As the previous review of the Jimmy Spices restaurant was based on Ben’s experience, I thought it was time to visit the buffet restaurant myself to form my own opinion.
Since Jimmy Spice’s opened there has been a true split between those diners that love the experience and those that hated it so with that in mind I have to admit I was expecting the worst.
I visited at lunchtime, so some of the food stations (grill, mexican, etc) weren’t available. Understandably, they only have these more time consuming stations available during the dinner service as lunchtimes are usually time sensitive for those on a lunch break.
My first impressions were very good. Previously you were asked to pay for your meal on entering the restaurant, but it now appears that this has changed, at least it had when I visited. The building’s interior has changed slightly since it was occupied by the Toho restaurant and now has a fresh feel, high ceilings and lively decor. The size of the restaurant takes a bit of getting used to with a massive dining area – this is definitely not a place for a cosy romantic meal for two. Tables were spaced well with room to negotiate around as you walked to and from the food stations but thankfully it was only about 40% full when I went, as I can imagine it would get very busy in peak times.
On entering the restaurant we were shown to a table and the waiter took our order for drinks and left us to go and help ourselves to food. For anyone that’s been to an all-inclusive resort on holiday, the Jimmy Spices format will be pretty familiar – a long buffet counter with various heated closhes and trays filled with freshly cooked food from a number of cuisines.
Clutching an annoyingly small plate I took my first steps…
Jimmy Spice’s advertises itself on cuisines from around the world and makes attempts at the main popular bases: Indian, Chinese/Thai, Italian and Mexican. I think it’s safe to say that Indian is the most accomplished of those with a starter celebration of all that is beige: pakoras (chicken, fish and cauliflower) plus the obligatory onion bhaji and not forgetting the tandoori chicken and seehk kebabs. Beyond the Indian selection there are spring rolls and other starters to choose from.
Indian mains consisted of a Lamb Rogan Josh, Butter Chicken, grilled fish and a few vegetable dishes and were all well stocked but disappointed in the taste department. Sadly there wasn’t much in the way of flavour beyond the starters but the surprise for me was the choice of naan breads made to order (cooked in a tandoor) which were light and tasty.
Now I’m a chilli head and love spices so the butter chicken was already on a losing battle but it really was beyond bland. I would have rather just eaten grilled chicken and held off on the butter sauce. The Rogan Josh was the spicier option but again, pretty much tasteless and slightly chewy meat. This is the Achilles heel of buffet restaurants, they can’t cater for all tastes no matter how hard they try.
If you venture further along the counter you find yourself in the Far East and then over to salads and into Italian cuisine. The pastas looked a bit insipid in bowls covered with cling film and the pizza was pretty bland, doughy and nothing special. I didn’t give much time to the other cuisines as it wasn’t my aim to stuff my face, but I suppose the option is there should you want it. If the Mexican station was open I would have given that a try.
A separate desert-island serves up ice cream and just about every sweet or chocolate a child could want. The staff behind the counter then mix the ice cream with the topping and mush it all up together – not something I was particularly enthused about as I’d much rather play with my food myself. Also on offer was an assortment of petit fours-style cakes, which looked ok but I didn’t feel like trying them on this occasion.
Buffets aren’t for everyone, so if you prefer to order off a menu and have your food brought to your table you’re probably best avoiding Jimmy Spices. For those that do like buffets, give it a try and you should get on well.
On a service point of view, I couldn’t fault it. Certainly there wasn’t much “service” going on, other than drinks being carried from the bar and the occasional cook making a stirfry or naan bread, but I didn’t experience or witness the problems other commenters had.
For many eating here I think the novelty will be the all you can eat buffet, rather than the menu variety or quality of the dishes. By diluting their menu with so many different cuisines, I felt that the food on offer was almost a bit too generic. If you liked Jimmy Spices enough to return again, I don’t think you would find much to excite you the second time around and after a while it would be pretty boring. I would compare it to that second week of a 14-night holiday when the same buffet as last week is repeated again.
For £6.99 (lunch time) the food was cheap provided you took advantage of the all you can eat offer. Other restaurants also run buffet promotions for less, but lack the multi-cuisine of Jimmy Spices. For me the food flavour wasn’t there, everything was well cooked but it lacked any kind of wow factor.
For me to want to return I’d expect two things – a regularly changing menu (making your own stir fry or fajita doesn’t count) and an improvement on the core dishes they have. Get some flavour in there – the restaurant is called Jimmy Spices yet the food I had was pretty bland!
Overall, pretty average.