February 2017 marks the sixth anniversary of my eating adventures and, as ever, I'm excited about what the coming months will bring for us foodies! In case this is your first visit (if not, welcome back), I'm a 30-something female with a very healthy appetite!...I promise to share with you my experience of each restaurant, café or bar in which I set foot...so, let's go out!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

COSMO - Clifton Triangle, Bristol

The concept of Pan Asian buffet-style restaurants has been a relatively popular one for some time now and I have to say that I have visited some that have left me cold, offering little more than a host of deep-fried food stuffs that wouldn't be out of place on an Iceland Party Platter! However, I'm pleased to report that my recent visit to COSMO, situated on Bristol's Clifton Triangle, constituted quite a different experience...

Date and Time: Friday 17th June 2011, 19:30
Name of Establishment: COSMO
Location: The Pavilion, Triangle West Clifton, Bristol
Reason for Visit: Downright gluttony!

It would be fair to say that the initial feeling upon stepping into COSMO is one of confusion; it's the only restaurant I know where you pay before you are seated and this is proceeded in a chaotic queuing system, just inside the door within an intimate waiting area which, as you can imagine, becomes rather busy with groups of expectant diners, particularly on a Friday or Saturday night. Once paid-up, you are issued with a ticket and must queue again, this time to wait to be seated. Even the bar has a line of people at it, as payment is whizzed through the till before you join the back of the queue, receipt in hand, and wait for your drink(s) to be prepared. However, once this bizarre herding ritual has ceased, the foodie fun begins!

With three times the variety on offer in comparison to COSMO's rivals, you'd expect to pay three times more for the privilege. Yet, with evening prices at £12.99 Sunday-Thursday and £13.99 Friday and Saturday, this is the most reasonable eat-as-much-as-you-like restaurant in the vicinity. With dishes inspired from nine Eastern countries (namely; China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Mongolia, Singapore, Vietnam and India) there are a multitude to choose from. Prawn toasts and satay-chicken skewers aside, I started at the sushi bar where I chose from a selection of appealing Maki rolls which were served with soya sauce for dipping and wasabi for...erm...choking on! To note, there is also a veggie option in this section for the less-adventurous palate.

The Boy made a beeline for the Teppanyaki Grill for his main course where you select your own fresh ingredients for the chef to cook in front of you – on this occasion he returned with his plate full of salmon which he reported to be well-cooked and perfectly pink! There is an abundance of tasty accompaniments to plate alongside your main (and some slightly dodgier options – I'm looking at you doughy naan bread and limp French Fries!) – the broccoli cooked with fresh ginger is a particular favourite as well as the rice noodles which are light and expertly spiced. I chose from the Indian/Thai pod where there are several fragrant curries to choose from – I tried both the Thai red and Thai green curries – the latter being the dish of the night for me with it's contrasting heat against the creamy, calm of its coconut baseline. There really is so much to choose from though, that I really can't do it justice. The crispy aromatic duck, offered alongside crisp spring onion, a sticky Hoisin sauce and delicate pancakes for wrapping, were a popular choice. I even noticed that they were serving dim sum – on this occasion pork dumplings - which I really wished I had room to try, (note to self – wear elasticated waistline on next visit!).

COSMO also boasts a somewhat spectacular array of puddings, a far cry from the crusty ice cream and lychee garnish that you usually find at this genre of establishment. I'm going to be honest, with my famous sweet tooth I would pay my fee for the dessert buffet alone. Seriously, the options are endless and so, in an attempt to give you a reasonable idea of what I'm talking about, I'm going to list my favourites (channelling Brian Butterfield as I do so!) There is; a chocolate fountain with all the trimmings, cake, gateaux, profiteroles, rainbow-effect jelly slithers, three varieties of ice cream, trifle and a huge bowl of light and fruity Eton Mess that you portion with a ladel! There are also the strangest selection of petits fours imaginatively put together – think jaffa cakes sandwiching whipped cream and decorated with 'Haribo' or chocolate mini rolls topped with a piped line of cream in which nestles a Cadbury's chocolate finger. Bizarre? Yes, but COSMO certainly do not lose any points for originality. Finally, if this wasn't enough, there is also an extensive selection of fresh fruit, (just in case you were missing those aforementioned lychees!)

In conclusion, a somewhat chaotic dining experience – it's noisy, fast-paced and with the initial queuing system and an allocated time slot, the whole experience can feel a little rushed – even the staff are poised, ready to swoop in to take away empty plates, regardless of whether you have finished your last mouthful or not. Yet, over 30,000 people dine at a COSMO restaurant every week* and for good reason...an abundance of tasty food for a one-off price which happens to be delivered in a clean, smartly decorated space. Sure, there remains what The Boy refers to as the 'freezer-food section' and you really do have to bypass some of the lower quality titbits to get to the good stuff but there are some lovely dishes on offer – my tips are to visit hungry and save room for dessert because if you are anything like me and want to try everything, you need to have prepared yourself for what can only be described as a feast. COSMO aim to 'Cook Fresh, Eat Fresh' and if you pick wisely, you'll be sure to find dishes that support this ethos – but let's be honest, love it or hate it, COSMO is a guilty pleasure - not particularly classy but for me (and apparently many other like-minded diners), it certainly hits the spot!
I didn't really want to include photos as I thought that they wouldn't appropriately capture the variety that COSMO offers...but I couldn't resist this one!
And now for a second (and third) opinion....due to the 'love it or hate it' concept, I thought I'd give you both alternatives...
The Boy gave COSMO a rating of 9/10 and in three words, described this venue as, 'variety', 'quality' and 'taste'.
The Boss gave COSMO a rating of 2/10 and in three words, described this venue as 'not for me'.
In light of this, it's probably best to check it out for yourself...however, do let me know what you think!

*According to the website - http://www.cosmo-restaurants.co.uk/index.html

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