A world of flavours at Cosmo, #Norwich [restaurant review]

What springs to mind when someone suggests going to an ‘eat all you want buffet’? If you’re like me (and I’m a bit of a food snob) you might shiver at the thought of a grimy cafeteria with hoards of tourists piling their plates high with cheap greasy food. At least that’s my nightmare memory of the buffet served at a budget motel I stayed in when visiting Las Vegas some 20 years ago.

So you can understand my hesitation when The Lively Crew invited me to a food writers evening at the new Cosmo Restaurant in Norwich. Thankfully the world of buffets has moved on a long way since the 1990s and Cosmo quickly dispelled all sense of trepidation. My first words, on entering the brightly lit restaurant, with its gleaming tiles, chrome and glass food stations and steel serving dishes, were: “Wow, this is smart.”

Cosmo food station Norwich - photo by Huw Sayer

The other thing I quickly noticed was that, despite being early on a Monday evening, the place was busy. Not packed but there was a definite buzz with cheerful families and groups of friends enjoying an amazing choice of food. By the time I left at 7:30 it was three-quarters full and there were 15 people in the lobby downstairs waiting to be seated.

Cosmo prawns on ice - photo by Huw Sayer

If popularity is any guide, Cosmo are definitely doing something (many things) right. As a result, they have expanded rapidly since launching in Eastbourne in 2003. The idea is simple to explain but is difficult to do well: You pay a flat fee for your meal (drinks are extra but reasonably priced) and then you choose whatever you want from somewhere between 60 and 80 freshly cooked main dishes.

Cosmo Mexican grill - photo by Huw Sayer

The food is inspired by cuisine from China, India, Japan, the Americas and Europe. You can return for more as often as you like – and you get a clean plate every time (which impressed me) so you don’t have to mix too many flavours. This is great place to take young people if you want to encourage them to be more adventurous in what they eat, without risking too much waste if they decide they don’t like something.

Cosmo roast beef - photo by Huw Sayer

It’s also ideal if you are going out with a large group of friends who all like different food and can never quite decide on where to eat. There is pretty much something for everyone, from simple roasts and fresh sea food and salads, to spicy curries and aromatic noodles. The food certainly seems as good as anything you’ll get at Pizza Express, Wagamamas, Giraffe, or Yo Sushi (to name just a few popular chains).

Salads at Cosmo - photo by Huw Sayer

Each chef specialises in their particular cuisine. You can even watch some of them (such as the Teppanyaki chef) doing live cooking demonstrations. All the food is cooked in small batches so it is always fresh – and the team works hard to keep all the counters and serving utensils spotless even when it gets busy.

Chinese food at Cosmo - photo by Huw Sayer

Over the course of the evening, I enjoyed sushi rolls, fresh prawns and seaweed complete with wasabi paste, soy sauce and thin slices of ginger – all fresh and delicious. I then had a small helping of Piri-Piri chicken and a selection of Mediterranean vegetables (grilled artichokes, peppers and aubergine with sun-blush tomatoes) on a bed of crisp, peppery rocket leaves. Finally I tucked into some spicy Hong Kong noodles and beef in black-bean sauce.

Cosmo corn - photo by Huw Sayer

Unfortunately I was driving so could only try a few sips of the house wine. But both the white and the red were definitely drinkable: the Pinot Grigio was crisp and refreshing and the Merlot was smooth and fruity. For those of you looking to round off your feast with something sweet, there’s a tantalising array of delicate desserts…

Cosmo puddings - photo by Huw Sayer

…and a spectacular chocolate fountainCosmo chocolate fountain - photo by Huw SayerOverall

Did I enjoy my meal? Yes (and, if I’d been paying, I would say it was good value for money).

Would I go back? Yes – although not for an intimate meal or for a light snack but certainly if I wanted a fun evening out and plenty of choice.

Any tips? Yes – book if you are going as a large group, particularly if you don’t want a long wait for a table at the weekend (including Friday night).

Thank you to Valerie and Mike from The Lively Crew for inviting me – and to Johnathan Wong (Cosmo’s Training and Auditing Officer) for being our host for the evening.

PS: All the pictures above are ones I took on the night as I went round (they weren’t staged and are not stock shots).

We’re blogging for charity

We are using our blogs to raise awareness of an excellent local charity called Nelson’s Journey. If you enjoyed this post, please help a grieving child by donating £1 (or more if you can spare it) to Nelson’s Journey today. Thank you.

