Restaurant review: CosmoBy Jon Nurse
August 03, 2012
I’d like to think I’m a pretty cosmopolitan chap.
My signature brown bag is faded from its thousands of miles of travel, with a Sri Lankan stain on the strap and remnants of an Australian beach in its pouch.
It must be my gap year garb that got me the nod to try out Cosmo, a new restaurant lighting up Friar Street with a range of delicacies and delights from across the globe.
Then again, it could be those four magic words – all you can eat. I could do with gaining a few pounds, sure.
I took the hint and armed with hungry weather forecaster friend Wardy I marched into town ready for a feast.
I’ve sampled my fair share of all you can eat venues in my time, mostly in the student streets of Sheffield.
And bearing that last sentence in mind, let me tell you – Cosmo Reading is simply in a class of its own.
There’s style, substance and hoi sin sauce – what more could you ask for?
Considering style first, the large unit in the heart of the town centre offers a sleek setting.
The interior design feels modern and à la mode without trying to be too flash.
The rows of buffet counters go on and on, leaving you wondering if you will ever reach the end.
Which brings us to substance. It’s nice having enough food on display to feed a small army, but is it any good?
It is. Such quantity can come at a cost for quality but it doesn’t at Cosmo. I went for the Chinese range and was cheered by its full flavours.
There are more than 150 dishes to choose from on a comprehensive tour of Asian cuisine, taking you across China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Mongolia, Singapore, Vietnam and India as well as having Italian and English selections.
Several dishes have ‘Chef’s Special’ labels to help any indecisive customers, such as me, and they all earned the marked status.
Having cleared my Far East feast I went up for more and wondered whether you could sensibly follow a Chinese with a curry.
For Wardy the answer was a resounding ‘Yes’ and he soon piled his new plate. I was not about to be outeaten by a weather forecaster and took my second helping, trying some more of the Chinese range.
Duck pancakes, forever my favourite, can be a bit too pricey on a takeaway menu so I was pleased to discover a counter featuring a deep tray of crispy aromatic duck, piles of pancakes and stacks of that beautiful brown sauce.
Just think of recent shots of scientists punching the air at the finding of a new subatomic particle, only replace the Higgs Boson with hoi sin sauce. Feigning a finish to his meal Wardy said he thought he was almost done, and then he stood up for a third time for “a couple of bits”.
To my horror, he returned with a full third plate. How was he doing this? I couldn’t lose!
In desperation I went for a third plate and had the indignity of watching him clear his as I ground to a halt halfway through mine.
Outeaten by Wardy the weatherman. Oh, the shame. Today’s pride forecast is gloomy with a chance of despair. I still managed a trip to the dessert counters, after all it is a well-known fact that no matter how full you are there is always space in your dessert stomach.
Presented before us was another boastful selection, with an array of fresh fruit, creamy gateaux, cakes, mousses, trifles and a chocolate fountain – which we eventually worked out how to use.
Wardy savoured a victory cake. We had a good experience at Cosmo, a worthy new entrant to Reading’s thriving restaurant scene – and good for hungry bellies.
*Unlimited food and soft drinks at lunchtime is £7.99 from Monday to Friday and £8.99 on Saturdays, with dinner £13.99 from Monday to Thursday, £14.99 on Fridays and Saturdays, and £13.99 on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
- Website: cosmo-restaurants.co.uk
35-38 Friar Street
Reading RG1 1DX
0118 959 5588