The Conservatory Restaurant – the Arboretum

On Saturday morning, I ventured out to the Arboretum to have breakfast at The Conservatory Restaurant with my brother and his partner. It was a rainy miserable day, but this view is beaten by none – even on a bad day:

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We arrived just as the main centre opened, and because it was so early (9am) the whole Arboretum was pretty much empty – it was very peaceful to stand and stare at the view without screaming kids and stupid tourists. We entered the main centre and headed towards the restaurant, located in a corner of the large open room. The restaurant is simply decorated, but is easily distinguished from the kiosk on the other side of the fence. We had a couple of people pull out of breakfast, so we waited for the staff to rearrange the tables and sat down to a stunning view.

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We ordered our drinks and our breakfasts from a lovely waitress who asked a thousand questions about our orders; what kind of milk did I want with my Earl Grey (skim, please) and how did my brother want his fried eggs (sunny side up and slightly firm). 10,000 points to her.

Our meals came out relatively quickly, although we noted that other people around us have gotten their coffees, despite ordering after us.

C and I both ordered the exact same thing – son-in-law eggs with a side of bacon.

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The son-in-law eggs are two crispy deep fried poached eggs, perfectly gooey in the middle. It’s a really cool difference from the stock standard poached egg, and I loved the little crunchiness it added. The eggs are served on a sourdough, which unfortunately was far too chewy in the middle and over cooked on the outside – I think I developed Schwarzenegger level arms while attempting to cut the bread with my knife and fork. The eggs are sprinkled with caramel chilli, coriander and shallots. The coriander was limp and stingy, but the chilli and the shallots were fresh and added a great oomph to the dish. There is a side sauce that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, at first I thought it tasted like Laksa, but then C decided it tasted like the dipping sauces you get with spring rolls – either way it was a flavour powerhouse and went really well with the eggs.

The bacon was flavoursome and thick, but severely under cooked. It was like eating ham, which is fine if you want ham, but I wanted bacon!

A ordered their version of a big breakfast – the Francis Bacon and the Eggs. Love the name!

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The Francis Bacon and the eggs consists of 2 eggs, bacon, chipolata, boudin noir (blood sausage) baked beans (A omitted these from his order), roasted tomato, mushrooms and hashbrowns. Pretty much everything you can think of – it was definitely a big plate of food!

A raved about the hashbrown and he was happy with the way his eggs were cooked. He said he was rather surprised that he enjoyed the blood sausage, despite having never eaten it before. Sadly, he too was disappointed in the undercooked bacon.

Half way through our meal I went to the front of the restaurant to enquire about our drinks and am informed that the café has something of a backup of drink orders, because they’re really busy and our drinks would be out soon. Everyone in the restaurant has got their drinks before us, and there’s not that many people in the café to warrant any backlog…

After not much time at all, our drinks finally came out, only I have no milk for my tea and C has an iced coffee, instead of an ice chocolate – which he drank anyway because he didn’t want to wait for the chocolate to be remade.

And then as we were finishing up our meals, our drinks came. Again. The look on the waiters face was absolutely gold…he went to put down my tea and there was already a tea pot there, then he looked between his tray and the table a few times in confusion before the penny dropped. And hey, there was C’s chocolate. Our theory is that they lost our docket, made us the drinks based on memory, and then someone else found the docket afterwards.

Either way, The Conservatory staff took the drinks off our order altogether so we didn’t have to pay for them anyway! I did protest, because C had drunk his drink anyway…but it was a nice gesture, and we appreciated it.

We were served by many different people at The Conservatory, but they were all polite and friendly and helpful.

I’d recommend this restaurant for a breakfast with something different – the view is worth it alone. The food is good (just gotta cook that bacon longer!) and the staff are nice.

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