September 15, 2011

Crown Entertainment Complex, Southbank
I was at Conservatory for a family member’s birthday a couple of weeks ago (Happy Birthday Grandma). Having been once before, I was eager to return and blog about the food, since I didn’t remember much of the menu from my previous visit. Firstly, the atmosphere at Conservatory is great, the room is spacious and light, and there’s quite a nice view across the Yarra to the Acquarium.

I had thought initially that I’d take photos of everything my brother and I managed to eat (having skipped breakfast that day), but alas! My camera ran out of battery after I took a few preliminary shots of the buffet, so that will have to satisfy you. But here is a list of the things we managed to try.

To begin, we had (keeping in mind that everything I list consisted of one mouthful of food and not a whole plate of it):

  • Salmon sushi
  • Prawns with a delicious cocktail sauce
  • Oysters w lemon
  • Stuffed calamari
  • Pesto marinated swordfish (nice but a little tough)
  • Veal and chicken terrine (lovely)
  • Corned beef in tomato chutney
  • Prosciutto w melon (melon under-ripe, which was a shame because I love this combination)
  • Sesame asian salad with noodles

We then moved away from the fantastic looking display of seafood to the hot section, which I didn’t take any photos of because all the food was under hot plate covers. I went for the Asian options, A took a more Western plate back to the table, so together we managed to sample most of what was on offer.

  • Prawn dumplings
  • Lentil dahl (Awesome dahl. Awesome)
  • Massaman curry
  • Steamed fish with soy (I didn’t enjoy this at all, the fish had a terrible grey colour and a nasty taste, and it didn’t look particularly fresh)
  • Stir fry noodles
  • Roast, served freshly carved to order. A went nuts at this table, coming back with all three sorts of meat on offer!
  • Kangaroo in red wine sauce
  • Asparagus in béchamel sauce
  • Pork medallions in cider (yummy)

The main attraction of Conservatory for me was the dessert table, simply because there are so many colourful sweets and you feel a little giddy walking up and choosing what you want. It’s like looking down at the display case of Laurent or some other cake store and discovering with no small sense of glee that the glass had disappeared.

A and I jointly tried:

  • Sour cherry mousse
  • Pistachio sponge
  • Chocolate date cake
  • “Raspberry stick” (a wonderfully tart line of mousse that had been piped onto a biscuit)
  • Mandarin and creme anglaise puddings
  • Ice-cream sundae with pistachio, chocolate and creme brulee flavours (creme brulee was my favourite)

And the creme de la creme, the giant chocolate fountain, towering above people’s heads, had kids standing underneath it dipping marshmallow after marshmallow in the liquid chocolate. A very fun way to end a meal, I thought.

All up, I thought it was a fantastic, fun experience, given that I don’t go to buffet’s very often. Nothing too left of centre or revolutionary, but all well executed. I maintain, however, that I’d prefer one or two complete courses at a restaurant where the dishes have been properly thought through and plated, because I feel that gives you a more holistic experience of a dish, rather than a series of mouthfuls that jump from Japan to Italy to India in as many minutes.

But for the fun of it, and certainly for the chocolate fountain, I’d suggest paying a visit to the Conservatory.

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Filed under: Southbank