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Red Hot World Buffet

If there is one type of food I know a lot about it’s ‘all you can eat buffets’. I’m a big fan of travelling around America and if there’s one thing that American’s do very well it’s ‘all you can eat buffets’. There is something very satisfying about paying a single price and stacking your plate high again and again with good food and leaving very full, with your wallet still pretty much intact.

The problem is that in the past Britain hasn’t really got the concept right. They have been either too expensive with poor quality food or very cheap but with even poorer quality food. The balance is to get it all right; price, quality, choice, service and atmosphere – it all has to be right to make it work.

So I was intrigued to try Red Hot World Buffet in the Theatre District. They claim to have 120 different dishes available from seven different types of world cuisines so, I’m guessing choice won’t be a problem. The all-you-can-eat prices start from £7.99 at lunchtime and £12.99 at dinner, so price is also looking good. The big issues are still their ability to create a good atmosphere in the restaurant and the, probably more importantly, the quality of the food and the service.

When we arrive and there is no mistaking the overriding colour scheme; black and red – but it works. It’s classy and the atmosphere is good, lively and certainly doesn’t give the impression of the canteen style dining that these types of restaurants can sometimes have. We have our own table and we have enough room. Our waiter asks us if we’ve ever been before, and then goes on to explain how it all works. You order any drinks with the waiter, but with regards to the food, just take a plate and help yourself – my kind of eating. I also had taken my 20 month son with me and this type of dining really works well for children, no hanging around waiting to order and then more time to try and keep them amused while you wait for the food to arrive. Just grab a plate and start eating!

The only way to describe the buffet area is very, very impressive. Again nothing is crammed in, it’s all laid out well and the food is presented to look very appetising. After a quick look around to see the wide choice available (I didn’t actually count the number of dishes but 120 is definitely near the mark) I sorted a few dishes for my son to try. Now, the one thing with buffets is that all normal food etiquette goes out the window. You get back to your table and find different types of food on your plate that under normal circumstance, you would not serve together. My first plate had pasta salad, tandori chicken, crispy duck (with a pancake) and three fresh shell-on prawns! But it works and you don’t seem to care! This is also the beauty of eating with children they can try loads of different dishes and foods without costing the earth and you feeling mortified when they spit most of it back out...although my son loved the olives and the sushi!

So, now we get down to it – quality of food.  The food was tasty, fresh and hot (where needed). Because the restaurant is busy the food isn’t left to sit for ages, the constant turnover of people means that the food is always topped up and therefore is fresh at all times, and this really makes a difference. My other half decided to try out the Indian range of food with a few different curries, together with rice and Naan bread – all very good and tasty – one even made him sweat a bit! I also tried out one of the ‘live stations’ – which is something a bit different. The chefs behind the counter will cook your chosen dish before your very eyes, including pasta, Indian ‘Dancing wok’, a noodle bar and Chinese stir fry. And no sooner as we’d cleared our plates, the waiters were there to clean it away, we just had to pick a new plate the next time we went up to the buffet.

After we had sampled the delights of the starters and main courses available, my eyes were drawn to the dessert area of the buffet as were my son’s. There is a vast array of small desserts to choose from and I kept having to remind myself I could come back for more. Chocolate mousse, strawberry mousse, tiramisu, apple crumble, chocolate brownies, lemon tart and more – the individual jelly pots went down particularly well with my little boy (he managed three of them!). They even make their own ice cream on site with some fantastic flavours, plus they have a live fruit flambé station, where fresh fruit is heated and served with your choice of liqueur.

My overriding feeling at the end of our Red Hot experience is that finally someone in Britain has got the ‘all you can eat buffet’ experience right. Right price, right quality, right amount of choice, right level of service and the right atmosphere. I can’t wait to go back again to try out probably about 90 dishes I didn’t manage this time around (I may have to go back a few times!)

Summary:
What Red Hot World Buffet does really well is give you sense that you have got real value for money. Either at lunchtime or at dinner you know that the set price you pay is all you have to pay apart from your drinks. You get a massive selection of dishes to choose from and you go away happy and very, very full if you’re anything like me. What struck me if that the restaurant is perfect for any type of event, a family meal as kids love the choice and especially the homemade ice cream, a business lunch, a romantic meal for two or a celebration meal for 20 people. But one word of caution, book your table in advance, as otherwise you might just find yourself disappointed!

Facilities:

Children’s menu
Not specifically but children under 10 dine for half price.

Disabled facilities
Lift available to the main restaurant. Disabled toilets are available.

Parking
Weekday daytime parking can be difficult and costly (pay and display). Evenings, after 6.00pm, there is plenty of parking available and it is free.

Other amenities
Lively bar area to enjoy a drink with friends