“ Address: The Venue / Merlin Rd / Cribbs Causeway / Bristol / Avon / BS10 7SR / England / Tel: 0117 959 8282 „
I recently ended up in the Preview Bar and Grill. This was not my choice but Mr Tart and I were meeting some other people and they wanted to go there so we joined in. Mr Tart had been before and said that I wouldn't like it and he was completely right (don't tell him though - doesn't happen too often!).
Preview is located just off junction 17 of the M5 opposite the Cribbs Causeway shopping centre. It is part of the Venue complex which also features a cinema and other restaurants such as Frankie and Benny's and Bella Italia.
Upon arrival you have to wait to pay before you can even sit down. This did not bode well for me. I really don't like the idea of having to pay for food before I've even really seen what's on offer. However, as I said we were meeting people so I smiled through it and paid up. Our food was £9.95 each for the all you can eat buffet. It is cheaper at lunchtime I believe. We also went for the unlimited drink refills which were £2.25 each.
Once we'd paid we were allowed through the barrier (you know you're in a classy restaurant when there's a barrier....) and were given our glasses. We sat in a booth. There is a variety of tables and booths and there is certainly plenty of seating in the restaurant. The atmosphere was pretty awful. The lighting was bright and harsh. There were a few families in the place and lots of larger clientele filling their plates (no offence meant, I'm saying what I saw).
There was nothing on the table. You had to help yourself to cutlery and crockery. The plates were pretty tiny but I guess that's fair enough when it's all you can eat. Next to the cutlery place there was a drinks fountain where you could have Sprite, Coke or Fanta.
There was quite a wide selection of different types of food. I started with the salad bar. I avoided the lettuce because it looked tired and a little brown. The rest of the salad was fairly standard fare: tomatoes, beetroot and pasta salad. There were four dressings to choose from including thousand island and Caesar. On the salad bar you could also have prawn cocktail but there was no way I was going to be eating seafood from this place! The salad wasn't terrible, I ate it all.
I also tried the pizza which was edible but fairly dull. The Italian section also had two pastas and I wanted to try the carbonara but didn't have enough room to fit it in. I did try the Chinese section where I had chow mein, spring rolls and mixed vegetables. I put some soy sauce on this but it was very overpowering.
You could also have grilled food, including burgers. There was a British section where you could have fish and chips but the chips looked very soggy so I didn't have any. There was an Indian section which I avoided as I'm not a fan of anything spicy.
One big problem was that once you'd finished one plate you didn't want to have the same one to go and eat something else. My first one had salad dressing all over it and I didn't fancy that with my chow mein. The staff took a ridiculous amount of time to clear our table. Normally I would just have left my plate on another table but I was with people I didn't know and didn't want to seem naughty!
There was also a selection of desserts at the Preview buffet. Mr Tart was kept amused by the Mr Whippy style ice cream machine (as I'm sure most children would be....). Once in the bowl you could add chocolate sauce and sweets to the top of this. I went for chocolate ice cream from the freezer (cones were available if you wanted them) and you could also have Angel Delight (yuk!).
We finished our food around 8.30. We then started being hassled by the staff asking us if we wanted any more and if we had finished. They even started turning the lights off! I could understand if they said on the way in that they close at 9 and is that ok, but there was nothing like this. I felt as if I was being thrown out.
Well overall I was very unimpressed with this place. There are a couple of big problems. One is the price. I think that £9.95 is actually not very good value considering how many set price menu offers and vouchers there are available for much nicer restaurants. I know that in Preview you get a dessert as well but I would much rather go to Pizza Express and probably pay the same price for a freshly made pizza. The food at Preview was edible and some of it was even tasty in a fast food way but I really dislike fast food so it wasn't for me. The next problem for me was the atmosphere. Having a barrier and having to pay before going in was really off putting. I found the seating quite uncomfortable and the general atmosphere like I was in a cafeteria.
