The idea had mulled around for a while as we’ve yet to find a Melbourne equivalent of The Line’s spectacular buffet lunch in Singapore. I’d read about it various ‘Things to do in Melbourne’ write ups but was concerned the Southbank effect of over promising and under delivering would burst our bubble. Nonetheless, Easter Sunday seemed a pretty good excuse to take the plunge and give it a whirl. At $120 per head it’s not cheap for a Sunday lunch and I was wary of paying a $30 premium just because it was Easter – that’s a pretty expensive ‘free’ easter egg.
The hotel itself looks nothing from the outside but is old-school plush on the inside and a welcome surprise. The ravenous hordes crowded around the entrance ready to plunge into the seafood a little too keenly. Lunch lasts 4 hours so there was no rush but the staff and waiting guests appeared to draw up battle lines in the countdown to noon. It was all a bit embarrassing, especially as I was elbowed out-of-the-way by one over-zealous mother and her 4 children in a bid to get to the front of the queue. All unnecessarily of course, as seating is allocated by booking.
The staff and service were great, on the way to our window table, the waitress showed us around the various stations and explained how it all worked. We ordered wine and launched ourselves. The seafood platters consisted of oysters, prawns, muscles and crayfish. The prawns were a little disappointing in that they were small and bland in comparison to others I’ve eaten and the dressings were limited for oysters unless you’re willing to venture over to the sushi station and steal theirs.
There are roasts aplenty with chicken, lamb, spiced pork belly, crispy duck and beef on offer. Vegetables weren’t readily available and Posh boy was disappointed not to find gravy (I found it tucked away on the side) and yorkshire puddings. It is all about timing when it comes to the roast station as the chef was busy serving the long queue for crispy duck pancakes and not replenishing the meat trays. A personal highlight for me was the Indian station where the chef cooked naan to your specification – the cheese and garlic was beautiful – in a kiln type oven. The saag aloo and chicken tikka dishes were also delicious. I wasn’t so sure about keeping the tails on the prawns in the masala, it just made for messiness.
Pacing is also key for these buffets, the cheese board and antipasta stations cannot be skipped and I’d recommend those over the more popular seafood and roast stations to be honest. The desserts finished things off nicely with the small portions perfect to sample a few without feeling sick.
A good walk along Southbank is a must after the indulgence but unfortunately for us, it was raining so we made our way back to Posh Boy’s for an afternoon nap. It’s the best buffet lunch I’ve had in Melbourne but I’d still say the quality was a little disappointing. You’re never going to get top quality produce at a buffet lunch for $120 I did expect a little more.