Weekend at the Hyatt – Part 1

Continuing on from the previous post…

Our hotel room

None of the complaints we had about the hotel were catastrophic by any means, but put together, the little annoyances left us disappointed, with a very poor impression of the hotel. Keep in mind the Hyatt is supposed to be a five-star hotel. Based on our experience, I won’t be recommending the Hyatt Regency Perth to anyone, and certainly won’t be rushing back.

Windows that open… but not by you!

Whenever I make a hotel reservation for us, I try to book a room that has a balcony. Jac hates feeling like she’s stuck in a box and likes to be able to easily step “outside” in the fresh air. The rooms at the Hyatt do not have balconies, but on the list of room features was “windows that open”. This sounded fine to Jac, and so I went ahead and booked us a River View King Room.

When I arrived on the Saturday afternoon, however, I was dismayed to find that the windows did not open. Was this a mistake? Were there rooms with windows that opened, and rooms with windows that did not? Should I have specifically requested windows that opened, even though that was on the list of room features? Would Jac’s enjoyment of the weekend be diminished because we were now in a room with windows that did not open? Damn, damn, damn. I examined the windows again and noticed that one panel – not the whole window – had screws which could presumably be removed with a screwdriver, to “open” the “window”. But of course I didn’t have a screwdriver. I rang Reception to ask about the “windows that open”.

I was told yes, the windows did open. If I wished to have our window opened, I would have to sign for it to be opened – the hotel always got guests to sign to have the windows opened, just in case we decided to jump out of them or something crazy (she did say this) – and Security would have to come up and open the window for us. I asked, “So once Security’s opened the window, it will remain open unless we get them to come back and close it for us?” The answer to that was yes. How stupid! Personally, I would not advertise a panel that could only be opened by Security and then would need to be “closed” again by Security as “windows that open”. In the end, we decided not to get the windows opened, as the temperature was quite cool and we didn’t want to call Security and then potentially have to call them again if we got cold (seeing as we wouldn’t be able to close the window ourselves).

Dinner at Chanterelle at Jessica’s

After making our reservation online a month ahead at the website for the Hyatt Regency Perth, the confirmation email included this:

We are excited about your upcoming visit and look forward to creating a memorable experience for you. We invite you to use Hyatt E-Concierge to make arrangements in advance for activities such as golf, tennis, spa, dining reservations, children’s programs, transportation and more. By making these plans in advance you will ensure that you can take advantage of the many services and amenities that Hyatt Regency Perth has to offer!

I decided to use the E-Concierge service and requested a booking for two for Chanterelle at Jessica’s, one of the restaurants at the Hyatt Centre, for 6pm on the Saturday night of our hotel stay. Why not, right? The service was included in the price of our stay after all.

Shortly after my request, I received a confirmation of our booking via email. Fantastic!

We were really looking forward to dinner on Saturday evening. But when we arrived at the restaurant, I was flabbergasted when we were informed that they had no record of our booking.
“I made the booking via the e-concierge at the Hyatt,” I said.
“We’re separate to the hotel, you know,” our host told us. “It’s not enough to just book with the hotel – they have to make the booking with us.”
I was well aware that the restaurant was not part of the hotel and did not really appreciate her hoity-toity tone.
“I realise that your restaurant is separate to the hotel,” I said patiently, “I did receive a confirmation from the hotel that the booking was made.”
I guess we were both feeling defensive, neither of us wanting the other to think she was at fault.
“Unfortunately, this happens all the time,” she said. “The hotel tells guests they’ve made the booking but they haven’t actually made any booking with us.”
By this time I was not so embarrassed any more; I was just pretty annoyed. But then, heart sinking, I asked if they could fit us in for dinner anyway, without a booking.
“Oh, that’s no problem,” she said.
Pheeeew. But not the greatest start.

Thankfully, the rest of the evening went very well.

Jac’s seafood tasting plate (AU$28.00) consisted of scallop terrine, gravlax (sugar-cured atlantic salmon), an oyster shooter, salmon tartar (delicately garnished with slices of cucumber and half a hard-boiled quail egg), a prawn, grilled scallops and a lightly dressed salad garnish. The oyster shooter consisted of an oyster in a shooter glass with lime juice and soy, a kind of Thai flavour. I tried some of the scallop terrine – it was smooth and mild in flavour, really quite lovely. Jac thought the seafood tasting plate was great, but the scallop terrine needed some sort of carbohydrate – some French bread or crackers, something to eat it with.

Seafood tasting plate

For my entree, I couldn’t go past the seared prawns in a garlic cream sauce, served with rice (AU$27.00). There were five prawns – maybe a touch undercooked, just below a perfect burstiness. I like a really garlicky sauce with garlic prawns – this was probably more cream than garlic, but a tasty sauce nonetheless. The rice, to be frank, wasn’t very good. It was dry on the outside and had been unnecessarily salted. I always think if you serve steamed rice with garlic prawns you don’t need to add extra flavour to the rice if the sauce is delicious enough. You enjoy eating the rice coated in the garlicky sauce – there’s no need for anything else. The unappealing texture of the rice suggested unsuccessful reheating. The cooked julienne vegetables on top of the rice were floppy and didn’t have much flavour. I wouldn’t say this was terrible, but it definitely wasn’t the best dish of garlic prawns I’ve ever had.

