Coco’s Sunday Brunch, The Sebel Cairns
Last Sunday I attended a friend’s birthday brunch at Coco’s Restaurant at The Sebel in the city. I have long said that this particular buffet, though expensive, is the best in town. Alas this is no longer the case. I have observed the price rise of the buffet over the years from $40 odd dollars including alcohol to their current pricing ($58 per person without the drinks or $70 with the drinks). The buffet includes seafood (crab, prawns, bugs and oysters) as well as hot and cold dishes and the delectable dessert bar. The drinks package includes selected cocktails (margaritas, mango and strawberry daquiris), sparkling wine and soft drinks, although the alcohol content of the cocktails is questionable but with the amount of food that one normally eats at a buffet alcohol intoxication isn’t really a factor.
MS and I arrived at The Sebel, which is a beautiful hotel I might add. There was live music playing and while we waited in line to pay for our buffet we were offered a glass of champagne (whoops I mean sparkling wine). We both chose the $58 non-drinking package which didn’t seem to matter because the staff continued to top up my glass of sparkling wine long after I placed it down in front of me at the table. This was much to my detriment later on in the afternoon as I wasn’t feeling too great following my 4 or 5 glasses of sparkling. I certainly wasn’t complaining about the free refills at the time. MS and I sat down at the table, did the introductions and then waited the obligatory 56 seconds or so before we raced to the buffet. I went straight to the seafood while MS, well… who knows I wasn’t paying any attention because I was consumed with the pile of bugs and oysters in front of me. First things first, I know my seafood. Lets just say my parents have owned a seafood business since I was just a twinkle in their eye so I do know what I am talking about and if I don’t I just ask my dad. After dreaming about oysters since having the most amazing oysters of my life on Christmas Day (they were NZ oysters) I was finally going to get my fill of them again. Initially I was most disappointed with the size of the oysters. They were small. Tiny. Minute. Nothing compared to the delicious oysters that I had been fantasising about or had recently consumed. Size isn’t everything though. I piled a few oysters on my plate, grabbed two bug halfs, a handful of prawns (with tongs might I add) and took my seat at the table. I am all for oysters being small as long as they taste good but these didn’t. They didn’t taste nice. I don’t want to go on and on about the oysters but good, fresh seafood is so important! I asked one of the waiters where the oysters were from and he informed me they were from Tasmania. I’ll wrap up my oyster rant with this… It’s no wonder so many people don’t eat oysters because I wouldn’t either if I had only ever tried oysters that tasted like these ones. Now I’m going to move onto the bugs. The bugs were overcooked and tough. Not sweet and juicy like bugs should be. I wasn’t the only one that noticed the distasteful bugs. On a lighter note there were two types of prawns available at the buffet – tigers and endeavours – and these were delicious but for someone who had intended on dining on almost nothing but bugs and oysters at the buffet I was reduced to look elsewhere on the buffet for a feed after my disappointing seafood encounter.
Further down at the hot buffet station there was the usual breakfast fare… English Muffin Eggs Benedict (the eggs were runny mind you – HALLELUJAH), Bacon, Chipolatas, Frittata and Raspberry and White Chocolate Pancakes. Other dishes at the hot buffet station included Roast Lamb, Salmon, Chicken Laksa, Pork (with crackling), Steamed Vegetables and Soup. The Roast Lamb was amazing but then again isn’t all Roast Lamb amazing? I think I actually went back for thirds of the lamb. The pork was dry but then again, most pork is dry. That is really all I helped myself to at the Hot Buffet section and spent the rest of my time in the salad section eating things like the Mushroom, Goats Cheese and Red Onion Tart and the White Anchovies that someone had left just for me near the ‘make your own’ Caesar Salad’ section. I’m pretty sure the website calls this the ‘Sushi and Salad Bar’ but there was no Sushi there on this particular day much to my dismay.
Because it was a friends birthday there was birthday cake so I only had a tiny taste of the desserts that were on offer. The dessert display looks amazing and the pastry chef at Coco’s Restaurant really does know how to make some enticing desserts. Unfortunately I only managed to try the Coconut Pannacotta since the guilt of eating Chocolate Ganache birthday cake as well as Cheesecake, Frangipane Tart and other yummy desserts had caught up with me, along with the 3 or 4 plates of food I had already eaten and the disapproving looks from MS.
The last time I had Sunday brunch at The Sebel was almost a year ago and I found it to be a little disappointing then. When I say disappointing I mean everything other than the seafood was delicious however the seafood just isn’t up to the standard that it used to be so I hardly ate any this time around. But lets be honest here it’s really not worth paying a minimum of $58 if you are not going to eat the seafood. The service is fantastic and you never have an empty glass or a dirty plate in front of you and I guess the service is part of what you are paying with the hefty price tag. It seems to me that the standard of food at Coco’s Restaurant has taken a bit of a turn for the worse since Mirvac Hotels took over from the Cairns International Hotel and it then became The Sebel. It is important to note that they are serving Australian Seafood and not the imported crap but I’m still not feeling it. So in my opinion the Sunday Brunch buffet at Coco’s Restaurant is no longer the Best Seafood Buffet in Cairns and for now the title is up for grabs. Any takers?
17 Abbott St, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4050 2101
Opening Hours: Every Sunday 11.30am – 2.30pm