Why can’t men multi-task?
For a prime example of a man putting all his time and energy into doing just one thing very well, head for Cosmo, the city’s newest all you can eat buffet boasting global cuisine and a bargain price of £13.99 a head.
Cosmo is the latest restaurant in Sheffield’s new dining quarter, St Paul’s Place - and the 15th in what is the UK’s fast-growing chain.
It’s glam - done more like a North Sea Ferry cruiser than your regular pick-mix-gorge. The place is vast - and packed; over 400 people are eating on a Wednesday night. Streams of diners are flowing around the help-yourself counters choosing from 150 freshly-cooked dishes from India, China, Japan, Vietnam, Brazil, Italy and France,
made by 26 chefs.
It’s one constantly surging current. Except at the Japanese teppanyaki griddle. We join an impatient queue, assuming whatever is at the end is too good to miss. We wait and wait. Finally, two people exit with bits of seafood on their plates. I spy an empty griddle and a chef preparing to do it all again for the next two in the line.
Sod that. We head off to cruise through India, China, Mexico, Thailand and Singapore.
The Thai tom yum soup is greasy and overpoweringly hot-and-sour. But the Chinese dim sum dumplings, steamed in bamboo pots, especially the char siu bow, are all light, pleasantly sticky and flavoursome. Another foraging trip results in Singapore-style satay chicken with sauce (okay but a bit bland), DIY crispy duck pancakes (fine) and perfectly acceptable Indian bahjees, pakhoras and samosas and skewered chicken cooked over charcoal.
The seafood station had only sushi rolls and a few cooked mussels, so we pitch for the teppanyaki again. Eventually it’s my turn to watch my very own scallop and three prawns being flipped and fried. The griddle guy is an expert but why the heck can’t he load up the hotplate with enough to feed the whole queue with what I discovered was the best food in the house?
For mains, we bypassed England (roast beef carvery with veg and Yorkshires), Italy (seafood risotto, three pasta sauces and pizza slices) and Mexico (tacos, chilli and chicken fahitas) and headed for bigger isles of Asian food. Pad Thai was zingy, most and moreish, the green and red Thai chicken curries perfectly acceptable, but not exceptional.
The dessert counter is filled with sweet temptation - mainly gateaux, ice creams and cheesecakes. I go for marshmallows dipped into the chocolate fountain and shot glasses of mango and chocolate mousse. The husband opts for his favourite, Eton Mess.
The mousses taste of nothing and have the texture of shaving foam. The chocolate tastes great, but looks like oil has been added. His dessert is a mess indeed; the meringue has all but melted and there’s barely a trace of soft fruit.
But on the whole, Cosmo does what it does extremely well; the venue is as glamorous as a five-star Asian hotel with marble surfaces, natural stone counters, ambient lighting and laid-back music. Full marks for atmosphere.
Although you serve yourself, service gets high marks, too. Staff whisk away empty plates and replenish drinks and cutlery constantly.
But griddled scallops apart, there was no standout dish. The food is fine, but unremarkable.
Where Cosmo scores is the price - lunch is from £7.99 and dinner is £13.99 - and the sheer variety under one roof. It means you can try something new without worrying about the expense, and arrive knowing you will be going home sated. Clearly, that’s what Sheffielders want right now.
WHERE AND WHEN:
Cosmo, St Paul’s Place, Sheffield
Tel: 0114 2769900
Open: Lunch 12-3pm Mon-Fri, 12-4pm Sat, dinner 5.30-10.30pm Mon-Thurs, 5.30-11pm Fri. 5-11pm Sat. Open noon to 10pm Sundays.
STAR RATINGS OUT OF FIVE: