Belfast’s best buffet? Our review of the city’s Cosmo restaurant

Eat your way around the world without breaking the bank at Cosmo in Belfast’s Victoria Square.

Belfast’s best buffet? Our review of the city’s Cosmo restaurant.

We visited Cosmo, an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant in Belfast’s Victoria Square that has been a fixture of the city’s restaurant scene for over a decade, outlasting many of its contemporary neighbours.

Where other Victoria Square tenants have failed, Cosmo has flourished. Wondering what its secret was, we decided to visit Cosmo for lunch, and we were not disappointed.

An exterior shot of the restaurant (left) and a shot of its sleek lighting (right).
Credits: Flickr/ William Murphy; Facebook/ Cosmo Restaurants (Belfast)

The first thing that strikes you about Cosmo before you even reach the restaurant is its longevity.

Cosmo first opened its doors in Belfast’s Victoria Square shopping centre in 2012 and has remained a mainstay of the city’s restaurant scene ever since. Meanwhile, many of its neighbours, both within Victoria Square and in the city at large, have closed.

Cosmo’s popularity, then, is indisputable. Seeing this popularity with your own eyes is something else, though.

During the week, Cosmo opens for service at 1:30 pm. We showed up around five minutes after its doors unlocked to find a downstairs waiting area with a queue of hungry customers already forming.

The friendly maître d’ ensured the queue moved quickly and efficiently, so no one was waiting around too long. Good thing, too, as the Ireland Before You Die team arrived hungry.

The maître d’ directed us upstairs, where we were met by a host who brought us to our table. Once seated, he kindly explained the buffet setup to the uninitiated among us and took a drinks order.

On our way to our table, we were struck by the size of the dining room, which sprawled out much further than expected upon entry and really reinforced just how busy the restaurant was. Though some tables remained empty, these were certainly few.

The food – a worldwide buffet

A plate with pizza slices, pasta, and garlic bread (left) and a plate filled with European-style Chinese food, including char sui pork, noodles, prawn curry, and chips. This is just some of the food on offer at Cosmo.

As mentioned, Cosmo is a buffet, and diners are left to explore the range of foods themselves. And what a range it is.

Next to our table, we found mostly European-style Chinese food – the kind you might expect to find in a Chinese takeaway. But a wander around the vast self-service area led to an array of global cuisines.

Principal among these were Indian curries, Italian pasta and pizza, and sushi and teppanyaki from Japan. It goes without saying we made full use of Cosmo’s all-you-can-eat offer by tasting our way around the world in one room.

Perhaps overwhelmed by the amount of food on offer, one question – one doubt – persisted: was Cosmo a jack of all trades but master of none?

We’re glad to report that this was not the case. Despite our misgivings, the quality of the food was very decent overall. A nicely cooked char siu pork was a particular highlight: nicely cooked, tender inside with slightly firmer dark red edges.

One negative aspect of the buffet-style service at Cosmo, however, was the temperature of the food. Though this complaint certainly does not extend to the whole menu, some dishes were noticeably cooler than others.

We should stress, though, that none of the dishes at Cosmo were cold to the point of concern. Indeed, staff performed regular temperature checks with probe thermometers on each of the hot food trays at the buffet throughout the duration of our meal.

Service – attentive staff

Anonymous hands load sushi onto a tray (left) and anonymous hands load a plate with macaroni and cheese (right).
Credit: Facebook/ Cosmo Restaurants (Belfast)

As an all-you-can-eat buffet, Cosmo operates, for the most part, on a self-service basis. However, while staff may not have been waiting at our table, they were very attentive from the beginning to the end of our visit.

The aforementioned maître d’ and host made us feel very welcome and comfortable, while other staff constantly patrolled the dining room, clearing empty plates and ensuring everything met our expectations.

Undeniable value for money – the cherry on the cake

A plate with a slice of cake and cream (left) and the desert fridge at Cosmo (right).

Though the price fluctuates depending on the day of your visit, Cosmo’s value for money is undeniable. From Monday to Thursday, diners pay £19.99; on Fridays, £20.99; and on Saturdays and Sundays, £21.99.

Included in this price is all-you-can-eat access to the range of worldwide foods that Cosmo has to offer.

Moreover, soft drinks with unlimited refills cost about £3. This price applies to all the usual suspects, as well as a few lesser-seen classics like Irn Bru. If you fancy something a bit harder, a five-beer bucket will set you back £17.95, and a three-serve cocktail jug £15.95.

Good food at a great price – the lasting impressions of a well-fed team

Two diners toasting with cocktails (left) and a row of buffet trays awaiting diners (right).
Credits: Facebook/ Cosmo Restaurants (Belfast)

Overall, the Ireland Before You Die team had a great experience at Cosmo. While the food individually was pretty standard fare, when considered as a whole, it opens up a world of dining options to the Belfast public.

Cosmo might not offer haute cuisine, but that’s not the point. With its array of foods and its value for money, it makes global foods readily available to a wide range of people who might never taste them otherwise. And that can only be a good thing.

Address: Level 2, 1 Victoria Square, Belfast BT1 4QG

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