March of the Buffets

September 13, 2011

First the good news. The Litten Tree – that  tatty, mothballed pub that has for some time been a wart on the airbrushed good looks of High Cross – is slated for redevelopment into a restaurant. Now the “meh” news – the planned occupant is Red Hot World Buffet.  The Leicester branch will join Nottingham, Northampton, Manchester, Leeds, Milton Keynes and Liverpool in offering you the chance to have Indian, Italian, Mexican, Chinese etc all in the same place, for an inclusive price, alongside several hundered others.  I’ve been to the Nottingham one and when I say it was better than Leicester’s Zucchero, I’m not really paying that much of a compliment.

It’s a fairly brash, go-ahead business so no doubt you’ll get to hear when it’s nearer to launch. It joins the soon-to-open More on London Road as the latest mega-buffet and while I can see why they have an attraction, it will be a great pity if they take business away from smaller restaurants that are trying to do something more interesting.  I can’t help but feel that a fundamental part of their appeal is they take away risk – the risk that you might not like something, that you might somehow embarass yourself by misprouncing something, ordering the wrong thing. Go to a big shed where everyone just piles in and you can stay safe and anonymous – like the food. I think I actually quite like risk.

Slightly different in scale will be Lupa di Roma on Market Street, in the premises of a former Cornish pasty shop. Don’t know much about it other than it bills itself as a tavola calda, so is likely to be simple food – pizza, pasta, pannini  –  in a cafeteria/buffet format.

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