Sugar Hit - Park Hyatt

Saturday, October 28, 2006

After several failed attempts, I finally managed to snare a reservation at the Park Hyatt to sample their Sugar Hit. Yay, me! I had been looking forward to this Sugar Hit since Wednesday:

Chocolate and saffron infused poached pear, milk chocolate and caramel crème brulee, and white chocolate and coconut parfait
Saturday night parking at The Rocks is serious business and we considered ourselves lucky to nab a space near the Sydney Dance Theatre. It was a decent walk but the night breeze was refreshing and KB was quite happy to skip along the sidewalk so it wasn't a problem.

We arrived at the Park Hyatt a little after 9pm. I was expecting to be seated at the littlekitchen, but we were directed to a lovely table in the restaurant. KB was seated in a wooden high chair, which was great - I didn't have to act as a human shield between him and the cutlery...and the glassware...and the candle. Although he made quite a valiant attempt to blow out the candle from the other side of the table.

Sadly, the service was just downhill from there. KB kept me amused with his antics and so wasn't until Rob started grumbling that I realised we had been kept waiting. For a very long time. You know it's bad when your toddler looks around with a concerned expression and asks, "Where dessert?" No amount of polite head-straining could stop a waiter. We just couldn't make eye contact with any of them. Rob watched in annoyance as a table of four at the end of the room, who had been seated after us, enjoyed their cool drinks and what looked to be...dessert!

Finally, Rob had to pretty much raise his voice to get the waiter's attention and he told her in a very grave tone that we had been waiting for 20 minutes and watched other people being served, without so much as being offered any drinks. The waiter was suitable apologetic, service picked up considerably, and our Sugar Hits arrived within about 10 minutes.

Sugar Hit @ Park Hyatt - $15

Unfortunately, by this time we were both stressed - having argued over grumpy dining companions, slow service and general dissatisfaction with the world - and increasingly concerned that KB's good cheer would not last long once we passed the late bedtime threshold of 9:30pm. It did help that the waiters were very attentive now, and the maitre'd came over to apologise for keeping us waiting. Rob was quite easily appeased, although I still felt flustered. It's difficult being out so late with a toddler because you know that once you hit a certain time, you're facing all sorts of horrors that you'd rather not have to live through - tantrums, boredom, hyperactivity from sleep deprivation, dirty nappies - any of which are likely to cause an abrupt and probably noisy end to the night.

But back to dessert...

The parfait was delicious and I didn't really taste the coconut flavour at all. There was a lot of chocolate syrup so it ended up tasting a lot more chocolatey than it was probably meant to. KB loved it, though. He refused to eat anything else. Unfortunately, the parfait melted very quickly so I had to eat it first, by default. I would have preferred a much more solid construction because I think the flavour would have come out a bit better.

The wine was surprisingly yummy. I was expecting it to taste the same as all the dessert wines served at the other Sugar Hits I'd been to but for some reason, I found the wine not so sickeningly sweet this time around. It was really, really lovely - neither overpowering nor insipid.

The maitre'd approached us to apologise once again, then came back to ask us if there was anything she could do to make up for the initial stuff up. We were happy to accept her offer of flat whites. Hey, this is a coffee blog after all. :-)

The downside to all the attention was that our dessert was interrupted a few times. I felt quite rushed as the parfait melted and KB started showing signs of overtiredness. Stress before dessert is really not recommended.

The poached pear was suprisingly good. I say this because I am by no means a lover of pears. In fact, I usually find them bland and uninspiring. But this...this was lovely. I could kind of see the saffron but couldn't taste the chocolate at all. The pear sat on what I assume was either cream or mascarpone - if I hadn't been so focused on keeping KB amused, I probably could have taken some time to pay it a little bit more attention - and the amount on the plate was just right for the cute little pear.

I left the crème brulee for last. I was surprised to find it somewhat...pedestrian after the more subtle flavours of the pear and even the parfait. It was very sweet - dare I say it, perhaps too sweet? - but it earned points for having a relatively crackly cap, which is my favourite part of the crème brulee.

In the midst of all this came our free coffees and what I'm going to guess were brandy snap-ish pieces. This will sound pretty shameful for a food blog but I don't know what the nuts were! Honestly, I was so distracted it was all I could do to pay enough attention to whether or not I liked what was going in my mouth. Actually, if I concentrate really hard...I think they were macadamias. Yes, macadamias. Lock it in, Eddie. *phew*

I ended up stuffing myself with the brandy snaps. There was something about them that made me want to pick another one up and stuff it in my mouth. Or maybe the Filipino in me just couldn't bear to waste all the freebies we were given. *grin*

When KB started devising ways to get out of his high chair - "Stuck, Mama, stuck!" - we knew it was time to leave before we traumatised the people at the next table (who, incidentally, had been waiting for about 20 minutes without so much as a follow-up from a waiter). But again, our turtle impersonations and subtle attempts at eye contact got us nowhere with the wait staff. Fortunately, KB found us a waiter, who stopped by to flirt with him. While she was telling KB how gorgeous he was, Rob quickly asked for the bill.

The bill arrived fairly quickly and the freebies were indeed free, which was great. But in what seemed to be the theme for the night, we couldn't snare a waiter long enough to hand them a credit card. After about 5 minutes, I just walked over and handed it to one of the wait staff.

Later, Rob and I would muse over the fact that they interrupted us at least 3 times over dessert to ask us if everything was OK, but every time we actually needed some service, they were nowhere to be found. His theory is that their service is so personalised that for people like us, who are only there for dessert, lack of dedicated wait staff means that you're likely to be overlooked. I'm not sure if this would have happened had we been seated at the littlekitchen.

I'd love to come back for dinner one day. I cast very longing looks at some of the meals being served to people around us - and with all the waiting we had to do, I saw a lot of plates pass by. The portions were very generous and Rob said they smelled wonderful.

I was really disappointed that I couldn't enjoy this Sugar Hit more due the poor start we had. I do think that in terms of taste, it might well have been the best so far. For a tasting plate, I think it's pretty hard to beat. The flavours were subtle and there was enough variety and volumen to make it worth the spend.

Because I couldn't relax properly enough to savour my experience at the Park Hyatt, the Sofitel still gets my vote for best Sugar Hit. Rob is also sticking by the Sebel, which is really interesting because I have a feeling he remembers that night fondly more because of the company and conversation than the dessert itself. Which just goes to show what a difference good service and great conversation can make.

Park Hyatt Sugar Hit
7 Hickson Rd, The Rocks
02 9256 1437

For a round-up of Good Food Month in blogland, go and visit CucinaRebecca.
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