Spoon, Cascades Shopping Centre, Portsmouth | Restaurant Review
In Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away the parents of main character Chihiro are transformed into pigs after gorging themselves on plate after plate of food.
It is a scene that is truly horrifying and now, after taking a trip to the newly opened Spoon world buffet, one that is all too relatable.
Tucked away in the far corner of the Cascades Shopping Centre, it has already become one of the hottest dining spots in town judging by the line extending out of the doorway on the Saturday mid-afternoon we paid our visit.
After queuing for a few minutes, the line moved quicker than expected. We arrived at the counter and paid for the lunchtime sitting: £8.99 for all-you-can-eat.
Then we headed up the stairs and it was almost like we had been transported into a different world.
Gone were the bright lights of the shopping centre, replaced by a sprawling restaurant – the very existence of which seems preposterous.
The room itself is dimly lit with no windows to provide natural light, giving it a strange sense of timelessness. How long had we been in the restaurant? Had it been five minutes or two hours?
A low hum of music can be heard in the background, loud enough to make you feel at ease chatting away without fear of being overheard but not so overpowering that you can’t hear what you are saying.
The décor is minimalist and modern but let’s be honest, you do not come to an all-you-can-eat buffet for charm and quirky designs.
No it is the thrill of trying to game the system and devour far more food than you paid for.
My accomplice on this culinary heist mission had taken the all-you-can-eat gauntlet like a red flag to a bull and starved himself since the night before.
Given the queue snaking outside the door, it came as no surprise to find the restaurant was extremely busy and made it quite a mission to try and get to the food.
You could see the variety of different tactics on display while circling the banks of dishes, which ranged from Chinese to Japanese, Italian and Indian.
Some people would make their way down a row taking a little bit of everything while others would stand in the same spot and just reach as far as the spoon would take them to grab what was available.
Perhaps it was teething issues or just higher demand than expected but many of the dishes were empty.
Eventually I managed to get my first plate and it was time to tuck in. On an individual dish by dish basis the food was fine but nothing to write home about – with a few dishes a bit cold for my liking.
But then this is where the magic of a buffet comes in, Spoon comes alive with the sheer ludicrousness of what ends up on your plate.
In what other restaurant would you end up with a combo of popcorn chicken, curry sauce, fried rice and noodles all on the same plate, with a spoonful of veg thrown in to ease the conscience.
Your taste buds shouldn’t be able to process all these competing cuisines but yet in this dimly-lit, timeless other-worldly space it all makes sense and the abstract becomes palatable.
I was defeated after two-and-a-half plates, my stomach ready to burst on the spot. My friend managed one more and then found room for a few scoops of ice cream.
We were soon politely ushered out as the restaurant started to prepare for dinner service and we emerged back into the real world with our bellies full and a hint of regret at giving in to gluttony.
Perhaps not literally transformed into pigs but feeling like we had.
RATINGS (out of five)
Tel: (023) 9286 5998