Last month, new buffet restaurant Fed (Food Exploration Destination) opened in Cardiff offering diners the opportunity to sample global cuisine from 9 live kitchens, all under one roof. The kitchens include: Indian, Chinese, Tex-Mex, Italian, Japanese, Salad and Sushi, Grill, Carvery and Desserts.
Located next to Cineworld and opposite the new Admiral insurance headquarters, Fed covers 13,000 square feet and occupies two floors, the second storey featuring a mezzanine dining area for private or corporate hire.
However, the concept of a restaurant serving several different cuisines is not exactly a new one for Cardiff. Red Hot World Buffet launched in Hill Street, Cardiff (where the old St David’s Centre connects with the new St David’s 2) back in 2011 and there are lots of similarities between the two restaurants – both are based across two storeys and serve buffet-style food spanning different cuisines, in addition to offering several live cooking stations.
After noticing these similarities, I asked whether there was a connection between Fed and Red Hot, and it turns out that the founders of Fed, brothers Sachin and Shailesh (Sal) Bajpai, used to belong to the management team at Red Hot.
I’m not particularly fond of Red Hot for a number of reasons, namely quality of food, range of dishes available (tend to be quite basic and stereotypical) and freshness of buffet dishes. So, I was slightly dubious about attending Fed to begin with, but my experience left me feeling pleasantly surprised.
Upon arrival, my guest and I were greeted and escorted to a table that had been reserved for us in the middle of the restaurant. The waitress showed us the drinks menus and asked if we’d been here before, before proceeding to explain the layout of Fed’s different kitchens.
To drink, we really liked the look of Fed’s cocktails and at just £4.99 each, they offered great value for money.
I tried out a Long Island iced tea, which was served in a large goblet-style glass with ice cubes and a wedge of lime. It was flavoursome and refreshing, although the rum was a little too strong.
Here’s what I thought of Fed’s 9 live kitchens:
Fed’s Grill kitchen gives diners the opportunity to select the type of meat they want to eat, the cut they prefer and the marinade they would like the most. The daily specials available when we visited were sirloin steak, chicken supreme, lamb steak, chicken satay, lamb chops and handmade beef burgers.
If you want to you can watch your food being flame grilled in the open plan kitchen, or alternatively just give the chef your table number and the food will be brought over to your table.
We didn’t get round to trying out anything fresh from the grill because we ended up getting so full up off all of the other food, but we chose a few buffet items from the grill for our starters.
The lemon and pepper chicken was delicious – chicken thighs with a crispy coating infused with pepper and a hint of lemon, in a light spicy sauce.
We also loved the peri peri chicken wings, which were surprisingly spicy (much to my delight!) and were served in a rich sauce containing sliced green, red and yellow peppers. Judging by how many of these were left, they were pretty popular with other diners too. However, the serving dishes were constantly being replenished by Fed’s staff and nothing ever seemed to run too low before being topped up again.
To accompany all that chicken we tried some chargrilled corn on the cobs, which tasted both fresh and flavoursome.
The carvery consisted of a large, well-cooked joint of beef with carrots, sprouts, roast potatoes (made using new potatoes in their skins) and gravy. Although, how anyone can entertain the idea of eating a carvery meal at a buffet that features 9 kitchens is beyond me, but each to their own!
From here we moved on to the Chinese kitchen, which sits next to the Grill station.
We began with some mini vegetable spring rolls. The batter was nice and crispy, but we couldn’t help but noticing that they tasted a little strange, so we didn’t eat too many of these.
There were plenty of prawn crackers to go round, although I gave these a miss as I’m not a fan.
The Indian kitchen offered a range of popular Indian dishes, in addition to some lesser known options.
There were a number of starters available, including these crispy onion bhajis. These were nice, and their small size meant that they weren’t too filling for a buffet.
Same goes for these vegetable pakoras. I liked the batter – it was crispier than it usually is on a vegetable pakora.
The vegetable samosas had a flavoursome filling but the pastry was a little thick for my liking, although I believe this is the more authentic way of preparing samosas, as opposed to using the thin, crispy pastry characteristic of shop or takeaway-bought samosas in the UK.
