“ Address: Unit 18 / Octagon Way / weston Favell / Northampton / NN3 8JL „
I have to admit I am one of those people who loves a nice Chinese meal and especially a buffet lunch. On my travels recently I have found a nice Chinese buffet restaurant situated in Northampton which I will be going back to.
== Location and Parking ==
The restaurant is located in Northampton and if people live in nearby towns such as Wellingborough, Kettering and Corby they will be able to get to this restaurant easily.
They have made sure they are situated in a great location just of the A45 and this allows them to be seen often but there best selling point is Weston Favell shopping centre. This shopping centre offers free parking and is literally across the road from this Mandarin Buffet restaurant.
Inside the Weston Favell shopping area is a nice Tesco and some other smaller stores such as Wilkinsons and WhSmith. So you can do some shopping and eat a nice meal afterwards which is a nice reward.
Parking is pretty good because there is some spaces outside the actual restaurant but these can be hard to park on because there is a limit and if there is other people arriving parking can be tough so you may need to park in the shopping centre and walk over so the parking is a bit of a problem if your disabled in my view.
== Food and Drinks ==
When you enter there is a lovely menu there which offers drinks and there is many to choose from but it is the food which is going to determine whether or not you want to visit this location. When you walk through and are seated you will see the food placed over a wide area.
The problem is you need to determine whether you go in the evening or afternoon as not only is there a price difference but there are more options in the evening then the afternoon which is reflected in the price.
The food is done in stages and I find this very good the first area offers you a wide range of salad items so lots of green items and peppers but also you could have a started prepared by yourself such as a prawn cocktail with the sauces there on offer as well.
The next area they have got is items you would see more a child want then an adult. Items such as chips, lemon chicken, onion rings, chicken satays and many more similar products are there to choose from.
The final sort of area is where they have the meals you can create so perhaps you want to have a chicken curry or maybe some beef in a nice sauce these are there. All these sorts of meals are covered which is a nice item to keep the warmth there but there is no real procedure to keep the other food items clean as these are not covered.
The amount of various rice dishes you can have is mad with vegetable rice and the usual boiled and friend on offer. These are very nice and the restaurant has given you ways to have starters, a main meal with a side order and finally the desserts.
The desserts are situated in a corner on their own and they have got plenty to choose from. You might like a huge gateau piece with a selection of ice cream and jellies or maybe some cheesecake and a chocolate fountain to get you in the mood.
Drinks are served at the table or the bar they have within the restaurant so options are there for you to use and to make sure you get the best out of the evening or afternoon. As mentioned above the food is going to be different in the evening such as a sushi bar being there to opt for food from as well.
== My Experience ==
The first time I entered this restaurant as an evening out with some work friends before Christmas and we were shocked by how busy it was and when we entered we found everything delightful. We saw the floor looking so clean and sometimes in a buffet restaurant you see food on the floor and marks from shoes but this was not the case.
As we were escorted to our seats a member of staff took orders for the drinks and actually told us how we collect food and it was very pleasant and well mannered. As you walk over to the food there are plates and cutlery everywhere but also the famous chopsticks if you're confident to use them.
I first saw the sushi bar with many options and opted to try this for a nice change and I actually ended up enjoying the food and found it very tasty to have. As I was walking around monitoring the food I saw soups in big containers and a nice area where a chef can cook you some food such as stir fry. You choose the meat and the sauces and it is cooked there and then.
I found that the food was very nicely laid out all the items had their own individual tongs to pick up the food but my biggest concern was labels to what food items were what. I found items I was unsure what they were such as mushrooms in batter which I had never had or seen before but the label was missing and they are placed up above the food which would be hard to see for someone who is not that tall.
As I was walking around and because the crowds were gathering it was difficult to get the food and look at everything but after a second visit to the food section I found myself smiling. There was chicken, beef, pork and even prawn dishes everywhere and it appealed to me because I do love chicken but you need variety and this is what this buffet restaurant offered to the customer.
The food was warm, it was tasty and the sauces were not rich in flavour which can overpower you. In the past I have had sweet and sour chicken and the sauce has been thick and literally makes you feel bloated and this is different here everything is cooked and cut into pieces which would appeal to people.
Finally I had my chance to taste and sample some of the fine desserts and they had around five varieties of ice cream along with many options such as a mousse, jelly, gateau's, cheesecake and the final and most wanted item the chocolate fountain.
I found everything so nicely laid out and it was spacious and to make everything feel so nice and calm you had a superb fish tank circling the food area which made you feel warm and cosy it is hard to explain. The atmosphere was vibrant; plenty of room with the seating and all the tables were fantastic.
When you finished and walked out you realised it was a nice evening and with everything so nicely done and looking so clean and tidy you want to go back time and again.
== Staff ==
One of the problems unfortunately was the lack of speed of staff and unfortunately this is in regards to every single one of them. When you sit down they are instantly there to assist you which is lovely but then they go missing.
You can order a drink such a coke and you go and collect some food and by the time you have finished your first plate of food they turn up and you are left wondering how it took so long for them to bring out a drink to you.
If you are someone who knows they want to have a few drinks it is best to order a few drinks at the start of the meal rather than sitting around waiting to order again and the staff fail in there speed in this situation.
Another issue would be when you are waiting to pay you find a member of staff to bring you the dreaded bill and usually this takes a few moments and they bring this to your table however when it comes to getting your money or card out all staff seem to disappear and this takes forever.
They are quick to remove dirty plates from the table and that is one good point to make a mention off but if you are someone who has had a drink and finished the staff are always coming up to your table asking do you require another drink and they never take no for an answer.
== Cleanliness ==
I found the restaurant great in terms of how clean everything was. On my afternoon visit recently due to the snow and wet feet they had two members of staff who were walking around the floor with mops to clean up the damp marks and make sure it was safe for people to walk on the floor.
They have staff as soon as someone leaves who will get out free cloths which look very clean and they have a nice bucket of fresh hot water which you see them preparing and cleaning chemical and they clean everything from the seating, table and even menus and they really do scrub everything well.
The toilets were stocked well and you felt happy to go in there and use those facilities because sometimes it is okay having nice food but the cleanliness needs to be top marks and for me they passed this with flying colours.
== Final Thoughts ==
My first thoughts were wrong about this restaurant the food was warm and most were covered up well. The food was always well stocked and very tasty with sauces to complement the food choices as well.
I would perhaps like to see more options with the vegetables dishes because there were a huge lack of vegetable dishes and if you're someone who is that way inclined then this might not suit you.
I think the way they have options for beef and pork dishes excellent and the drinks although were expensive in theory they were cold and did arrive eventually.
I think the staff need to work on quickness better and the atmosphere makes the place feel very special and it was very busy on both my trips there. Overall a nice evening out with plenty of options of food and a rating I would give is 8 out of 10 it is just a shame about the staff.
== Other Information ==
Opening Hours - Lunch 12-3 (Mon - Sat)
Evening 5-10pm (Mon - Sat)
Prices - Lunch £7.90 (Mon-Thurs)
£8.90 (Fri - Sat)
Dinner - £12.90 (Mon - Thurs)
£13.90 (Fri - Sat)
Telephone Number - 01604 408388
Website - www.mandarinbuffet.uk.com