The restaurant is very open and is huge inside, with the marble ceilings about 10 metres high. The view out onto the Yarra river is beautiful. The place looks great, from the table to the cutlery.
The service was ok, with plates removed efficiently. The drinks waiter wasn't very good though. Having been seated, he asked us what we wanted to drink but didn't even bother to give us a drinks menu. When I asked for the drinks menu, he only provided one. Was it too hard to give one drinks menu to everyone? Hmmmm.
I used to love eating at the Conservatory and despite the expensive price for this modestly paid engineer, still felt it was value for money because you were getting quality food. However, the standards seemed to have dropped dramatically, or my own personal standards have gone up too much. I think its the standard of the food that has gone down. There was hardly any hot food that I liked at all. My favourite from previously, the beautifully tender roast beef was nowhere to be seen.
What most people come for is the seafood buffet. The oysters were nice but a few weren't too fresh. I loved the yabbies previously but again, nowhere to be seen. Given that they may be seasonal, I'll let them go on that one. However, the blue swimmer crab was atrocious. They were definitely not fresh and most of the meat had gone almost runny. I cracked one of the legs and the meat totally spurted out like water. This happens when you cook the crabs a while ago and leave them in the fridge. I have done this before at home and that's the results. So possibly, some of the crabs were from previous days. I tried quite a few pieces and the results were the same. The prawns were the only saving grace and were still sweet and juicy.
My favourite part of most meals is the dessert. Again, I was let down by the quality of the desserts. The cakes were still ok but not of the quality of previously. The cooked-on-demand crepes had disappeared. My beloved rum and raisin ice cream was gone. The 7 flavours of exotic ice cream had dropped to four, plain vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and something else I forget.
The chocolate fountain was still there at least, but had been moved from centre stage where everyone used to love crowding around it to a lonely place in the corner where no one even bothered walking over to. That's a shame since it was also fun to see people dispense the chocolate onto a variety of different things and the obligatory person who dispensed it straight into their mouth.
Either by coincidence, or probably due to the stastical nature of probability in that reducing numbers will result in less favourable choices (we're in a casino after all, I have to talk about probability), all the foods that I loved were all gone. The roast beef was replaced by cheap sausages, the yabbies were gone, the crepes were gone, the rum and raisin ice cream replaced by vanilla. I no longer feel the buffet is good value for money as I used to. I might go back occasionally since its still better than other buffets, but won't be going too often due to the price.
If I had rated this place previously, I would have given it 15, but this time I have dropped my rating.
Overall Rating: 12/20, Food not as good as previously but still good. Value for money has dropped since the quality and choice of food is not as great anymore.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.