I’ll start this post off by letting you into a little secret, I am not a big eater, in fact it’s rare that I actually finish a meal. As a self proclaimed ‘foodie’ I fear that perhaps I will be exposed as some sort of foodie fraud, the blogger who struggles to clean her plate and will then be suitable shamed on the internet. I love food, I just can’t seem to eat it in vast quantities. Therefore imagine my anxiety when asked to review a buffet restaurant like FeD Cardiff, ‘I will have to hide food in my handbag so they don’t realise how useless at eating I am’, was my immediate reaction.
FeD describes itself as a ‘Food Exploration Destination’, it’s a large buffet style restaurant in Cardiff that features hundreds of dishes from nine different cuisines, if you are into food and lots of it, this place is frankly a palace of gastronomy. FeD have a variety of live cookery stations, a grill and traditional buffet style of ‘help yourself’ offerings of Chinese, Italian, Indian, Japanese, Tex-Mex, and a huge array of desserts. The mind boggles at how many possible food combinations you could make. I bet somewhere there’s a nerd with a calculator and time on their hands that could tell you.
On this particular visit I was lucky enough to be invited to a special bloggers night to preview their new concept – the ‘Chef Special’. Intrigued, I brought along husband Luke who frustratingly has even less of an appetite than I do, at least it was another set of pockets in which to conceal food in.
We were welcomed and seated with fellow bloggers, as the FeD team explained the Chef Special concept to us. To enhance their buffet experience dinner guests at FeD will be offered a choice of 5 dishes from a range of cuisines, specially selected by the head chef. When you select which of the five dishes you want it will be cooked to order and brought to your table, leaving you free to peruse the buffet at your leisure. This certainly sounded like a concept I could get on board with, gone was the pressure to frantically overload on an array of dishes to appear more of a ‘professional eater’, instead I could lightly graze before being presented with a dish, cooked from fresh, included in the price. I promptly celebrated with a cocktail.
We were presented with a choice of Beef Steaks, Baby Aubergine Curry, Chicken Valdostana, Poŕk Shogayaki and Crispy Fried Vegetable Dumplings chef to try. Luke and I chose the pork, the chicken and the steak, we are nearly always carnivorous in our meal choices. We were lucky that our table was a ‘sharing table’, so we got to try some of the lush vegetarian dishes too, in the name of blogging one has to be prepared to go veggie every now and then.
As a buffet novice I have to admit that expectation was not particularly high, the only buffets I have been to are horrid, neon lit ‘all you can eat’ joints whilst travelling in America, where the concept seems to involve loading one’s school-canteen-style tray with horrifying amounts of lukewarm junk food, that wouldn’t pass even the most lax of food safety inspections.
It was therefore a lovely surprise to have my expectations exceeded by the good folks at FeD, the chef special dishes were not only beautifully presented (worthy of any blogger’s Instagram) but were really flavourful as well. We ‘oohed and aahed’ over their vibrant colours and all stood over dishes happily snapping away. I appreciate this must have been an amusing site for other customers, thank you for having the restraint not to shout out ‘just sit down and bloody eat it’, just like my fed up mother once instructed me.
The Poŕk Shogayaki was my favourite dish of the evening, a grilled pork slice served with a vibrant relish, it was light and fresh and had a wonderful zingy taste. The Chicken Valdostana was an interesting dish, a baked chicken breast with mushrooms, herbs and cheese over spaghetti, it’s the kind of dish that when glanced at on a menu, sounds like it shouldn’t work but was actually really tasty. The chicken was juicy and well cooked and the added cheese and mushrooms gave it a lovely home-cooked feel. Again FeD, you continue to surprise and indeed delight me. Bravo.
We then got to tuck into a range of desserts, including mini cakes, warm chocolate for dipping from their very own chocolate fountain, and desert classics such as tiramisu and lovely, wobbly jelly. I suppose I should be thankful for my relatively small appetite, otherwise I would rampage through the entire dessert section, like some unstoppable cake fiend. I admit I had to be gently persuaded away from the chocolate fountain, as I have been known to try and stick my face in one before, in my defence it was after a wine or three.
My impression overall is that FeD is not just your average buffet, they are clearly striving to do something different and break the boring buffet boundaries. I would recommend a visit when you next find yourself suitably ravenous in Cardiff, make sure you try one of the ‘Chef Special’ dishes and get yourself proper FeD.