Review: Glass Brasserie Breakfast at The Hilton Sydney

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.

glassbreakfast-01

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!

glassbreakfast-02

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.

glassbreakfast-03

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.

glassbreakfast-04

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!

glassbreakfast-05

But then again, who can say no to crispy streaky bacon, and plump pork chipolatas?

glassbreakfast-06

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.

glassbreakfast-07

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.

glassbreakfast-08

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!

glassbreakfast-09

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.

glassbreakfast-10

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?

glassbreakfast-14

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!

glassbreakfast-15

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!

glassbreakfast-16

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.

glassbreakfast-17

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!

glassbreakfast-13

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!

glassbreakfast-18

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!

Glass Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Review: Melba, The Langham Hotel, Melbourne

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.

melba-01

The central island with salads and cold dishes creates an easy path for diners as they move through the buffet.

melba-02

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!

melba-03

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.

melba-04

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.

melba-05

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.

melba-06

They even had Moreton Bay Bugs available, which is a bit of a special treat you wouldn’t find anywhere else!

melba-07

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!

melba-08

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.

melba-09

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.

melba-10

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!

melba-11

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!

melba-12

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.

melba-13

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.

melba-14

melba-15

melba-16

melba-17

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.

melba-18

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!

melba-20

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.

melba-21

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!

Melba on Urbanspoon