Cosmo Chinese Restaurant
Not so long ago I took my wife to Cosmo for lunch. It is not the first time that we had been there having been introduced to the place by friends during the summer of 2007. What will appeal to many might be the eat as much as you like buffet but there is more to Cosmo than simply filling your face.
When we arrived (after filing needless paperwork with the council for an unnecessarily review so that pointless paperwork can be done resulting in no change) it was moderately busy but did not, in anyway, feel crowded. Even after the school party arrived there was never a moment when there was a feeling of the restaurant being anywhere near "over full" as can happen. This is as much a compliment to the layout planing and atmosphere as to the staff.
I am a fussy eater and a creature of habit. If an eater offends me I shall never return but impress me and I will make an effort to come back. This visit to Cosmo I made a specific effort to pay close attention to the dishes, the service and those parts that are often overlooked.
Cosmo is located next to what was once the Dreamland Cinema along Margate seafront. It's a chilly walk this time of year past the remnant of what might have been. However, it is well worth it once you get inside.
This is my review of that visit.
We arrived shivering having been slowly frozen at the council offices before the winter seafront walk down to the restaurant. We were served by the same waitress as has served some large outings in the past. She was thrown by the fact that there was only ten of us. Remembering the client is a nice touch that goes beyond simple competence and enters a whole new realm of skilled efficiency.
We requested a table for two for the buffet. The buffet costs just under £5.00 per person during week days. This makes for an affordable outing even for those persons in Thanet for whom spare and money are rarely used in the same context.
Cosmo, Margate is not easily disability accessible as it is located at the top of a flight of well maintained stairs. The restaurant is a beautiful as the stairwell and while this is not some billion pound ball room it is well above average for such places. Doubly for those in Thanet.
The sea facing wall is a single continuous window along the entire open plan hall offering a fine view of the sea, the giant council sponsored sand castle and what we will call "the paddling pool" for politeness sake. The waitress that served us did so with a smile that said we had her full attention for a long as we needed it. She seemed to be singlehandedly taking care of the entire restaurant without ever seeming rushed or hurried while being prompt in everything.
If all staff in all businesses were that good Thanet would be the capital of the world. The table next to us was vacated at one point yet by the time I looked in that direction again the table was cleared, cleaned and ready as if it had never been used. Truly the staff there are very good at their job.
Uncharacteristically I was unsure what I wanted to drink. Normally I would order a beer but I was so cold that I was wondering if I wanted a hot drink (or a shot of whiskey perhaps). Without missing a step our waitress suggested my usual beer which served to further impress me.
I ordered the beer which arrived promptly fresh and correctly fizzy. I'm a minor drinks snob and hate beer that has gone a bit flat or tinny as modern lagers can. However, I was to cold to drink it and was easily able to catch the waitress' attention and ordered an English Tea.
If you have ever tried to order a cup of tea in an oriental eatery you will know that this is not something you do twice. However Cosmo seemed to have grasped the English tea and although it was presented with Eastern style and grace it was a true English Cuppa. Once I had warmed up a little a treat of flavours was ready to begin.
The buffet is laid out spaciously on two large carts one carries what can be considered the children's menu (chips, prawn crackers, basic sauces, etc) and the other the more traditional menu. In addition to this there is a large section reserved for the deserts which is presented most pleasingly so that you start to crave the food offered before you are even aware that you have seen it.
A regular of the buffet for which a large number of special bowls are provided. The soup is Chicken and Sweetcorn and is highly popular so you take your chances as to if a Bowl is available the first time you visit the buffet. I recommend it. Especially if you are still a little chilly from our fine coastal winter weather.
A typical and quite enjoyable Chinese favourite is the crispy fried meat, thin pancake and sliced salad. Traditionally the meat is crispy duck but out of season that is going to cost you. What you are likely to find at Cosmo is Crispy Pork (far better than the other alternative sometimes offered by takeaways somewhat-crispy-if-you-believe turkey). Again it is hard to flaw the food although at this visit the pancakes has started to stick together (which is something they like to do). However, this did not spoil my enjoyment and I helped myself to a plate of this dish.
Also refreshing was the complete lack of the traditional "Thanet Greasy Cooking Standard" which requires that all food have no less than an inch of oil covering it. All food tasted fresh, was crisp (when it should have been) and in all cases cooked well.
Normally I like to try a little of everything. There is a massive selection and unless one can eat for England there comes the point where you have to make a mental note to come back next time and try the rest. However I changed my habits for a dish I had alway skipped before - Thai Style Pork.
It is just a little spicy with crisp and crunch vegetables. I expected it to be a bit fatty as it was pork but this was not the case. It was so good that I had myself an entire plate of Egg fried rice and Thai Style Pork and had to skip dessert. When you visit be sure to try some. It is definitely a firm favourite of mine now.
The only disappointment in the past has tended to be the dessert so I was not too disappointed to not be able to be tempted by the fruit, cake and ice-creme. It tends to be that the deserts are often still a little too frozen and the ice creme is so under used that it can sometimes have freezer burn. A true negative against an otherwise fantastic eatery.
If you are thinking that this puts you off - don't. The buffet alone more than compensates and so for many dessert is an after thought that allows you to imagine but not eat due to having encountered fantastic dishes like the Thai Style Pork. Arrive hungry.
All that remains is for me to tell you about the other minor details. The toilets in most cafes and restaurants are often quite neglected. In some locations the "loo" is in a damp broom closet up a moldy flight of stairs with a door that doesn't close. Not so this establishment.
Admittedly the room was a little nippy but it was decorated with the same care as the rest of the restaurant. The only thing that let it down were the taps. The water temperature is set to run from cold to horribly cold leaving you to wave your hands under the hand dryer in the hope that feeling will return to your digits. That minor experence aside I was impressed. For Thanet just remembering to have taps at all is a good thing but to have them, clean and working is a big deal.
You can visit Cosmo have a meal, a beer and still have money for the bus home for £10. So if you are thinking of taking a girl, wife or mate out and the budget is quite depleted you would be hard pressed to do better than Cosmo. Actually you would be hard pressed to better for a lot more. They are, without doubt, the providers of the finest Chinese food in Thanet.
Sufficed to say I am impressed on every visit.