Restaurant review: Hot Flame World Banquet, Edinburgh

Hot Flame World Banquet, Edinburgh. Picture: Julie Bull
Hot Flame World Banquet, Edinburgh. Picture: Julie Bull
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FOR many people, a Valentine’s Day bonk = result. Not so much for cyclists. In Lycra-clad parlance, a bonk translates as a sudden depletion of glycogen stores that only an immediate intake of food will reverse.

THE VERDICT

HOW MUCH?

Dinner for two, excluding drinks,

£27.98

FOOD

5/10

AMBIENCE

6.5/10

TOTAL

11.5/20

Usually, my other half downs Jelly Babies and flapjacks, but this time, he was too far gone.

I knew the most romantic gift I could ever give him would be a trip to an all-you-can-eat buffet like this newish chain, in the central square of Edinburgh’s Quartermile. It offers a selection of Indian, Thai, Chinese, Mexican and Japanese food, live cooking of stuff like burgers and karahi from 5pm, as well as extraneous edibles like pizza and a roast on a Sunday. (That’s the day we visited, when it’s £13.99 per person, though the price varies throughout the week, going down to £8.99 from Monday to Thursday, noon until 3pm).

You can make as many visits up to the buffet as you want, which saves on piling your plate high just so that the kitchen porter has to scrape half of it into the bin later. On our visit, it was pretty quiet, though we were sitting next to a table of hollow legged teenage boys – all fringes, bum fluff ‘taches and gig T-shirts. The contents of their parents’ fridges were spared for another day.

With Destiny’s Child as the soundtrack to my first buffet visit, I skipped the lame Japanese segment, which featured one type of wan looking “fish sushi” (crab rolls, I think), a singular variety of “non-fish sushi” (who knows), and a crocodile of sickly looking prawn nigiri. Instead, we headed towards the tureens in the Chinese/Thai section, for lashings of Peking ribs, lemon and Szechuan chicken, red curry, vegetable noodles, thin postage stamps of beef in oyster sauce, as well as accessories – crab claws, fish cakes, squid rings, prawn crackers, spring rolls – all of which are on offer at the end of each foodie island.

“It’s a bit ‘mum’s gone to Iceland’,” said my sweetheart, regarding all the brown, non-saucy stuff. Indeed, these nibbles were pretty similar to the bog standard supermarket party snacks that Kerry Katona might serve at one of her house parties.

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iPhone | iPad | Android | Kindle I don’t really know what to say about the wetter dishes. I suppose they weren’t too bad, considering the logistics of them having to remain semi-edible after sweating in a pot for ages. It’s just the sameyness – sugary, watery sauces, running into each other to create a wash of diluted flavour – that bothered me.

The Indian section featured the best things, including a tomatoey chicken karahi, mushrooms with spinach, and chickpea masala, but also a less successful salty blur of prawn makhani, chicken korma and a soupy lentil dhal, all of which were set off by solids including flaccid garlic nan and a calcified cauliflower pakora, which resembled a rugby player’s deep fried ear. I’d kind of lost my mojo at this point, while my Angel on Two Wheels seemed to be in a happy carbohydrate-induced fug.

Up he went, for a dry heel of roast beef and some undercooked roast potatoes.

Then, another fresh plate was required for spongy thick triangles of vegetable and spicy chicken pizza. “It’s a good job I’ve got a thing for slightly cold pizza, isn’t it?” he said.

I regained some enthusiasm for pudding. The passion fruit tart wasn’t too bad, nor was a bit of white chocolate and meringue-topped raspberry shortbread. Mind you, their profiterole was like a stale bap injected with brown foam, sticky toffee pudding was equally bready, and a scoop of Smurf blue ice-cream tasted like Cif. There’s loads of other stuff, including a milk chocolate fountain with accompanying fruit and marshmallows, should you want to go wild and dip your stick in it.

Anyway, if you’re a teenage boy, or anyone else who might be expecting a certain kind of bonk this Valentine’s Day, you should make your way along to Hot Flame. Here, size really is all that matters.

Hot Flame World Banquet,

2 Lister Square,

Edinburgh

(0131-228 4400, www.hotflamerestaurants.com)