Buffet-style fixed-price dining in York does not have a happy recent history. Jumbo’s buffet’s repeated headline-grabbing food hygiene offences will certainly live longer in the memory than their food remained in intestinal transit. Cosmo York makes its entrance to York on the back of much happier publicity and and under the halo of an expensive refurbishment to the former Argos premises overlooking the river just off Ouse bridge. Established in 2003 and aiming to offer a large range of good quality food in a family friendly environment at good prices, all the right noises are being made, the question being if the quality can be delivered on.
The striking new Cosmo York facade opens to a surprisingly large space, though when one considers the amount of stock that Argos must have held here it probably shouldn’t have much impact. Dominated by warming stations and open kitchens it’s a bustling space that doesn’t feel cramped and seems to offer carefully calculated routes to the food.
We were easily seated despite turning up unannounced at seven on a Friday evening, in fact we were seated twice after an air conditioning unit started dripping on us. Staff quickly reseated us and I was pleased with the fuss free, quick response and to see that table being taken out of commission for the rest of the evening.
Starting with a few duck pancakes while we found our feet, we quickly moved on to graze on spring rolls, chicken pieces and ribs. The quality was pleasingly high though excepting for slightly dry wraps, the ribs in particular were excellent. Char siu pork buns were excellent but lacked slightly in comparison with Maxi’s superlative offering.
Moving onto the Tepanyaki offering we tried chicken, beef, squid and noodles with various flavourings. The Teriyaki combined with the garlic sauce was particularly excellent and it was a joy to watch the skilled chef preparing our portions. I enjoyed the succulent beef and delicate noodles most. A last portion of steamed eel and rice finished me off, leaving no intention of fighting through a sweet course.
We barely scratched the surface of Cosmo York. Pizza, pasta, traditional Chinese dishes, tandoor cooked meats, indian sides and curries, a Yorkshire car a chocolate fountain and all manner of choices were bombarding the diners. It really does surely offer something for everyone bar the most appallingly allergy afflicted or terminally fussy. Everything we tried was of a pretty consistently high standard. Saying all that, I won’t hurry back. While I certainly enjoyed the food, I just tend to be more decisive and would rather enjoy a single style of dishes that complement each other. Yes you could certainly construct that yourself at Cosmo but the magpie tendency in me wants to grab a little bit of everything.
Additionally there’re other local businesses serving the same individual styles to a similar, if not better, standard with one exception. There’s no other Tepanyaki restaurant, though Cosmo’s customer base seemed slightly resentful at the suggestion they’d have to wait a minute or two for their food… perhaps this isn’t a USP for the masses.
Fairly priced, decent food, acceptable wine, good service and a nice environment speak well for continuing success in York but I don’t feel like I’m the target. If you need to cater for a fussy group of disparate tastes then this is the perfect option.
If i were to offer any criticism I’d encourage the staff to stop constantly talking into their earpieces, it’s unsettling try and grab the attention of one of myriad staff all apparently engaged in debate with themselves. Also the floor was even slipperier than the back of a Google Nexus 4 (the worlds most sensitive spirit level). That might sound like splitting hairs but when the slightest shift in weight shunts you backwards at speed for the 37th time it becomes rather wearing.