Those who know me know that I’m quite frugal…in fact, regular readers of this blog have probably figured it out as well with the number of times that I’ve talked about using Entertainment Book vouchers or Daily Deals to try new food experiences on a budget. It takes a very special occasion or a very special restaurant to make me consider spending more than what I consider a ‘usual’ amount for a meal.
And honestly, how much more of a special occasion could there be than a hens party?! My gorgeous friend got married recently (a bit ahead of schedule), and we celebrated with a fancy (and relatively tame!) hens dinner at Melba Restaurant in the Langham Hotel Melbourne. Priced at just over $100 per person for a buffet dinner on the weekend (drinks additional), it’s certainly not pocket change but is a great setting for a special occasion.
As soon as I walk into through the lobby of the Langham and into Melba, I am struck with a single thought – this is going to be a buffet experience far beyond my last visit to Sydney Tower Buffet. I’m instantly impressed.
The central island with salads and cold dishes creates an easy path for diners as they move through the buffet.
On staff is a talented sushi chef, dishing up serves of sashimi and sushi on demand. As a sushi lover, you can expect that I visited her for a serve of extremely fresh salmon and tuna sashimi!
Also on staff are a number of talented Indian chefs who make a large variety of naan breads on demand – from simple garlic naans to delightful ‘dessert’ naans with mini M&Ms.
The range of pre-prepared Indian dishes available from curries to grilled meats is impressive. The tandoori chicken was a wonder, with a beautiful smoky flavour.
The trays and trays of fresh seafood also take pride of place, with diners going up for plate after plate of lobster, crab, prawns, and oysters.
They even had Moreton Bay Bugs available, which is a bit of a special treat you wouldn’t find anywhere else!
There’s also a a number of Chinese chefs on staff, cooking up bowl after bowl of delicious noodles or stir fries on demand. Be warned – the line is long!
There’s a number of wonderfully roasted meats and vegetables available as well, carved on demand by a number of knife-wielding chefs. Considering how many trays they must go through every day, I’m surprised by how each piece is cooked to tender moist perfection.
The roast pork is delicious, with amazingly crispy crackling. The tasty roast vegetables also make it easy to ensure that you get a good serve of vegetables in a buffet otherwise loaded with proteins, carbs, and sweets.
There’s a number of interesting salads as well, with this tasty bean salad with salsa being one of my top picks.
With all these amazing food options available, I hardly knew where to start!
I start slow with some seafood – large juicy plump prawns, fresh cut salmon and tuna sashimi, and a few oysters with a chilli vinaigrette. I’m impressed with the freshness of the seafood, and it’s not long before this small seafood appetiser has me going up for more prawns, oysters, sashimi, lobster, and more!
I’m impressed by the cold cuts and cold options. The bean salads, sauteed mushrooms, beans, and salamis are top notch. The Peking Duck that I tried was delicious, but unfortunately the pancake was a bit hard on the edges which affected my overall enjoyment of the duck pancake. It just goes to show – no matter how superior the buffet, there’s always going to be some things that don’t translate well to being kept under heat lamps.
Out of all the hot dishes I tried, I think the Indian options are probably the best of all. While the roast lamb and pork were wonderful, and the freshly made noodles in soup delicious, the Indian dishes have something special about them – more memorable and complex flavours. The custom-made naan breads really hit the spot!
When I’m finally ready to start thinking about desserts, I hardly know where to start. The mini meringues and mini cakes are all clearly put together with incredible care and love, and I find it difficult to choose between the dozen options available.
Obviously the chocolate fountain was a must try though – with both marshmallows and plump juicy fresh strawberries. If you wanted to be truly bad, you could even drizzle some of these amazing molten chocolate over a few scoops of the different flavoured ice-creams available.
What I couldn’t resist though, was the souffle which was baked on demand in a mini convection oven. You could choose to top your Grand Marnier souffle with either a berry coulis, fresh cream or molten chocolate and chocolate candy…you can imagine which I chose!
Others opted for slightly less sweet dessert options, cutting generous wedges of the many top-range cheeses available and helping themselves to the dried fruits and crackers.
Overall, I really appreciate Melba as one of the best buffet restaurants in Australia – while it may initially seem expensive, the quantity, variety and quality of the produce really makes it worthwhile. I highly recommend it as a venue for your next special gathering – our group of hens was certainly well looked after with excellent service!