>Langham Hotel, Southbank, Melbourne
It was Mena’s birthday. Lee organised a family lunch to celebrate. The Langham on Southbank is a favourite Sunday lunch destination for lots of families, and we were one of a number of family celebrations.
Dressed in our Sunday best, we met at one o’clock. Some of us had been reading the menu for weeks – some of us (well, me) were afraid of becoming too obsessed, so made do with a turn of the buffet counters to get prepared. I didn’t know where to start.
Seafood seemed the right place to start, washed down with a glass of bubbly. The king prawns were plump and juicy, but the cocktail sauce could have been a little spicier. Then Lee found Peking Duck pancakes, so there was a run on them. Orlando tucked into the sushi as well.
The Indian buffet counter looked good, so I got the chef to make me a keema naan while I watched, and filled my plate with lamb korma, potato and pea curry and mixed pickle. It was delicious. I ate slowly, relishing every mouthful, and washing everything down with more sparkling wine.
The thing I didn’t know was that it all finished at 3pm. I was sitting back, tasting a morsel of this and a sample of that. Then somebody said it was last orders. I’d not realised we were on the clock. Whilst I would like to say that the focus was firmly on my sister and her birthday, the reality was that we pretty much only talked about food. It’s what we do. We love it.
But suddenly it was all hands on deck. I could have eaten more if I’d had time to digest a little – why does a buffet bring out the avarice in everyone? Amy and Orlando hit the chocolate bar whilst Mena sensibly rescued a cheese plate for us all to share. I felt a bit like I was back in Butlins and we had to vacate the dining room for the second sitting. But I ordered a nice glass of Galway Pipe tokay, tucked into the cheese and ignored everything.
All in all, it was a lovely afternoon. Easy company, great views, anything you wanted to eat, all freshly cooked. But next time I would arrive at twelve or twelve-thirty: by the time we get the chat out of the way and order the wine, it would be just time enough to eat. Then there would be no hurry!