On arrival, I saw the variety of seafood, salads, desserts and the theme of readiness. Stone slabs and wooden panels set the tone of Melba's Brasserie. I settled on my chair at the top end of a long dining table, could not pace myself initially, but felt relaxed by my company (the Yeaps) at table and the friendly staff attending to us. Buffets can be tricky, often under appreciated for what they entail and the palate's overall satisfaction depends on the sequence of menu selections thoughtfully chosen.
At the Melba Brasserie, four things stood out, the oysters, Moreton Bay bugs, green lipped mussels and the carvery meats. The evening began on a easy note, not too noisy, as we were early, but as the place filled up on a Sunday evening and the autumn air played its colours outside, more diners messed up their tables even if they still looked elegant. Still, there was no sense of rush as they sensed out intentions to make the most of the lingering hours of the weekend!
Lobster, crab and Beijing duck were available - how yummy. How does one keep Beijing duck tender and moist for a buffet audience who can walk in at any time? I have a crave for Beijing duck in Melbourne's outer suburbs, like near Wartirna, and did not know what to expect of them from this end of town beside the Yarra River. Melba's has been brave in this respect and that evening came out rather okay with the duck. There were no complaints from me with their Japanese bar, not just tuna stuffed sashimi but also, unagi (eel), yellowtail, octopus, king fish and salmon choices, and those California maki rolls. And not to ignore the chocolate fountain and tandoori oven baked bread.
A ritual of any buffet is the unshelling of bright red prawns and the yummy devouring of the delicate flesh. Melba's provides the background, the diversity and the comfort. Consuming such prawns make all of us want to be weekend fishermen, decked out in our boats and hats, learning more of the tides, seasons and currents that deliver such heavenly delights. The freshness and aroma of the rivers and sea came to us as we dabbled our fingers with such prawns, cooked simply without fuss and close to the source they came from.
I finished up the evening , food wise, with small portions of cream brulee, rum baba and a choice of ice cream flavours. Coffee was pretty much taken without too much expectation or comparison from what the Melbourne city lanes could offer. After this dinner, we went for a stroll, with the air slight nippy as for March but also offering us an opportunity for some post digestion of our experience at Melba's.
Atmosphere: Families and good friends gathering all over.
Location: Good side of town.
Taste: Overall satisfaction, but do avoid some specific dishes.
People Engagement: A mature staff member assigned to our table took the effort to commence a dialogue with us, and this is much appreciated, considering the busy night for the restaurant.
Service: Friendly, efficient and without fuss.
Best Time to visit: Saturday evenings.
My Fav Dish Experienced: The Chocolate Melba layer cake. (with both custard and chocolate)
Would I Return?: Oh ya, baby.