Three Top-Value, Top-Tasting, All-You-Can-Eat Buffets in London
One needn’t sacrifice the pallet to satisfy the pocket
The all-you-can-eat buffet; its very name is a dare, one tempting a hungry diner to quash their appetite with quantity over quality, and where they needn’t satisfy with high standards but merely bounty. One wouldn’t be mistaken when considering the very nature of an all-you-can-eat buffet to be a goading one: a visitor is challenged to indulge beyond reason, to give into gluttony rather than a discerning pallet. All-you-can-eat buffets are often hot beds for an unrewarding overload. A diner is typically seen regretfully leaving the building holding their stomach, after being inundated with encumbering stodge. Alternatively, one may be greeted by an insipid salad bar with lettuce that somehow manages to be both stale and lank. However, the culinary tides have changed and it is possible to find high quality dining amongst these paradoxical smorgasbords of thoughtless decadence. One needn’t sacrifice wholesomeness in the hunt for variety. Truly, there are all-you-can-eat buffets that provide value for money dining and balanced, delicious food. For the purpose of this article, I will focus three of the most healthy and nutritious buffets that are available in London. Although abundance is always optional, I assure you that the price tag needn’t too approach a place of excess. These buffets will have you leaving with a sensation of satisfaction and savvy spending rather than lamenting a bloated abdomen and blown budget.
A Convincing Champion for Vegetarianism
‘Indian Veg’ is certainly a no bells-and-whistles sort of place, and with a name that succinctly describes the food it provides, it’s evidently an establishment with simple, good cuisine at its core. In fairness, the establishment’s full name is the ‘Indian Vegetarian Bhelpoori House’, yet both the regulars and, I’m certain the staff, opt for its shorter moniker. However, what its name doesn’t say is how dually delicious and cheap its Vegetarian food is. At £4.50 one is treated to an unlimited supply of gratifying Indian curries and side dishes. It is difficult to specify a particular option both because the menu is ever changing and because that although the hot plates were unnamed, each were sublime. During my visit, I particularly enjoyed the fragrant and mellow Lentil Tarka Dahl and the creamy Potato Korma. A guiltier treat was the deep fried Chapattis, which were buttery and moreish. On the whole, the food at Indian Veg was punchy, excellently flavoured and provided an opportunity to eat healthy vegetarian wholefood in a delectable manner.
Indian Veg is also its own propaganda machine and adorns its walls with quotes and news stories reporting the benefits of vegetarianism. There aren’t many establishments that have extracts from Shakespeare, Wilde and Churchill constituting its décor whilst being so decidedly unpretentious. It goes without saying that if all vegetarian food was as enriching and tasty as ‘Indian Veg’ provides, I’m sure that for most people, omitting meat wouldn’t require a second thought.
Indian Veg is a hidden gem in the heart of London’s Chapel Market and it’s with a heavy heart myself that I recommend it so, simply because, the restaurant is one that shouldn’t feel mainstream. It is a treasure that makes its diners feel clued in on the best places to eat and that only the true locals would know about.
Grilled Meats and World Cup Dreams at Rodizio Preto
The first entry on my list is a Brazilian Churrascaria, which roughly translates as a ‘Grill House’ and is called ‘Rodizio Preto’, or colloquially, as ‘Preto’. Preto in fact is a chain restaurant and has many branches across the Centre-West and South-West of London, ranging from Victoria to Wimbledon. Despite being a chain restaurant, Preto does not give the impression of delivering a standardised service across its establishments. Moreover, each venue comes across as having an individualised attention to the quality of its services and has a vibrant atmosphere, playing lively Brazilian music as you dine.
Strangely, Brazil isn’t often given as high an accolade as other areas of the World when it comes its cuisine. As Brazil is such a cultural melting pot, it is no surprise that it’s food synthesizes elements from around the globe and has an excellent sourcing pool when it comes to delicious and wholesome food. Brazilian food has many African, European and American Indian influences and although Brazilian cuisine largely varies by region, it is safe to say that it is ubiquitously mouth-watering, with sweet, savoury and spicy flavours used in conjunction with fresh meat, vegetables and pulses. As Brazil is hosting the 2016 World Cup, Preto would make for an ideal cultural access point for where many a Londoner will be in spirit, when not in actuality.
Where Preto really shines as a beacon of affordable opulence is in the Weekday buffet. This is simply nothing more than an absolute bargain and is available between 12pm-3pm, from Monday- Friday at Preto’s Brighton, Wimbledon, Putney, Queensway and Croydon Branches. At a very modest £4.95, one would be hard pressed to find a High Street Chain selling coffee and a croissant for less, let alone a fully balanced and appetite-busting meal. For this price, one can help themselves to a selection to the gourmet Salad and Hot Bars. Food to expect includes Feijao, a rich bean stew, which is best served with the seasoned rice, an option of which is cooked with succulent pork pieces. Similarly, one may help themself to the Coxinha, which are nourishing and delectable chicken croquettes.
The cold salad options are too delicious and are nourishing in equal measure. This certainly is the all-you-can-eat buffet your body will thank you for. Examples include the Salade de Abobora, a pumpkin salad, or the fresh and zesty artichoke hearts. Furthermore, there is a selection of delectable sauces, including the Brazilian standard of chilli sauce, hot and sweet this is a sure-fire way to add authenticity to the Brazilian dining experience.
It must be said however, that this deal doesn’t include the Preto’s titular barbeque; to include this would cost an extra £5, when ordering the ‘Mini Rodizio’ at £9.95. The presentation of such barbequed meat is a charming and novel in itself. Once seated, a diner is presented with a disc that indicates to the Passador , the carver of the rotisserie meat, to continue serving until you flip it over. The Passador will present a host of moreish grilled meats including the Alcatra, the top sirloin, to the Linguica Apimentada, the spicy sausage.
Sushi Café London
Similar to Indian Veg, ‘Sushi Café London’ is self-explanatory; it is a Japanese restaurant serving fresh and vibrant Sushi. At £14.99, the all-you-can-eat Buffet is the most expensive on the list but given that good-quality Japanese food is often much more so with a much more limited selection, I still consider Sushi Café London to be a great bargain, particularly as the option is half price for anyone under the age of 12. What’s more is that one may be paying an approximation of the price on bland imitation Sushi often available in many a supermarket and café, however, the Sushi one would expect to have here is nothing but expertly made from the finest ingredients. The taste of Sushi is often muddied by what people expect it tastes like when they are used to the inferior varieties masquerading as the authentic thing. The sushi here is made with sweet, sticky rice and fresh fish that is savoury as it is velvety. The buffet here includes an impressive array of over 50 dishes, including Japanese classics such as Chicken Teriyaki, Salmon Nigiri. Quality Japanese food is hard to come by, let alone the delicate Sashimi found here. I recommend Sushi Café London to not only lovers of Japanese food but those who always wanted to broaden their horizons to the Eastern shore, the variety and standard of food here makes Japanese cuisine approachable and rewarding.
It must be said however, that the restaurant doesn’t allow for more than parties of 2 at a time to dine with the all-you-can-eat buffet and doesn’t allow it to be shared with someone using the a la carte menu. This being said, Sushi Café London is perfect as a rendezvous point to catch up with an old friend or to impress a date with your insider knowledge of the best Japanese eateries.
The three restaurants I have recommended appeal to a singular type of diner – one looking for someplace delicious to eat in London. That being said, the entries are ideal for anyone who is health-conscious and price-conscious, a student or a bargain hunter. It is true that there is no such thing as a free lunch, however these entries are the closest thing to a memorable lunch that respectively costs near-to-nothing for London.