Forget lukewarm food and not much of it... BARRIE HUDSON has a whole different experience at an

all-you-can-eat restaurant


Regent Circus,


Tel: 01793 436208

Parking: The Regent Circus Development has a paying car park

Disabled access: Yes

Adver ratings:

Food: 9/10

Choice: 9/10

Décor: 9/10

Customer service: 10/10

Main course prices: All-you-can-eat, ranges from £8.95 to £16.95 depending on day and time, with concessions available

TripAdvisor rating: 4/5 (36 reviews at the time of writing)

TIFFINS had been on the to-do list for weeks.

“We must try that place,” my partner and I said to one another every time we passed it while heading to or from Morrisons or the town centre.

Sometimes we’d pause long enough to read the price list displayed on a tricycle rickshaw outside, or look through the window and take in the brightly-lit, spacious restaurant with its enormous LED fountains.

It looked like a cheery dining experience, and when we finally found time for a proper visit, a cheery dining experience – and great food - was what we had.

Tiffins’ take on the Indian buffet came first to Cwmbran about a decade ago. Newport followed. Both have a slew of four and five-star ratings on an assortment of websites, and the new(ish) Swindon branch already has an enviable collection of its own.

If you’re one of those people who experiences a pang of anxiety when you see the word “buffet” in the description of a restaurant, I feel your pain.

I must have eaten in dozens down the years, and they’ve been a more or less even split between very good and the absolute opposite, with hardly any falling in between.

There are buffets where the food is so lukewarm that you wonder about your health.

Or where the food is replenished so infrequently that crowds of desperate diners converge like Serengeti vultures on carrion during a gnu shortage. Or the staff chuck batches of food into the pots with all the attentiveness of harassed stokers on a tramp steamer in a heavy swell.

Or where all the dishes seem to taste the same, no matter what they look like or what the labels say.

Tiffins is firmly at the other extreme, and now we know how good it is, we’ll definitely visit again.

Shown almost immediately to a table for two by an attentive waiter, we ordered drinks from the menu and were given a concise but unhurried rundown of where everything was.

The spaciousness of the dining area made for an unobstructed amble to the spotless self-service zone, which is itself spacious enough to minimise queueing. As veterans of other buffets we were pleased to see that the half-dozen or so varieties of rice were kept heated in large metal vessels with easily-resealed hinged lids.

On a similar note, the metal units where the various dishes are stored are just the right height to allow most people to reach them without having to lean, and each dish has its own serving utensil.

The variety on offer is impressive, with dishes to cater for all tastes from mildest to wildest, and customers can return to the food area as many times as they wish.

In the interests of journalistic thoroughness – that’s our excuse and we’re sticking to it – we sampled a list including sag aloo, garlic mushrooms, onion bhaji, aubergine pakora, chicken pakora, meat dishes ranging from korma to madras, an assortment of samosas and a delicious salad with mint sauce.

Yes, we had a salad.

I can honestly say there wasn’t a single dud among them. My favourite was the chicken madras, which was more than hot enough to mean business yet thoughtfully spiced.

Although neither of us is vegetarian, we were impressed by the selection of meat-free dishes, and the fact that they were displayed in a way which eliminated the risk of cross-contamination.

Like just about any buffet place worth its salt, Tiffins has a well-stocked dessert section including a chocolate fountain, slices of delicious cake and assorted other fancy things including a lovely, light and refreshing Indian rice pudding.

When I first saw the little bowls of rice pudding at the bottom of the dessert cabinet, I assumed they were the base for something to which other ingredients had to be added.

Not wanting to make a fool of myself, I gave it the swerve until a member of staff who turned out to be the manager, Raj, spotted me tucking into a slice of cake and suggested I give the rice pudding a try.

Later, having discovered a new favourite dessert, I suggested to him that the rice pudding should be displayed more prominently, perhaps with a little sign saying: ”No assembly required.”

After all, it would be a shame for anybody to miss out.

When we went to pay our bill, the total for our relaxing, very enjoyable meal came to a little less than £40, and more than a quarter of that was for our four beers.

I would happily recommend Tiffins to anybody.