Garlic prawns

As an aside, on every table was a lamp that changed colour. When Jac went to the loo in between entree and main course, I took this quick video to show you. I was very impressed with how still I managed to hold the camera. :) The video ends when the waiter places Jac’s main course on the table.

For her main course, Jac ordered the BBQ ocean plate (AU$40.00), which consisted of salmon, snapper, tuna, scallops, prawns and squid with vegetables, rice and spinach in a dill butter sauce. In the centre of the plate was more of that dry, salty rice and the floppy bland julienne vegetables. Underneath the rice was cooked spinach, which was actually quite nice. On the side of the tower of rice were cooked vegetables: swede, courgette and carrot. Both tuna and salmon were nicely cooked – the tuna was slightly pink in the centre, the salmon moist and tender. The squid looked pretty enough but as is usually the case with fancy-cut curly squid, it was overcooked and chewy. I wish chefs wouldn’t bother with the curly squid effect – it doesn’t matter how “pretty” it looks – looks can’t mask overcooked squid the minute you sink your teeth into it. I’d much prefer a plain-looking but perfectly cooked piece of squid. This dish was not what Jac had expected for a “BBQ ocean plate” – the seafood was nice, but she had expected it to have more of a barbecued or chargrilled flavour and presentation, and she’d certainly not expected the “barbecued” seafood to be sitting in a French-style sauce.

BBQ ocean plate

I ordered the King George whiting fried in crispy batter with fries and tartare sauce (AU$35.00). Yes – this was pretty much expensive fish and chips. I really enjoyed it for all its simplicity as the quality of the ingredients was so good. The fish was moist and tasted beautifully fresh beneath the crisp, light batter. The shoestring fries were crispy and I was pleased to see that the chef had not prematurely soggified the fries by placing the fish fillets on top of them. The tartare sauce was clearly homemade – rich, buttery and capery in flavour, absolutely gorgeous with the fish. It was so delicious that my dining companion kept helping herself to the tartare to eat with her seafood. :)

King George whiting with fries and tartare

We shared a rocket (spelled the French way on the menu, “roquette”; some of you will know this vegetable as arugula), pear and parmesan salad with balsamic dressing (AU$11.50). The pear was juicy and sweet and a perfect partner to the peppery rocket. The grated parmesan was unfortunately presented as too-small fragments that disappeared as soon as the salad was tossed through – I found myself wishing for bigger shards of shaved parmesan, as I couldn’t really taste the parmesan in the salad once the rocket and dressing buried those fragments.

Rocket, pear and parmesan salad

Instead of a hot coffee, Jac went for a cold coffee liqueur – Tia Maria on ice (AU8.50).

Tia Maria on ice

We were getting pretty full but had just enough room for a shared dessert – vanilla creme brulee with caramel ice cream (AU$14.00). Our waiter was a sweetie and brought us another nutty biscuit so that we could have one each. The brulee cracked satisfyingly when we tapped on it with our spoons, but beneath that, the creme part was not what we expected. I guess I’d been expecting and in the mood for a smooth and firm baked custard, but this was a whipped and sweetened fluffy cold cream rather than a baked custard. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted lovely, and the nutty biscuits were perfect for dunking and scooping out mouthfuls of that sweet creme. But I came away from eating this creme brulee still craving creme brulee. The caramel ice cream was not especially sweet, which was perfect – sometimes fancy desserts are composed of too many competing sweet flavours that become overwhelming, too rich and sickly sweet. This ice cream tasted like dark toffee rather than caramel, a harmonious flavour contrast to the sweet creme. Embedded in the biscuits, looking like an archaeological discovery unearthed in golden dessert sand, were thinly sliced peanuts, cashews and hazelnuts. Apart from the creme not being what we expected, we really enjoyed this dessert. We were glad we’d ordered only one dessert to share though; the creme brulee was surprisingly (and pleasingly, for the glutton at the table) large!

Vanilla creme brulee with caramel ice cream

We used our entertainment book discount to get 25% off the bill. Service was efficient and friendly, without being overly familiar or chatty – just what we like.
I love going out to dinner with Jac. We try each other’s meals, we talk about our opinions on our food, the service and the ambience, and just really enjoy each other’s company.

Chanterelle at Jessica’s is located at Shop 1 Hyatt Centre, Adelaide Terrace Perth.
Website: www.chanterelleatjessicas.com.au. Despite my criticisms above, I’d eat there again. I wouldn’t rush back though, as there are so many other restaurants in Perth to eat at and to try.

Back at our hotel room, we filled out the order card for breakfast room service and hung it on our door knob before going to bed. What would Sunday bring?

Read the next post – Weekend at the Hyatt – Part 2.

*EDIT – see my concluding post on this issue – Update on the Hyatt.

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