking my comments on board. I look forward to my next visit!
* I am a Red Hot Buffet TasteMaker, I was given this meal to blog about for an honest review.