After wandering down Market Street after our tram journey from Didsbury, gazing in dazed awe at the bustle of a busy Thursday night in Manchester (and resisting the urge to hit the shots immediately), we arrived at our venue which is conveniently situated at the junction of Deansgate and St Mary’s Gate.
We saw the huge, red emblazoned sign stating that this was, indeed, the Red Hot World Buffet and wondered what we were about to let ourselves in for.
I did have some knowledge of the restaurant. I knew it’s an all you can eat buffet – I would usually associate this with Chinese cuisine but this restaurant offers a range of foods from around the world. A quick check of the website told me that this was English, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Thai, Mexican and more.
I wasn’t sure how this could be accomplished in an all you can eat buffet. Here’s how we got on.
We arrived and were seated immediately by a waiter who showed us to our seat, explained how everything worked and took our drinks order. He explained that we could help ourselves to the buffet as many times as we liked and that we could begin while he sorted our drinks order.
The drinks. I ordered a Kir Royale, whilst Hodge Podge ordered a Berry English. They were quite strong! I like to think I can hold my drink (though maybe I’ve lost my touch?) but boy there was a lot of Kir in there. Which I enjoyed.
My first impressions of the restaurant itself were that it was very busy for a Thursday night, quite loud in an upbeat, friendly way and that there were quite a few large groups of people seemingly celebrating family events or birthdays.
Hodge and I approached the buffet. Hodge had been before and scarpered to attend to her impending selection of hor d’oevres, while I stood frankly astonished and overwhelmed by the choice. Where to even begin?
After my initial panic, I began to wander just to check out what was available. There was a ‘station’ for each cuisine with selections of starters and mains, some of which were cooked to order.
I chose far more than I would usually eat for a starter. I think my plate included Chinese breaded scallops, a mexican tortilla wrap, nachos and cheesy sauce, garlic bread and an Indian delicacy. An electic mix of food, but I really enjoyed being able to sample a bit of everything.
Onto cocktail number two and the main courses…
Now I had deliberated this for some time, knowing that I really ought to choose a key cuisine for the main. I went for Italian and visited one of the live cooking stations to ask for pasta with spinach and four cheese sauce. I watched the friendly chef cook and saw him put quite a lot of cheese in there.
Yet I couldn’t taste it? This was the only disappointing element of the food for the duration of the evening – the sauce was bland. Bad choice!
Luckily, I had also chosen a big slab of pizza and some more garlic bread on the side!
A whole section – large section – dedicated to desserts. A chocolate fountain with marshmallows and sponge cake for dipping, trifle, crumble, brownies, an ice-cream counter, a pancake making station…these are just a few of the desserts I remember seeing (about a tenth of them probably).
My plate included some chocolate fountain goodies, trifle and apple crumble and custard.
Hodge and I agreed that the apple crumble was THE higlight of the evening. It may well have been the best crumble I have ever tasted – and I like crumble and eat a reasonable amount of it. It was r full of cinnamon and flavour with a crunchy topping. Amazing.
We ordered the Caramel and Brownie celebration cake. Of course we were too stuffed to eat any, but we did appreciate the waiters singing a song to us in front of the packed restaurant before asking us the blow out the candles.
The good points
- The food was mostly very good which surprised me for a buffet-style restaurant, where food is often functional and bland. The only food that wasn’t great was the four cheese pasta – but I guess when you’re providing so many different cuisines not everything can be top notch. Choose wisely, my friends!
- This restaurant would be excellent for children, particularly if they’re picky eaters and have the option to choose from a wide range of foods. I know my two would love the pizza, pasta, pancakes and ice-cream.
- It’s worth a visit just for the apple crumble
- …ditto the cocktails.
- It’s a great choice if you enjoy trying a bit of everything and not being limited to just one cuisine.
What I wasn’t so sure of
- I wouldn’t say it’s a place for a long romantic meal with your other half. It’s for families, groups of friends or a quick, good quality and satisfying meal before a night out in Manchester.
- It was a bit lary at times, though this isn’t necessarily bad. It depends what you want.
- The service wasn’t great. It was there and it was functional. When ordering drinks it took some time to get someone’s attention, but when we did they were every attentive.
Value for money
I think Red Hot World is good value for money, at £13.99 per head Sunday-Thursday and £14.99 at weekends. Children ten and under are half price and the celebration cake we ordered was £12.49.
For a three course meal, with limitless top ups (depending on how much you can eat) I would say this is very reasonable.
Would I return?
Definitely, as I want to take my children. Ice cream counter – beware!
I think we will return as a family one Saturday afternoon, and link it with a trip to a town centre attraction such as the Museum of Science and Industry.
I’d also return with a group of friends before a night out in Manchester. I’ve already got one friend begging to go!
So… how much could YOU eat?…
Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at Red Hot World Buffet free of charge as part of the Red Hot Tastemakers programme and in return, I wrote this review. All opinions expressed are my own. I’ll be going back!