“Weekend Foodtrail” at Melbourne International Airport

I booked a return airfare for my partner and I six months ago with Air Asia X, a low cost carrier based in Malaysia. It was during their zero fare promotion. The fare only costs us a fuel and tax surcharge, and administration fees. The total fare was AUD$260 returned Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur. It is the cheapest fare I have ever booked! What a bargain, right? But there is a catch. The flight time is ridiculous – departs in the early hour past midnight. But, hey! It is cheap!

Anyway, to catch our flight in Melbourne to Kuala Lumpuer, I had to book a return flight to Melbourne from Hobart. The last flight out of Hobart is scheduled at 8:25 pm. I didn’t want to take the last flight out of Hobart. Just in case, there is a delay or the flight is cancelled due to technical problem with the aircraft. Such unfortunate travel nightmare had happened in the past. I don’t wish to be a part of the statistic. So, I booked an earlier flight at 5 pm. We had 6 hours transit time in Melbourne.

Our 5 pm flight departed Hobart on time. We arrived in Melbourne with ample time. What should we do? How do we kill 6 hours of transit time? We thought of going into Melbourne CBD for a nice dinner. But after finding how much it would cost to leave our luggages at the airport and the return fare from airport to CBD, we changed our mind. We opt for a leisure stroll next to the airport – The Hilton International Airport Hotel. We have been there on our last trip and had a nice experience with the food and service. We played safe and chose to have a relaxed meal at Hilton’s only restaurant in the lobby area, with a lounge and bar sections – called the “Airo”. Mind you, there is nothing nice and decent food at the Melbourne International Airport. So if you are stuck at the airport and need a place to go – Airo is the place to be.

We left our luggages at the Front Desk. Made our way to the restaurant. One of the staff, May saw us. She recognised us immediately. She was delighted to see us again. She have seen us only once. That was in October 2009 when she served our table. It was very nice to be welcomed back. That is what I call a great hospitality and service, and someone that really understand and love hospitality business.

We sat down at a table towards the end of the restaurant. The place is bright and nothing glitzy like a Hilton city hotel. It is functional with an open kitchen. We looked through the menu. I mentioned to my partner that we need to spend 3 – 4 hours here before making our way back to the airport. So we have plenty of time.

We chose an entree each.

I had grilled Morton Bay Bugs in Thai red curry with crisps leeks and herbs. The bugs were nicely grilled. Meat was tender and fresh. The curry sauce works well in the dish. I was a bit worry the sauce may overwhelmed the lovely seafood. But, it didn’t. It blended in nicely with a nice Thai flavour of sweetness and spicyness together with the herbs. 

My partner ordered a spring rabbit confit with spinach and ricotta ravioli, fresh thyme dressed in olive and butter sauce. This was an awesome dish! It was actually very, very good! There were good generous portion of rabbit confit with homemade ravioli. My only criticism is that the sauce may be a bit over dressed with olive oil. Otherwise, this dish was very tasty and delicious.

We asked the waitress to give us some time before we embarked on the next course. We thought we will share another entree. Something light and refreshing. We chose Capress salad with dried Roma tomatoes, fresh oregano, morzarella, corse lettuce in olive oil. The salad was nicely chilled before being served. So it was refreshing and light as I would have imagined.

After our second course, we initially thought we will order another entree each. Almost like crafting our own little degustation dinner. But my partner was not gamed. And, he was almost full to the bream. So I chose a main course dish. Asked the waitress to bring two empty plates so my partner can share if he wanted.

The main course that I chose was a Kofta curry chicken dish – free range chicken meat balls flavoured with cardamom, red chili and coriander in medium to hot curry served with basmati rice. This was a very lovely curry dish. The basmati rice was fluffy and light. The curry was not too spicy. Chicken meat balls was beautifully flavoured with chopped coriander and cardamom. I like the freshness of julienne ginger garnishes that gave a nice kick when chewed with the chicken meat ball. My partner was supposed to be full. But he managed to eat half of this main dish! Talking about being full!

Now we were really full. We asked to move our table to the lounge area so we can make ourself more comfortable and cosy. The lounge tub chair is huge, soft and comfortable. We ordered some coffee and tea. To finish up a nice dinner, I ordered a dessert to share. It was okay, but not as great as the entree and main. I ordered the chocolate parfait and hazlenut mousse with fresh strawberries, and raspberry crispy.

We had an enjoyable dinner at Airo. A great way to spend while waiting for our 1:25 am flight to Kuala Lumpur.

So next time if you are stuck at the Melbourne International Airport, why not make your way to Airo for a nice meal. Make sure you look out for May. She is one of the most sweet, hospitable staff I have met.

5 responses to ““Weekend Foodtrail” at Melbourne International Airport

  1. Hi Victor!We’ve stayed at the Hilton Melb Airport and the restaurant’s good with friendly staff – a convenient place when flying late/early. My nephew just got back from Bangkok on Asia Air…amazing price. Hope you & your partner have a wonderful trip!

    • Cheers, Mary.

      It is an alright airline. There is the long haul Air Asia X, but they compromise passengers comfort with really small and hard seats. I read they are going to over haul all the seats to slightly bigger. We found it extremely difficult to sleep in the overnight flight. The other one is Air Asia for short haul domestic and international – they are much better with slightly bigger and better leather seats. I will never fly Air Asia X again until they upgrade all their seats. Better choice are Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

  2. Oh Victor! How painful…you must have been relieved to get off and sink into your hotel bed…luxury. ‘No such thing as a cheap flight’. Have fun!

  3. Those tempted to book flights to/from Asia on AirAsiaX, be careful.

    Most recently, my wife and I were stranded in Abu Dhabi when AirAsiaX announced they were canceling service to/from Abu Dhabi in January this year. They didn’t notify us, their stranded passengers, until Feb 10th. Neither did they offer any accommodation nor answer our emails asking for help. We had to get back to Malaysia on our own. They won’t reimburse our added expense either.

    • Paulk – that is awful and must be extremely frustrating for you and your wife. Travelers worst nightmare!
      In my earlier comment, I have vowed not to take AA-X again until they refitted all their seats. Guess what? When we flew back from KL to Melb, we were the lucky ones on the plane with the newly fitted seats. I was splendidly pleased. It is much comfortable, slightly wider and slightly more leg room, and it reclines back. I was also surprise that the crew were the best ever. They were professional, nicely groomed and service was good. Both my flights from Penang to KL and KL to Melb were on time.
      So, will I fly AA-X again? Probably not now. But maybe in 2011. They have a lot to do to improve on their long haul international flights. But most recent experience coming home shows they can do it and still offer the best price.

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