I couldn’t let the New Year begin without a trip out for brunch.
Lydia and I polished off a bottle of prosecco and a fair few Ferrero Rochers as we saw in the New Year with Rory and then an hour later with my family via various technological mediums as we decided on where to go for lunch.
A quick Google search yielded some promising results and we set off in search of brunch. There was however a slight hitch that became increasingly apparent as we trundled along Chapel Street: no where was open.
With our first choice closed we tried out luck at several more brunch holes to no avail before finally stumbling upon Orange.
Not having found a bad spot to brunch in Melbourne, so far, we thought we’d continue our winning streak and ducked inside to find a table.
It didn’t seem to be particularly busy when we arrived, although the staff seemed to be rushing about, but there was a nice atmosphere to the place and after a glance at the menu, it seemed like a good shout. The cafe itself went back much further than we could see; it seemed to be an old shop with property to the back that had all been converted into this bustling Chapel Street restaurant. We were sat in what seemed to be the old stock room and after a few minutes were served some water and given some menus.
Another table came in around the same time as we did, but barely noticing we settled in to enjoy the music and peruse the menu.
The atmosphere was lovely: the music fitted the mood, sort of jazzy, and there was a nice amount of noise with it being over bearing – it was a cafe full of people talking and laughing and enjoying themselves, the normal glorious hustle and bustle of a well populated coffee shop.
It was lucky the atmosphere was so lovely, because we were about to spend a long time at Orange.
When you go to a new restaurant, there’s always some uncertainty about how to order, worries that are usually quelled pretty quickly as the front of house staff take the lead, but here we were waiting long enough we began to question the ordering procedure. Just as we were about to go up to the bar and order, 20 minutes after sitting down, someone finally came to take our order.
I went for the same thing I always have for brunch: eggs Benedict and a mocha.
Another 20 minutes later our coffees arrived. By this point I’d completely forgotten we’d ordered them and was overly gracious to the chap serving us, thinking they were a complimentary beverage to compensate for our wait. My brain soon kicked in and I remembered it was in fact part of our order and I took a big welcome sip of the coffee.
The mocha itself was delicious; I was in the mood for something slightly sweeter and this really hit the spot today. The coffee was smooth, not too bitter and really complimented the chocolate in the mocha: milk steamed fantastically, it was a nice sweet creamy texture without being overbearing or sickly.
We slowly sipped our drinks, seeing food being taken out as the minutes ticked by, with no sign of plates destined for our table. Drinks finally finished, we were beginning to get incredibly hungry and it dawned on us how long we’d been waiting for our food.
A quick glance at the time and it had been nearly an hour since we were first seated.
Ten more minutes ticked by. After some furtive looking around and a lot of gazing longingly at other tables plates, our food finally arrived. By this point I was so hungry I began to wolf it down, barely remembering to take a photo before I got stuck in.
I’m sorry to say I was completely disappointed.
The presentation itself was entirely lacking. It needed a little something else on the plate to bring the whole dish together: it just looked plain and lack lustre and not worth waiting an hour for. Bracing myself for greatness I cut into my eggs only to be visibly disappointed, finding my yolks were nearly cooked all the way through, not a runny yolk in sight.
At this point, the only direction was down.
The hollandaise lacked flavour, it was bland, with the only taste to hit my palate that of butter. The muffins were nice, toasted to my taste, but there was far too much ham; it entirely overpowered the rest of the dish, leaving you with the texture of egg and muffin in your mouth with only the taste of smoked ham. It was nice ham, don’t get me wrong, but there was entirely too much of it.
The worst thing was, despite my disappointment, I was so hungry I scoffed the lot.
What I should have done was sent it back to the kitchen and left.
I’ve worked in hospitality; I appreciate that you get shifts from hell when there’s only one of you on the floor, the kitchen is having a melt down, you’re short staffed and the restaurant is full.
I rarely complain in a restaurant unless I think there’s a damn good reason, because I’ve been there, complaints are never nice, especially when you’re on the receiving end of them and a lot of the time you can clearly see where the problems lie. You never know what’s going on behind the waitresses smiles and it can be a really hard job, but the speed of service was entirely unacceptable.
Yes it was New Year’s Day, but if you anticipate it might be busy, get a few extra bodies on the floor. We weren’t given any indication of how long our food would take, let alone that it would be upwards of an hour, this was an occasion where something needed to be said.
After finishing our brunches and waiting a further ten minutes, I decided to just head to the bar and talk directly to someone there, while we paid. Granted I wasn’t doing anything else today and further waiting at the table wasn’t going to make much of a difference, but we’d spent most of our time at Orange waiting and I wanted to get walking again.
There is a right way to deal with complaints and a wrong way and today I copped the tail end of what was clearly a stressful shift.
I politely said I appreciated New Years Day was a busy one, but I was disappointed we had to wait over an hour for our food, with no indication the wait would be so long, I was met with defensive and hostile response.
They’d had to turn away so many people today already and that’s just the way it goes sometimes, there was nothing they could do about it today.
I wasn’t about to get into it with him, but when you go out to eat you expect a certain level of service and that most certainly wasn’t delivered here, today. I wasn’t looking for a discount or money off my bill, I was just telling them they weren’t up to scratch, one to prepare them for potential future complaints and two because to effectively run a shift, you need to know where you’re coming up short and more often than not the best people to tell you that are your customers.
He clearly thought I just wanted a discount.
There were a few more moments of cyclic discussion that was going nowhere as I tried to pay and the disgruntled worker attempted to feign neutrality.
The Bottom Line
Even if we hadn’t had to wait over an hour for our food, it still wasn’t that impressive. My hollandaise was bland and lacking and the overall combination of flavours on the plate was poorly balanced: it needed a finishing touch that it just didn’t have. Even taking the day into consideration the service was incredibly slow and the poor girl who seemed to be running the floor could have definitely used one of the three people behind the bar’s help (I am of course speculating, I have no idea how the shifts are run so it’s wrong of me to comment that they could ‘just help’). There was one point where we considered walking out and the reaction to my feedback was hostile and defensive.
The one redeeming feature was that the mocha was delicious, despite how long we had to wait for it.