As you may know, I’m pretty cynical about buffets. They seem to be a legacy of the 80s, although Bazaar at the QT changed that for me. So I was keen to see what Citrique, The Marriott’s refurbished restaurant’s $20 lunch special offered (yes I said $20!). I really enjoyed it!
The Marriott is looking pretty good after its refurb, they seem to have matched some of the modern changes with the old sandstone / plantation style very well. Some impressive lighting, new furniture, a great new area for businesspeople, an outdoor lawn sculpture feature, and a much better looking restaurant. In the restaurant itself there are some wonderful new light features in a modern light bright space, with some warm touches including bronze mosaic tiles, and a wall made of a stack of chopped (fire?) wood.
The $20 lunch special includes your choice of main from 5 options and access to their soup and salad bar, and home made ice cream bar (ah ice cream, one of my biggest weaknesses). Again, I was pretty cynical about the salad bar – are we talking pasta salad, bean salad and some green options or something a bit more contemporary? On the way through I took a quick look and saw some gourmet bread options and what looked like a great choice of salads.
Our party of 4 sat down and perused the menu. Note: if you check out the very last page of the lunch menu there are some good house wine specials for $5 a glass – the red was quite good. The service was warm and attentive – water glasses filled, the waiter asked if I would like the blind put down as the sun was on my back, then asked if I would like some slices of lime with my mineral water – impressive. For the mains, 3 of our party chose Salmon Fillet (the waiter asked how they would like it cooked which is a good sign), and I chose the Balinese Chicken.
So off to the salad bar. The soup of the day was a Tom Yum (although the name on the label was slightly different, not sure why?). I didn’t have any as (yes, sadly), due to pregnancy my appetite has been small. Some of our party enjoyed the soup and said it was a good clear broth with authentic flavours and nice and spicy. I noted the bread options, about 8-10 different kinds of breads which all looked fresh, rustic and amazing (e.g. olive,thyme and feta focaccia style loaf). However, as we all know, it’s not a good idea to fill up on bread at a buffet, so I reluctantly moved on.
The salad bar consists of a make your own Caesar corner complete with pre-cut smoked chicken and smoked salmon (yum). Also there is a large array of antipasto available including feta, grilled vegies, olives, pickles, mustards and some green salad options. My favourite though, was the pre-mixed salads. Highlights included a Japanese crab, ginger and cucumber salad, a Fennel, orange, dill and asparagus salad, a proscuitto and rockmelon salad, and a sweet potato, almond, leek and basil salad. All super fresh and delicious with perfectly combined flavours. Certainly not your average salad bar.
Our mains arrived whilst we were still finishing our entrees, but I didn’t think this was a problem. My chicken was a leg coated in a light Balinese peanut and coconut chilli. Not spicy, a light pleasant flavour, I think it could’ve used some pickles or something as an accompaniment to liven it up a bit. I’m unfortunately a bit squeamish about meat on the bone, so I ate a wee bit then passed the rest to Sime. We both agreed it was a nice dish but not a stand out, but for $20 I was happy.
My 3 companions all enjoyed the salmon which was cooked perfectly as requested – medium. It came with some asparagus, bearnaise (I think – sorry?) sauce and a potato au gratin. Everyone enjoyed the dish and said it was a good combination of flavours.
After a bit of a rest after our mains, we hit the ice cream bar. The restaurant host had informed us that the ice cream was home made by the pastry chef – yum! There were 6 varieties of ice cream on offer – vanilla, English toffee, cookies and cream, macadamia, strawberry and chocolate. I have to say, I tried 5 of them ;). Accompanying the ice cream is a host of options including hot home made sauces like butterscotch, chocolate, sour cherry compote and rhubarb and apple compote – all of these were delicious. Also some cold sauces including chocolate, balsamic strawberry and white chocolate with berries – again, all wonderful. The other thing available to top of your sundae is your choice of M&Ms, crushed peanuts, crushed macadamias, and white and milk chocolate flakes. I made two visits to the ice cream bar – save room people!
Overall we really enjoyed our lunch, it’s such good value that I recommend it and will be going back. The restaurant was pretty busy with a number of large tables and the service and quality of food on the buffet didn’t suffer at all. This is the second time I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a buffet. This doesn’t mean I’m rushing off to Sizzler any time soon, just that I’ll try to keep a bit more of an open mind about them in future.
Loo Review: A lot of restaurants, shops and hotels don’t refurb their loos when they undertake a full refurb (I’m talking about you Myer Pacific Fair, yuk!). Thankfully the Marriott has extended the attention to detail to the bathroom. Very clean, modern and fresh looking – 8/10. Sime said the men’s loo was actually impractical and dangerous as the space is so small so he gave it a 2/10.