Fed’s chicken jalfrezi was one of the best I’ve ever tasted. It was fairly hot and full of green chillies, as a jalfrezi should be. I hate it when I order a jalfrezi in a restaurant and it’s not even spicy enough to make my mouth burn. This was just right – a strong heat, but not so bad to have you reaching for a glass of milk. The chicken was flavoured with tikka and it was very tender – it may well have been cooked in the tandoori oven.
The Japanese kitchen allowed diners to pick their own ingredients from a selection of onions, peppers, baby corn, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, noodles (both egg and udon) and have them stir-fried in front of them by the chef.
You could also opt to include seafood, such as mussels or baby squid.
I watched the chef cook some mussels for another guest, but I didn’t fancy trying any for myself. I’m a bit squeamish about seafood.
Salad and sushi
Japanese cuisine also featured in the salad and sushi kitchen.
The sushi selection included maki rolls, sashimi and nigiri. I like sushi but didn’t try any at Fed because I was feeling pretty stuffed by the time we reached this kitchen, and the rice can be surprisingly filling!
The salad selection wasn’t huge, but the choices that Fed offer are certainly unique and anything but boring, with one variety featuring beetroot, orange and pickled onions.
Personally, I was most impressed by the Italian kitchen because this seemed to offer more live cooking ‘from scratch’ than any of Fed’s other kitchens.
The Italian kitchen tempted diners with several different kinds of pizza, each freshly baked in an authentic pizza oven. The toppings included a standard margharita with plenty of cheese…
…and a Hawaiian pizza laden with pineapple and sliced ham, amongst others.
For me though, the real ‘wow’ factor about the Italian kitchen was the option to create your very own pasta dish from a selection of fresh veg, meat, seafood, herbs and pasta.
You can then watch as the chef cooks your pasta to perfection.
The Tex-mex kitchen seemed fairly small in comparison to some of Fed’s other kitchens.
It had baskets full of nachos…
… and an impressive range of toppings including sour cream, tomato salsa, iceberg lettuce, pica de galo, jalapenos and grated cheese. If I wasn’t already fit to burst, I would’ve eaten a mountain of nachos smothered in every topping going. The absence of guacamole was a bit disappointing, though.
Where main courses were concerned, the Tex-mex kitchen offered several popular Mexican classics like chicken fajitas and chilli con carne. These looked fresh and appetising, but after all the Indian food I’d eaten I didn’t fancy anything spicy – and I wanted to leave room for dessert!
Fed’s focus on international cuisine flowed through into the Desserts kitchen in dishes such as gulab jamun, a popular Indian dessert of milk dumplings soaked in sugar syrup.
The creme brulee was perfect, with a hard, crunchy surface and a smooth, creamy centre. In an innovative twist on this firm French favourite, Fed added lemon grass to the dish. Upon first impressions I didn’t think this would work, but it really did!
By the time we left Fed, we felt fit to burst. I was fairly impressed by the quality and range of different cuisines and dishes available, and the freshness of the food. With so much food to get through, it would be a good idea to start with the live cooking stations (like the Grill, Italian and Japanese kitchens) to ensure you get to sample these before you become too full (this is where I went wrong!)
From Monday to Saturday, lunch is served from 12pm – 4pm. Dinner is served from 5pm – 10pm on Monday to Thursday and 5pm – 11pm on Friday and Saturday. On Sundays, the restaurant opens from 12pm – 9.30pm.
Lunch costs £8.99 from Monday to Thursday and £9.99 on Friday and Saturday, whereas dinner costs £13.99 from Monday to Thursday and £14.99 on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, the cost is £12.99.
If you’re thinking of going to get ‘Fed’, it’s probably worth placing a booking online using the website link below – it was pretty packed by the time we left! Perhaps you’ve already tried it out – if so, what did you think of it and what was your favourite kitchen?
Mary Ann Street
(029) 2034 1501
I was invited to Fed as a guest and our food and drinks were provided complimentary. However, I was not obliged to write a positive review.