Monday, September 24, 2012

You make your own value at AYCE Meloty

Meloty on Urbanspoon I've been one step behind my afternoon-tea loving friend Emily this summer-that-sometimes-feels-like-fall, and basing my dine-outs on where she'd been. She had steered me right with Pâtisserie Für Elise, so when she was pleased with her experience at Meloty, I decided to give it a go; I'd also had positive feed back from another member of the Food Bloggers Meetup. Maybe the food changed since they last went, but, our Saturday outing was... lacklustre to put it kindly. But every place has some good and bad to it.

First, here's how the AYCE at Meloty works:
  1. Two-hour seating, plus $2 penalty for each item left uneaten.
  2. You are presented with two menu booklets. In one, you can choose a beverage to accompany your AYCE afternoon tea. The other menu has items you can order and pay for separately.
    • It doesn't have to be pots of tea -- you can get iced drinks as well.
    • Unlimited refills except for beer (maximum 3 glasses).
  3. They bring you your beverage.
  4. They bring you trays of savories.
    • Basically, it's a bunch of very simple sandwiches, one piece of everything for each person.
    • The quality is like what you can make at home, just prettier.
    • Just use your fingers. You'll mangle it if you use the knife and fork.
  5. They then offer you another tray of savories. You are free to decline and move on to desserts.
  6. There are three offerings of desserts, served individually.
    • Just pick what you want. Don't feel obliged to take anything if nothing immediately appeals to you -- Wait for the next trays to come out.
    • Some of this stuff looks worse than what you can get at a supermarket deli section. No, I'm not kidding.
  7. After you've seen and been offered everything, they come over to take additional orders of specific items. You can backtrack to anything you want, including savories. They do come back to take additional orders, and will stop only when your table stops ordering entirely.
  • Good: Beautiful on the inside, and good spacing to the tables. Washrooms also pleasantly clean and very nicely appointed.
  • Good: Your all-you-can-eat $30 afternoon tea comes with unlimited refills on drinks except beer (yes, you can choose beer! -- maximum 3 glasses).
  • Good: Croissants not shy on butter. Flaky and buttery. You can ask for them without anything inside (came as beef croissant sandwiches).
  • Good: Mini crème brûlée with vanilla bean. Definitely get this.
  • Bad: Overall, most items were supermarket deli quality. Some of the desserts hadn't been stored well (like the fruity cheesecakes) and presentation was very lacking. It's hard to say anything kind here when you're comparing it to afternoon tea everywhere else. The problem is that afternoon tea is part food, part ambiance. They have good ambiance here, but the poor food quality drags everything down.
  • Very Bad: They had burnt the otherwise fairly delicious mushroom pies (little squares of puff pastry with chopped mushrooms inside. The top was browned, but the bottom and edges were blackened. And they still served it to us. Twice.
    • Some of us ended up scraping off the bottom, but because they weren't shy on the butter, you can peel off the bottom layer quite cleanly -- taking just the flaky layer off, leaving the rest.
It's hard to complain when you are paying for an AYCE. After all, you can make up the value by just having all the stuff you enjoyed. Even if it's just one or two things. Just be prepared to do it, and don't be shy about it.
That said, it's kind of sad and telling when you don't feel enthused about anything to order more at an AYCE. That was my experience there (and to be fair, maybe I'm pickier than most) and I didn't feel that the experience I had at Meloty was a $30 afternoon tea. In quantity I did get more than any afternoon tea place, but I think I had hoped the quality would be better.

For $30 (more like $40 after tax and tip), I recommend you instead put together an enormous amount of sandwiches and cakes from Breka. Large selection, no tip required.

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