|black pepper chicken/sweet and sour chicken at Cosmo|
Once seated, you order your drinks and are then given full-reign of the 150-or-so dishes on offer within the restaurant. You can choose Thai, Chinese, Mexican, English, Italian, Japanese, and Indian (don't miss this - it's round the corner at the back of the restaurant) - and you can go up as many times as you want. Although we were told that the full range of dishes isn't out at lunchtimes, there was really plenty to choose from. I opted for Chinese noodles (lovely - dark, thin and full of flavour), along with some sweet and sour chicken and also some black pepper chicken. The chicken was moist and tender. My husband opted for some mini spring rolls and crispy prawns with his noodles, although these had the shell on underneath the batter so required a bit of DIY-peeling, but nothing too major.
|noodles, spring rolls and crispy prawns at Cosmo, Reading|
I don't usually go for the buffet-style 'all you can eat' restaurants - but I found benefits with it here. Firstly, you can eat there on special diets. Gluten free? Then choose rice instead of bread. Low-carb? Fill your plate with meat and veggies. No one's going to look or question you, and you don't need to go through the whole thing of modifying the set menu with your server. So that was a good thing. Secondly, you don't have to wait. Take your seat, order your drink and GO. We were in and out of there in about 40 minutes, and we filled our plates twice and had pudding too.
As for the environment, I'd say it's great if you just want a quick lunch or if you're having a party. But it wouldn't be my choice for a quiet or more intimate meal. Everyone hurriedly milled about with heaped plates and as soon as they'd finished, they were up again for more. It was quite loud, and where we were seated we were fairly close to the couples either side of us. But as I said, there are occasions where you'd want a busy, vibrant atmosphere like that - quick lunches, parties and something for the kids.
At a lunchtime rate of £7.99 each for as much as you can eat (there's an allocated time slot otherwise people would stay there all day) it's cheap. And I can see why it's so popular. The food was OK - if they could find a way of keeping it hotter that would be better - but it was fine. You can eat quickly, you don't have to wait, and you eat exactly what and how much you want. The staff are attentive and do a good job of keeping everything running smoothly - there's always someone hovering around if you need them. Kids love it, too. Would I go again? Probably I would, with the children. They'd find it really fun. But for a more intimate meal, it wouldn't be my first choice.
Cosmo is at 35-38 Friar Street, Reading RG1 1DX. For more information on the menu, prices and opening hours check out the Cosmo Restaurants website.
We dined at Cosmo as their guests.