Sometimes when you have something unpleasant to do, it’s nice to organise a treat for yourself afterwards, making it sweeter to endure the unpleasantness. Or rather, that’s what I tell myself – I’ll take any excuse I can to enjoy an elaborate breakfast buffet in a top hotel!
K and I had to wake up early one Sunday morning late last year, in order to drop a friend slash house guest at the airport for a super early morning flight. I try to make it a rule to not wake up before 9am on Sundays, so the 6.30am wake-up call was definitely a bit of unpleasantness that needed a treat afterwards! We decided to drop into Luke Mangan’s Glass Brasserie at the Hilton Hotel Sydney after the airport drop-off, so we could enjoy their renowned breakfast buffet – reputed to be one of Sydney’s best breakfast buffets.
We were lucky that we arrived so early in the morning, as we didn’t have a reservation. Without a reservation, and especially given that we weren’t guests at the hotel, we definitely wouldn’t have been able to get a table had we arrived any later than 8.30am. I recommend making a booking!
It’s an impressively airy space with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking George St, as well as an overwhelming selection of wine in their tall wine racks which serve to divide the room for better traffic flow – and I imagine, noise control as well.
As we’re seated at our table, our waiter for the morning came up to us and introduced himself. He explained the layout of the buffet (breads and pastries in one area, hot buffet in another, cold cereals and yoghurts in one corner), and offered us tea or coffee as part of the standard breakfast package. If you want a ‘special’ coffee (e.g. a latte or cappucino), it’s an extra charge on top of the $42 per person for breakfast. Note – we only paid $42 for both of us, as I had a 2-for-1 voucher through the Entertainment Book.
K took the opportunity to go up to the buffet first, while I got my bearings and planned my strategy for attacking the buffet. He was pleased to report that there was a good selection of Chinese-style breakfast dishes in addition to the usual eggs and bacon of Western-style breakfasts. Sometimes, you really can’t go past some dim sum or a hot bowl of jook with crunchy shallots for breakfast!
But then again, who can say no to crispy streaky bacon, and plump pork chipolatas?
As a bit of a carb-fiend, I personally enjoyed the potatoes two-ways offered on the buffet that morning, and helped myself both to the hash browns, and the herbed potato rostis. While the rostis didn’t do that much for me as they were a bit too oily and heavy on the palate, the hash browns were just divine.
An excellent feature of the breakfast buffet at Glass Brasserie are the chefs who are there ready to cook eggs to your specification! They do have ready-made scrambled, fried and poached eggs – however, if you are after a particular egg order, they’re more than ready to oblige.
The fresh juice is a nice feature as well – again, while there are ready-made juices for you to take, you can also request for the chef behind the counter to make up a special juice blend for you. It’s this level of personal customisation that I really enjoyed at the Glass Brasserie, as other hotel breakfasts have been more than disappointing in the past!
There are some who might enjoy the mix of cereal, muesli and yoghurts available in its own little brightly lit corner of the buffet area, but aside from a small serving of overnight oats, I decided to leave the offerings for the more health conscious of my fellow diners.
I had my eye on the real prize – buttery sweet fruity pastries and flaky croissants. Why have Weetbix when you can have a chocolate croissant dusted with icing sugar right?
And while you’re at it, an almond pastry, a jam-filled flaky pastry, and a small escargot doesn’t go down too badly either! We shared these four pastries between the two of us – as much as I wanted to have it all to myself, I knew I wanted to save some stomach space for everything else on the buffet! My pick of the bunch was probably the escargot – it was the sticky sweet glaze on top that sealed it for me!
And now a few shots of various plates that K and I filled up on. I call this plate the culture-clash, with both Chinese fried dim sum and Western baked beans, mushrooms and chipolatas represented. I especially liked the smoked salmon on offer at the buffet, and made sure to have plenty of it. I don’t often buy salmon as it doesn’t always fit into our weekly grocery budget, so to have an unlimited supply at a buffet was a real treat!
This is K’s “eggs two ways” plate, opting for some creamy scrambled eggs, and Eggs Benedict on an English muffin. Unfortunately, the Eggs Benedict didn’t quite hit the spot as the muffin had been sitting in the bain-marie for quite a while, losing any toasted goodness it may have originally had and evolving to a soggy state of being.
This is what I call the “good intentions that veered into syrupy goodness” plate. I started with a little serve of overnight oats, thinking I’d be healthy, graduated to choosing yet some more smoked salmon (good fats! omega 3!), and then took a quick detour to mini waffles and French toast, which were just demanding to be smothered in syrup. Let it be said though – I started out with the very best of intentions, and it’s not my fault that sweet crispy-on-the-outside-doughy-on-the-inside waffles demanded my attention!
By the time we left Glass Brasserie at 9.30am, the restaurant was heaving without a spare table in sight. There were a number of people looking rather dishelved in their pyjamas, having obviously come straight down to the restaurant from their hotel room!
Look, $42 is very expensive for breakfast for one, no matter how impressive the buffet selection. I get that. If however, you find yourself with the opportunity to either stay at the Hilton Sydney and get a discounted breakfast included, or manage to find a 2-for-1 deal like I did, breakfast at the Glass Brasserie is an indulgence that simply can’t be beat.
It truly is one of the best buffet breakfasts I’ve had in my life, and well worth it for the $21 per person that we paid. I’ll definitely be back the next time I manage to get a good deal!