While I have been away, I've missed out on my favourite restaurants. The trashy (and slightly embarrasing places which I feel I need an alias such as Karen Walker's Anastasia Beaverhausen), the cafes (Mr Tulk, I hope you've maintained your fabulousness), the everyday, and the fine dining ones.
Ever since Crown Casino opened, we have been making our (at least) annual pilgrimmage to the Conservatory. Over the years, we've tried quite a few fine dining buffets (and also quite a few mid-range buffets), but none surpasses the food and the experience at the Conservatory.
The Conservatory is decorated in plush, modern decor. Inside it's light, tasteful and elegant. There are views of the Yarra River.
I'll say upfront that my photos do not do justice to the range and quality of food that's available. You just have to go to see it for yourself.
It's difficult to identify everything that I ate; also, I didn't take photos of every dish that I tried - I was too busy enjoying the food, and rightly so. On the day we went, there were:
- beef fillets
- veal fillets
- lamb fillets
- roast chicken and beef
- assorted roast vegs and mash
- rice and breads
- two types of soup
- two types of curries with poppadams
- seafood dumplings
- barramundi in Thai green curry
- Waldorf salad
- oysters, mussels, prawns, smoked salmon galore
- baby octopi salad
- fresh DIY salad ingredients
- some sort of terrine/pate
- a range of cured meats
I'm sure there's a few other dishes that I left off.
Aside from the seafood, the other notable element of the buffet is the dessert buffet. Once again, here is an almost complete list of what was available:
- a selection of ice creams, with waffle cones, fruit purees and a range of toppings
- a baked hot pudding
- several cakes and mini cakes and tarts
- chocolate fountain
- fruit salad
As it was Mr P's birthday, we got a complimentary birthday cake and champagne. Tea and coffee is served at the end of your meal.
Food - 10
Ambiance - 10
Service - 10
Price - 10
We've been going to the Conservatory for over 10 years. Superb, reliable and memorable. Excellent service, excellent food - definitely a lot of bang for your buck. My mother who doesn't like raw oysters, asked for a dozen of them to be steamed for her, which they did happily.
Even little Bubba Chuck loves the Conservatory - she's making us proud by being the next generation of our family to enjoy the sumptuous dining experience.
Depending which day you go, there may be time limits (about two hours). There is also an a la carte menu. I'm sure it's good, but why limit yourself to one dish when you can have it all in the buffet? They also do Tiffins (afternoon tea).
Some pearls of wisdom:
- do not eat breakfast beforehand (or lunch, depending which sitting you're going to); and don't expect to eat dinner that night
- go slow, savour each morsel. Do not peak to early by your greediness to gorge on everything at once
- no matter how much you love your carbs, take heed of Fran Drescher's character's advice in The Nanny: avoid the carbs - they're just empty fillers; concentrate on the seafood
- when you book, say that it's someone's birthday. You get a free glass of champagne each, and a cake at the end to share (which you can take home with you)
- bookings are recommended, especially for peak periods (eg Christmas)
- wear elasticised pants
- don't bother coming if you're on a diet or if you don't like seafood...it's a sacrilege not to enjoy everything that's on offer
Level 2, Crown Casino
8 Whiteman St
Telephone: 9292 6895