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Thank you for reading

This is one in an occasional series of posts about social media and business communications. If you find them interesting or useful, please give them a star or five and share with others. I hope you will join the conversation by adding your views below or contacting me on twitter or Google+

Kind regards

Huw 

@HuwSayer / @Business_Write

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Which #Norfolk #market is your favourite – and why?

“The countryside is an enterprising place. According to the Prince’s Countryside Fund, rural businesses contribute £22 billion in domestic food and drink sales to the UK economy every year; while rural tourism generates another £14 billion.

Rural businesses also employ 5.5 million people and range in size from small enterprises to large manufacturing businesses. Measures to help them invest in new premises and machinery and create new jobs can only be good news for the UK economy as a whole, and rural businesses in particular.”

National Farmers Union

Chocolate Torts from Pye Baker

You probably already know that I am passionate about championing local food and drink. I’m particularly keen that we all do what we can to support the independent, specialist producers who are the lifeblood of our rural economy. That’s why I love going to local markets, browsing interesting stalls and sampling delicious delicacies.

We are particularly lucky in Norfolk to have a huge number of local markets, from small monthly affairs in village halls, to established weekend farmers markets and, of course, the Norwich Provisions Market. Although I am slowly working my way round the county, I haven’t had time to visit all these wonderful markets yet. So I would like you to help me by recommending your favourite #Norfolk #market.

As enjoyed by 'Aggers' @Aggerscricket

Now some of you may be stall-holders on a market – and it would be great to hear from you (I hope also to meet you at a Norfolk Food & Drink Network event). But please don’t simply recommend the market because you are there. Instead, declare your interest and then tell us about the other stalls. This is social media after all and it thrives on people sharing information and supporting others.

Thank you for your help – I look forward to reading your comments. Remember: please share the twitter handle, facebook page or website for the market if you know it – as well as the opening times. And the postcode would be handy too – so other people can find it easily

Kind regards

Huw

PS: You can tweet me your ideas too – just use ‘#Norfolk #Market‘ in the tweet to make it easy for others to find and share

We’re blogging for charity

We are using our blogs to raise awareness of an excellent local charity called Nelson’s Journey. If you enjoyed this post, please help a grieving child by donating £1 (or more if you can spare it) to Nelson’s Journey today. Thank you.

JustGiving - Please sponsor us

Thank you for reading

This is one in an occasional series of posts about social media and business communications. If you find them interesting or useful, please give them a star or five and share with others. I hope you will join the conversation by adding your views below or contacting me on twitter or Google+

Kind regards

Huw 

@HuwSayer / @Business_Write

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What’s cooking? Using @Storify to create a Food & Drink community #blog [quick review]

Curating content from 19 sources

As you probably know, I’m a bit passionate about using the power of social media to bring communities together. I particularly enjoy using blogs to share engaging conversations with like minded people. For instance, I’ve recently been experimenting with creating a Norfolk Food and Drink community blog using Storify.

Storify is not an automated news scraper (unlike Paperli, which I use to curate stories about #VisitNorfolk and #VisitNorwich). Instead, you use it to manually pull together relevant social media content to illustrate your story.

I love the fact that Storify feels intuitive. The search function is easy to use and links to 19 sources. Other than asking for basic access to your social media accounts, the system doesn’t need much personal information.
Norfolk Food & Drink Network

5 steps to building a story
(For more details see our blog on LinkedIn Pulse on this subject)

  1. Add headings and text between content sourced from other platforms.
  2. Format text and add links.
  3. Use the Google Chrome extension called ‘bookmarklet’ to save social media updates when you see them
  4. Share your published story across social media accounts.
  5. Tell people whose social media updates you have included.

My new Storify – #Norfolk Food & Drink News

At this point I was hoping to show you what my first Storify looks like. However, when I used the ’embed’ function I could only get it to display text (and even then I had to edit the code to get it display the text correctly). This is the result:

“What’s cooking? Feast your eyes on #Norfolk Food & Drink News – July 2015”

Apparently WordPress.com hosted blogs “no longer support embed codes like these unless they come from “whitelisted” sources.” I had hoped it would display like an embedded tweet – as follows:

Please tell me what you think and share these points with your social media network. Thank you 

We’re blogging for charity

We are using our blogs to raise awareness of an excellent local charity called Nelson’s Journey. If you enjoyed this post, please help a grieving child by donating £1 (or more if you can spare it) to Nelson’s Journey today. Thank you.

JustGiving - Please sponsor us

Thank you for reading

This is one in an occasional series of posts about social media and business communications. If you find them interesting or useful, please give them a star or five and share with others. I hope you will join the conversation by adding your views below or contacting me on twitter or Google+

Kind regards

Huw 

@HuwSayer / @Business_Write

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