The staff weren't rude but the time it took to clear our plates and then hassling us to leave and starting to turn the lights off was unacceptable in my opinion. I guess I'm just not cut out for this place. To me it was like feeding time at the zoo, with gannets being the main attraction. I have used the word restaurant in the review because I didn't know what else to call it but I can't really give it that title when I think of some of the amazing restaurants I've eaten in. To my mind this place is not the bargain it makes out and there are much better value restaurants that serve freshly prepared food for around the same price where the atmosphere is much more welcoming.
I recently visited this restaurant and have fallen very ill with the stomach flu! I couldn't have got it anywhere else. I will not eat here again it's clear that the staff don't wash their hands. iv'e been really suffering through this not to mention i'm also pregnant! will never go back! STAY AWAY!!
When it comes to eating it out it's one of my favourite things to do especially when I'm holiday which I'm now back from! I went on holiday with my buddy Liz in a caravan all over New Year and way beyond to stay near my best mate and her family who run a pub and the only reason we couldn't stay there was because we had four dogs in tow with us!
Anyway I digress.... her 14 year old daughter wanted to go shopping and came up with dragging us to Cribbs Causeway shopping centre and when we got there we were hugely surprised how big it was and fast got stuck into mooching around at the January sales. After a few hours past we were hungry and little Miss C (my friends daughter) said she wanted to go here and as my mate Liz is Vegetarian we thought there would be decent foody choices here for her as she got sick of eating rubbish whilst away lol!
Where It Is:
Tel: 0117 959 8282
Mid Week Daytime £5.95
Mid Week Evening £7.95
Weekends & Bank Holidays £9.95
Children Under 10 Years £4.95
Unlimited Soft Drink £1.95
Open from 11.30am till late!
The Restaurant Itself:
Very large, open and airy with pot plants scattered, wooden floors and an extensive bar as you walk in. You pay here before you go get yourself seated and as we went in the evening we paid £7.95 each and actually did buy a glass to 'top up' with free pop as we went along type of thing.
You choose your seating area yourself and we had a choice of where we wanted to sit at different shaped and sized tables and got a window seat with plenty of room!
All you do then is help yourself to as much (or as little food as you wish) when you want to of course.
The resteraunt had a bit of pop music playing gently in the background that wasn't at all intrusive and although staff (who were smartly dressed) did clear the table for us regularly I never seen any personally which meant we were left in total peace and not one bit hounded!
There were four food areas all conected to the top of the resteraunt and all you do is grab a plate and cutlery and get stuck in! The first 'bar' was salads and pastas and had a really decent choice there! Bread rolls and butter were freshly put out often during our visit and the salad and vegetables were crisp and really fresh. Also the pastas were tasty and my mate the Veggie was incredibly pleased and loved the potato salad and also at that section there were a lot of sauces to choose from such as thousand island and blue sauce to 'pep' up meal choices!
The next bar had battered fish, hand baked pizzas, burgers, chips and sausages on it. Again accompaniments were there to turn these things into hot dog rolls etc and we all particularly loved the pizza slices as there were many different types to choose from (again a veggie option was there!). There was also Chinese food but not many options here but enough really to get by. Sweet and sour chicken, mushroom something and something Vegetarian, Chinese chicken curry and rice and noodles were there, all hot, fresh and tasty and it was lovely to be able to mix and match foods up and eat what I wanted when I wanted!
Usually I'm so stuffed I don't bother with desserts but boy did I stuff myself here big time. Little Miss C went for chocolate cake and sweets such as jelly beans, me I ate plates of carrot cake and Liz liked some sort of Eaton mess! We never wanted to leave!
The toilets were all mega clean and smelt fresh and of course there is a disabled loo open at all times. The menu although not all that extensive did cater for all types of palettes and was topped up regularly however the desserts were not which meant if anything had ran out that was your lot.
The resteraunt is clean and really tidy, the staff are polite but not invasive and I do like that fact that it is a big restaurant and your not sat on top of other people feeling uncomfortable.
We enjoyed our time here and feel it's a great place to bring kids to but equally at night with a cocktail list (and a reasonable priced one at that) it is also great for adult get togethers.
I would visit here again with no problems though as I stated earlier I would like to see a few more interesting food choices on the menu!