Recently I was asked by a new local restaurant to go and try out their new offerings to give you all my thoughts – the restaurant is in Crawley which is known for low priced chain restaurants, so Xenia is something totally new and different. In fact, it’s quite unique and I don’t think there’s anything else really like it across the whole of Sussex so it’s worth travelling for if you’re not super local.
The concept is a Brazilian all you can eat Rodizio style where, for a fixed cost, ‘Passadors’ aka your waiters, bring skewers of meat to your table one at a time and carve up around 14 cuts of chargrilled meats. They will keep bringing the meats until your coaster tells them to stop (see below – a great idea to avoid numerous interruptions to your evening!). In addition they have a self-service hot latin buffet and cold salad bar, with a selection of Brazilian inspired starters and nibbles, along with over 90 cocktails on the menu.
Before becoming Xenia, this space was a world buffet which had become quite run down and didn’t have the nicest atmosphere. However the owners have done an amazing job of creating a really lovely environment to sit for hours and enjoy the food or even just some drinks in the bar area. There is an outside area and a bar area separate from the restaurant so there really is something for everyone, even if you just want to pop in after seeing a film for a quick cocktail. Our waitress was so lovely and helpful without being invasive, and the chefs work is so impressive – from the meats served at the table to the carved fruit and vegetables at the buffet bar. It just makes for a really upmarket atmosphere to have the little details thought of like that which is so refreshing!
As someone who really doesn’t drink very much, cocktails don’t excite me an awful lot but the Peach Bellini I had was to die for and I could’ve kept on drinking it all day. It was just sweet enough but not too sweet that it took away from my meal. Dan had an Ice Blue which is basically Vodka and blueberries, again I was sceptical as I think I overdid vodka during freshers year so I don’t really drink it anymore… but the cocktail was delicious and you could tell that both were homemade. They took a little while to arrive to the table but given the quality of them that is not surprising, and we were able to start filling our plates while waiting for them!
The lovely owner, Nika, explained the concept of the restaurant to us and took us through the range of items on the buffet. For starters, there was some delicious bread and different cold meats, along with some Brazilian inspired bites such as potato in breadcrumbs, cod, chicken or beef in breadcrumbs and even banana in breadcrumbs!
The cold buffet is a really great selection and there are so many salad choices which make a great accompaniment to the main meal. The hot buffet features a selection of rices, potatoes, chargrilled veggies and other sides to go with the meats. However there are also some hot dishes that could stand on their own such as stroganoff, casseroles or cod in a cream sauce – these add a great little twist to the salad and meat you’ll be indulging in!
Onto the main… the idea is you order a certain type of Rodizio, either meat only, seafood only, vegetarian or the FULL RODIZIO which is Meat and Seafood (I recommend this one!). The waitress very kindly took our order for seafood in advance as this is prepared to order and brought to your table, I loved this as I’d always be wary eating seafood such as prawns from a buffet – and this made sure they were perfectly cooked. You can choose any from prawns, salmon, sea bass, scallops, mussels, calamari and more and they’ll bring more as and when you need it! The meat is brought over gradually by the Passadors throughout your meal so you get the opportunity to try a wide variety of meats, you can even request how you want your meat cooked (and they can get you the perfect piece just from rotating the skewer!) so it really can suit everyone.
Our favourite meats were the gammon, chicken in mango juice, garlic beef and fillet steak – I think we managed to try 11 in total before we were full to bursting!
When you turn over your counter to show that you’re full, the Passadors bring one final skewer of grilled pineapple cooked in cinnamon as a pallet cleanser. As a healthy food lover I’m sure I’ve put cinnamon on everything but i’ve never tried this before and it was delicious – just what I needed to combat the saltiness of the meats and help with digestion.
Whilst we were super full, we had to have dessert anyway (rude not to hey) and Dan went for the classic Black Forest Gateaux. I went for the Brigadero which is a traditional Brazilian dessert (essentially this is just really yummy moist chocolate cake!) – and whilst it was quite rich, I loved it and it topped off our amazing meal nicely. I would say the dessert menu is quite small and there is no ‘go-to’ easy dessert for any fussy eaters such as ice-cream. To be honest though, I wouldn’t normally go into Xenia for dessert because the main meal is definitely the star of the show and I’d rather use up stomach space on the buffet!
What else do they do?
Xenia are also introducing Salsa nights on Saturdays and Salsa lessons on Mondays, so you can have a great night in just one place in a really convenient location on the leisure park. It’s great to see something like this in Crawley as it feels that little bit more special and I would definitely recommend it, whether you just fancy a lunch out or a fancy celebratory meal.
Let me know if any of you try it – i’d love to hear what you think!