Sunday, March 13, 2005

Melba Brasserie

The old Sheraton Hotel, now called Langham Hotel is located on the bank of the Yarra River, just about on the way into the city. A few minutes' walk from the Arts Centre, the hotel is convenient and gracious. The lobby is beautiful, adorned with plush carpets and huge vases filled with magnificent flowers. Just walking through the lobby on the way to the buffet restaurant is worth some of the price of dinner!
The buffet is available for both lunch and dinner, and this last time we went for lunch. One can request a seat near the window and gaze out at the Yarra, the bridge, and watch the Southbank traffic go by. A view of a few of the classic buildings of Melbourne are visible in the background. It is a very nice view and certainly a place one wants to show off to out-of-town visitors.
The service is very good. The waiter seems to appear very often to make sure you have what you need. An addicted tea drinker, I asked the waiter to refill my tea cup 4 or 5 times, and he obliged each time with a pleasant smile.
The buffet itself seems too good to be true, and it is too good to be true! It is ample, but much of the individual selections are just not excellent. There is a lot of everything, and it is exciting to have so much of everything available with no limit, but one tires of the choices quickly as each dish is often quite mediocre. In order of appearance:
The bread is actually excellent. They have a bread tray with many kinds of delicious breads and breadrolls. They then have warmers filled with hot selections - some fish, some chicken, some vegetable based. It looked and tasted like cafeteria food. There was hot pasta cooked before your eyes by a chef handling a small fry-pan. I ordered penne with sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, in a tomato sauce, sprinkled with parmesan cheese on top. It was fun to watch, it looked good, but the flavor was bland and the tomato sauce not very tasty. The olives were not that good, and, overall, I imagine most home cooks do a better job.
On the cold buffet, the feta cheese, tomato, cucumber salad was so sleepy, that i did not eat it. I wondered how many days it had been tossed and put out again.
The cold buffet of smoked salmon was also not as fresh as one would like, with the rims of the smoked salmon a bit crusty and old. the sushi looked so dark and malevolent that I was afraid to try it. There were cold cheeses that were lovely, blue cheese, cheddar and brie - just delicious Australian cheeses.
I had little dessert - mostly strawberries and whipped cream, which was nice, although i would have liked larger and sweeter strawberries. The few tarts I tasted were ok.
There is a wonderful feeling of endless food and endless eating at a buffet, and they certainly do not make you feel self-conscious in any way. It is an old-fashioned experience of plenty, designed in a different time, perhaps by a bit of an older generation. So, it is lovely to step back in time a bit, go to a hotel, and just eat until you cannot walk out properly. I think some of the other hotels have had to suspend their buffets and close them because they do not make any money on them. So, I hate to add restraint to a possibly already struggling enterprise. but, for really great food, this might not be the best choice. For a great hotel, a great view, and all the prawns you can fit into your stomach however, this is your best choice!

Score: 13/20
Contributed by EB

1 comment:

Langham Melbourne Accommodation said...

It's been so long since you came to our Melba Restaurant. You should come back. We've added in a Seafood Station that is loaded with delicious crab and morton bay bugs.