/ Food & Drink

Is bigger better when it comes to dining out?

All-you-can-eat buffet

You’re planning a meal out; do you opt for a little Italian, a curry house, or a bustling Mexican? Thanks to a new ‘super restaurant’ you may not have to choose – but do you want to dine with 1,000 others?

A new ‘super-restaurant’ called Za Za Bazaar has opened in Bristol. It seats 1,000 diners and serves all manner of cuisines; and seven more are planned across the UK.

If American style all-you-can-eat buffets are your thing, you’re in luck – this ‘restaurant’ serves up cuisine from all continents laid out on a buffet, with some orders, such as pizza and fajitas, cooked fresh.

Does big have more buzz?

The owners say that the busy 700-capacity upstairs is designed to have the look and feel of a ‘buzzing oriental night market’ – I guess that means the 300-seater downstairs is for those looking for something a little more intimate, then?

Excuse my sarcasm, but I have to question whether an eatery of this size can actually be called a restaurant – it sounds more like a food hall with a selection of different stands to visit.

But, while this kind of dining isn’t to my, ahem, taste, there’s far more to my mockery than simply the lack of atmosphere. Diners will pay between £6.99 and £15.99, depending on the day and time, to eat as much as they can or care to. While some may view this as a great bargain, I can only envisage hundreds of people scoffing as much as possible in order to feel like they’ve had their money’s worth.

And the only way to make this kind of venture profitable is to keep costs low and buy the cheapest, lowest-quality ingredients – much of which will no doubt be wasted. After all, there’s no telling how many customers will come through the doors or what they’ll choose to eat.

Don’t drive out smaller businesses

Since we’re talking in scale here, my biggest concern has to be the effect this will have on smaller, local businesses. Just as the likes of Westfield have muscled in on smaller retailers, these super restaurants can’t fail to overpower nearby eateries.

Navina Bartlett is a member of the StrEAT Food Collective, a group of vendors who cook and sell on a street. She fears that this kind of restaurant could impact business in St Nicholas Market – a market packed with food stalls and cafes just five minutes’ walk away:

‘Lots of independent traders around here may struggle to compete with something like this. The scale of it is just frightening,’ said told the Guardian.

I agree. This kind of scale just breeds waste, greed and commercialism and the more we get used to shopping and eating on this scale, the more brainwashed we become, making it harder and scarier to support smaller independents.

Is bigger better? Not to me, no.

Would you eat in a 'super restaurant'?

No way (67%, 90 Votes)

Occasionally, depending on my mood (21%, 28 Votes)

Yes, bring it on! (13%, 17 Votes)

Total Voters: 136

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It does not appeal to me either, but do remember that the term ‘restaurant’ has already been hijacked by McDonalds and other fast food outlets, and pubs use the term to describe the rooms they serve food in.

I am not in favour of trying to control what people eat (other than by education) but if ‘all you can eat’ establishments do encourage gluttony then perhaps we have more than fat laden burgers with large fries to worry about.

Though I don’t frequent McDonalds etc., I have never been very comfortable about the uncertainties of more upmarket restaurants, and fear of receiving an unexpectedly large bill does not improve the experience.

I am glad that there are a few pubs around that do good food at sensible prices, and without the uncertainty of using restaurants.

Useful for largish groups especially work’s ones where no-one can agree on where to eat and dividing the bill up is a nightmare !
I suspect that the drinks contribute a very large proportion of the profits.

They have a ‘food court’ like this at an oriental shopping centre in north west
London for in excess of twenty years, food is cheapish and quality not being
its strong selling point; and yes, ingredients used are of a low quality.

Nah… shan’t be patronising such an outfit when it comes to London….
all-you-can-eat buffets are already found in eateries in London
Chinatown (and elsewhere) which are frequented by and large by

Eat as much as you like for a fixed price induces gluttony!

British men and women are already the fattest in Europe.

Loskie says:
1 December 2011

It would remind me of school dinners or those awful foreign resorts where buffets are lined up with all and sundry fingering the food only after they have coughed over it.

Sophie Gilbert says:
8 December 2011

I might be seen dead in one of those “restaurants”, but that’s about it.

Undue bright colouring…. that can only be due to colouring stuff
being added, also particularly at Bangla/ Indian eateries….. and I
remember FSA condemning such additives that included so-called
Sedan stuff.

But if only turmeric, that’s OK but somehow I think it’s not

How i remember a huge Hotel restaurant in Salou Spain it was self service and it was dreadful.I would never choose any large restaurant after that experience again.