Inside Poole’s chaotic buffet with parents chasing children, strobe lighting and paying before entering

With a hygiene rating of one and plenty of shocking reviews, Day’s Restaurant in Poole has certainly earned a mixed reputation. Although its overall rating on Tripadvisor is 3.5 out of 5, some of its more recent reviews are less than flattering and it has 70 “terrible” reviews.

Many of the worst reviews on Tripadvisor raise hygiene issues and complaints about customer service. Others express their anger because, since diners pay before entering the dining room, they cannot see what they are paying for until it is too late.

However, 112 others gave the restaurant five stars (including three in the last nine months). In February, one reviewer said “all the food we had was cooked brilliantly and tasted great”, while another said: “desserts including Mr. Whippy, pancakes, waffles and la chocolate mountain were also delicious.”

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Dorset Live previously contacted Day’s Restaurant for comment on its food hygiene rating of one – defined as ‘major improvement needed’ – which was awarded in February this year. However, no response was received.

With these extremely mixed reviews in mind and having to pay before seeing what’s on offer, I went to Day’s to find out what it was really like – and if it was as chaotic as the reviews would have you make it out to be. believe.

The days have a cashier at the front of the restaurant with a screen blocking it from the main dining area, so before paying customers have no idea what the restaurant is like. While I was waiting here, I was already faced with something sinister, as children sat with their hands in a man-made pond where big fish were swimming.

I sincerely hoped those same hands wouldn’t touch any open food containers, and I also felt bad for the poor fish, who didn’t have much room to swim.

After paying £18 for all you can eat I was shown into the main restaurant and the atmosphere instantly changed. While the front checkout is bright with lots of decorations, the huge restaurant was dimly lit and looked like a canteen. One of my chairs was held together with tape which didn’t create a good first impression.

Some of the food presentation looked less than appetizing at Days Restaurant, Poole

My server asked me if I had been here before and if I knew how it worked. I said no, but he misunderstood and started to leave. I asked him to explain himself and was told to take a plate and have a drink at the bar.

I can’t stress enough that anyone with an aversion to twinkling lights shouldn’t come here, as it was like a disco with the strobe light going on. The lights above and on the counters kept flashing all the time, and one light even changed color. This, coupled with the music from the early 2010s, certainly created a chaotic atmosphere right from the start, despite the nearly empty restaurant.

I ordered a drink and unfortunately found that it was not included in the £18 I had already paid. However, the drink options were good and I then headed to the counters to check out the food on offer.

The restaurant certainly offers a variety of dishes, including a range of East Asian, Indian and British options. There were also dedicated teppanyaki and waffle chefs to cook to order, a dessert section, and the chocolate fountain.

I arrived just as the restaurant was opening for the evening so it seemed pretty clean. However, some plates spilled food, many tong handles were greasy, and some options already seemed dry under the heat lamps. The kitchen was open and available to view, and despite what some reviewers have suggested there didn’t seem to be any nasty surprises and seemed clean.

I stayed in the restaurant for a good hour, and as it started to fill with customers, it became more chaotic. Parents chased children trying to help themselves. However, the staff stayed on top of the cleaning and in some cases were a bit overzealous; a member of staff completely emptied a table and was halfway through sweeping the floor when customers returned with more food.

Another member of staff took the time to show the kids how to use the tongs, and the chocolate fountain seemed to have been strategically placed out of reach of young children. But, as you would expect in an all-you-can-eat buffet, the food containers were open and ready to eat. They had been left outside for hours and there were young children present.

The buffet area of ​​Days Restaurant, Poole
The buffet area of ​​Days Restaurant, Poole

Did I see anything particularly awful, as some reviews had suggested? I can’t say I did. Yes, a kid grabbed shrimp crackers with his hand, and yes, it wasn’t as clean as you might hope. However, as a buffet in Tower Park – a popular place with children – what can you expect?

While there are obviously things Day’s Restaurant could and should improve – lighting and their one-star hygiene rating being perhaps the main concerns – I have to ask reviewers what they expect during a pandemic. At the end of the day, an all-you-can-eat buffet at a children’s amusement park will require parents to keep an eye on their children to keep standards high. Staff shouldn’t have to, and a sign on the door said they were also currently recruiting, suggesting they might be currently short-staffed.

However, part of Day’s problem is that people don’t know what to expect because before paying they can’t see inside the restaurant. With a high price of £18 per person, their expectations get high even before they enter.

Especially at £18pp I honestly cannot recommend Day’s Restaurant. But those who are bothered by children’s hands in food can choose literally anywhere else – even another all-you-can-eat buffet in a less kid-oriented location would be better.

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