Charlie Choys is a ‘World Buffet’ that has four locations across the UK at the moment. The Chelmsford one opened just after Christmas after being in the making for many months, the website suggests it was due to open in November, so obviously they were running massively behind. Worth the wait?

Well.. No.

Charlie Choys is sat on the Army and Navy roundabout in Chelmsford, next to the Travelodge, Frankie and Benny’s and Chiquitos. Chiquitos is nothing short of excellent, I would class myself as a ‘regular’ there, Frankie and Benny’s is good as any other F+B across the UK, so Charlie Choys has some stiff competition on Its doorstep.

I visited on the evening of the 28th December after getting an email from their mailing list stating it was now open. I went with my other half and my 7 year old for dinner. After opening a month late you’d expect the finished product to be incredible. It wasn’t. There was general ‘building dust’ on the surfaces, industrial heaters scattered around the place for heat. The ‘ambient music’ was being pumped out through a laptop into an iPod dock, akin to a student party. Bits of the ceiling were missing, heating vents missing too. Behind the decorative finish on the walls were gaps with exposed wires. The general finish was appaling. I was amazed to see the massive coffee machine was blowing out boiling steam onto a plug board directly above it, that’s an accident waiting to happen!

The floor had scraps of food on it, when my other half asked why this was she was told they were ‘too busy’ to clean it, there were probably about 8 tables with people at them.

So, the food, that’ll be alright yeah? Well to be fair, the food was alright, nothing amazing, nothing groundbreaking, but yes it was passable. Considering it is a ‘World Buffet’ I was hoping to see there to be a bit more definition between the cuisine, maybe grouped into countries? None of that, it was all kinda lumped together, with hastily hand written labels – the ‘Egg Fry Rice’ one made me chuckle. I completely missed the Sushi as it was with the (Iceland bought) desserts! The staff also seemed a bit slow to refill the empty food containers, customers shouldn’t have to poke around the scraps at the bottom.

You’d think that because of the fact the establishment clearly wasn’t finished, they might offer new customers a small discount (A lot of new restaurants take 20% off in opening week), no such luck here, £15.95 each for us grown ups and £8.95 for the little one. Which is alright, but still a bit much considering the place was in such a state!

Would I go back? Not for a while for sure. It’s just not really worth it. I had hoped that some of the issues would be sorted by now, but when I drove past last night they still had the industrial heaters on the go.

UPDATE – Charlie Choys in Chelmsford has now closed, and it’s sister store in Southend closed down after breaches found by Environmental Health. 

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