Newest Review: ... Under 10 Years £4.95 Unlimited Soft Drink £1.95 Open from 11.30am till late! The Restaurant Itself: Very large, open and airy wit... more
I don't want the full showing!
Preview Buffet Bar (Bristol)
Member Name: tartlette
Preview Buffet Bar (Bristol)
Advantages: Variety of food
Disadvantages: Quality of food, atmosphere, price for what you get
Preview is located just off junction 17 of the M5 opposite the Cribbs Causeway shopping centre. It is part of the Venue complex which also features a cinema and other restaurants such as Frankie and Benny's and Bella Italia.
Upon arrival you have to wait to pay before you can even sit down. This did not bode well for me. I really don't like the idea of having to pay for food before I've even really seen what's on offer. However, as I said we were meeting people so I smiled through it and paid up. Our food was £9.95 each for the all you can eat buffet. It is cheaper at lunchtime I believe. We also went for the unlimited drink refills which were £2.25 each.
Once we'd paid we were allowed through the barrier (you know you're in a classy restaurant when there's a barrier....) and were given our glasses. We sat in a booth. There is a variety of tables and booths and there is certainly plenty of seating in the restaurant. The atmosphere was pretty awful. The lighting was bright and harsh. There were a few families in the place and lots of larger clientele filling their plates (no offence meant, I'm saying what I saw).
There was nothing on the table. You had to help yourself to cutlery and crockery. The plates were pretty tiny but I guess that's fair enough when it's all you can eat. Next to the cutlery place there was a drinks fountain where you could have Sprite, Coke or Fanta.
There was quite a wide selection of different types of food. I started with the salad bar. I avoided the lettuce because it looked tired and a little brown. The rest of the salad was fairly standard fare: tomatoes, beetroot and pasta salad. There were four dressings to choose from including thousand island and Caesar. On the salad bar you could also have prawn cocktail but there was no way I was going to be eating seafood from this place! The salad wasn't terrible, I ate it all.
I also tried the pizza which was edible but fairly dull. The Italian section also had two pastas and I wanted to try the carbonara but didn't have enough room to fit it in. I did try the Chinese section where I had chow mein, spring rolls and mixed vegetables. I put some soy sauce on this but it was very overpowering.
You could also have grilled food, including burgers. There was a British section where you could have fish and chips but the chips looked very soggy so I didn't have any. There was an Indian section which I avoided as I'm not a fan of anything spicy.
One big problem was that once you'd finished one plate you didn't want to have the same one to go and eat something else. My first one had salad dressing all over it and I didn't fancy that with my chow mein. The staff took a ridiculous amount of time to clear our table. Normally I would just have left my plate on another table but I was with people I didn't know and didn't want to seem naughty!
There was also a selection of desserts at the Preview buffet. Mr Tart was kept amused by the Mr Whippy style ice cream machine (as I'm sure most children would be....). Once in the bowl you could add chocolate sauce and sweets to the top of this. I went for chocolate ice cream from the freezer (cones were available if you wanted them) and you could also have Angel Delight (yuk!).
We finished our food around 8.30. We then started being hassled by the staff asking us if we wanted any more and if we had finished. They even started turning the lights off! I could understand if they said on the way in that they close at 9 and is that ok, but there was nothing like this. I felt as if I was being thrown out.
Well overall I was very unimpressed with this place. There are a couple of big problems. One is the price. I think that £9.95 is actually not very good value considering how many set price menu offers and vouchers there are available for much nicer restaurants. I know that in Preview you get a dessert as well but I would much rather go to Pizza Express and probably pay the same price for a freshly made pizza. The food at Preview was edible and some of it was even tasty in a fast food way but I really dislike fast food so it wasn't for me. The next problem for me was the atmosphere. Having a barrier and having to pay before going in was really off putting. I found the seating quite uncomfortable and the general atmosphere like I was in a cafeteria.
The staff weren't rude but the time it took to clear our plates and then hassling us to leave and starting to turn the lights off was unacceptable in my opinion. I guess I'm just not cut out for this place. To me it was like feeding time at the zoo, with gannets being the main attraction. I have used the word restaurant in the review because I didn't know what else to call it but I can't really give it that title when I think of some of the amazing restaurants I've eaten in. To my mind this place is not the bargain it makes out and there are much better value restaurants that serve freshly prepared food for around the same price where the atmosphere is much more welcoming.
Summary: Not recommended