Canberra – Afternoon tea at the Hyatt

In Canberra I’m staying at The Hyatt Hotel on the government side of the city. The facility has a very interesting layout with a set of low-rise buildings connected to each other by a set of elegant courtyards with lush vegetation. It’s the winter here in Australia, so it’s still a bit too cold to sit outside. But in the summer it must be quite serene to sit out there with a cold drink under the shade of the many trees with a cold drink… or afternoon tea.

As the more regular readers to this blog have probably already figured out, I really love having afternoon tea. I’m fully aware of the fact that the British have a lot to answer for as far as their colonial history goes – but I do think that they should also be commended for the invention of afternoon tea and its contribution to just making people happy in general through the power of food.

The afternoon tea at The Hyatt is served on dark earthenware that seems to have become very popular in recent years.

There’s a set menu of items for the afternoon tea. The staff are happy to top up any of the items in case you haven’t had enough. Although to be honest, the serving is quite generous. Asking for top ups is really just an indulgence.

Much to my surprise, there are even Maltese pastizzi tal-irkotta on the menu. They’re the diamond shaped things made with filo pastry to the right of the ketchup in the picture below. They’re very good, but I’m not sure how authentic the chives are.

One thing I have noticed in my many years of experience as an afternoon tea afficionado, is that not that many places will serve the scones with real clotted cream. What you usually get is either plain old whipped cream, or if it’s one of the fancier joints, mascarpone – which I agree is the better substitute for clotted cream than whipped cream.

The sweets are quite unusual and very enjoyable.

And as far as the sandwiches are concerned, guilty as charged: I ordered seconds.

In the sum of all things, I very much enjoyed my visit to Canberra (except of course for the shooting incident on the way back to Sydney). And although I wouldn’t exactly call it Australia’s most exciting city, I certainly would like to return one day for a longer visit. And afternoon tea at The Hyatt.

QANTAS, Economy Class – Bombardier Q400: Sydney to Canberra

Getting to the airport

I just love Sydney and its harbour. And I really like the idea of commuting by boat. I mean, how cool is that! As usual, to get to the airport I first take the Manly ferry and then the train from Circular Quay. In the sun it’s pleasantly warm. But in the shade it’s still fresh. And the breeze on deck is not for the faint of heart. But the view…!

At Sydney airport there is one station that serves all domestic terminals. QANTAS operates out of Terminal 3

Check-in

From the station you need to go three floors up to the departure level. I’ve already checked in on the app and I have no luggage, so I can just go straight through security. In the domestic terminal they use body scanners, and you don’t have to take anything out of your bag either, which is really very convenient.

The QANTAS Business Class lounge

After I exit from security, the entrance to the lounge is to my left just a few steps down the hall.

No beach or sleep wear is permitted in the lounge. Although I wasn’t actually aware that UGGs were sleep wear…

The lounge is a lot less busy than when I was here last when I first arrived in Australia. I’m also a lot more awake. So, I grab myself a seat by the window, get myself a flat white (I’m picking up the local lingo…) and a cheese sandwich (yeah, okay… and a plate full of Arnott’s biscuits) and read until it’s time to leave the lounge.

Boarding

Boarding starts with a delay of twenty minutes from gate 17. More importantly, what I’m looking forward to is that boarding is via stairs and not an airbridge.

The cabin

On the outside, the aircraft is already wearing QANTAS’ new livery and looks rather… Dashing. Inside though, it looks like the cabin has seen some pretty heavy usage. It’s not that the cabin is in bad condition, just that the seats look rather worn.

The seat pitch is good. The only problem on the window seat it that the narrow width of the Q400’s fuselage cuts into your leg space.

Once we’re seated, there’s a further delay. Apparently, there’s a lot of luggage and it’s taking them a long time to load the bags in such a way that everything will fit.

The service

There are two female cabin crew. The purser seems quite reserved, but her colleague is great and interacts well with the passengers, and especially with the many kids on the plane.

While we wait for the handlers to finish with the bags, the crew pass through the cabin handing out small bottles of still water.

The flight time to Canberra is announced as 35 minutes.

The snack service

To be honest, I thought the bottle of water was all we were going to get, considering the short flight time. Much to my surprise though, once the fasten seatbelt sign is turned off, the crew start their service, which includes a packet of buttery passion fruit biscuits and a full drinks service, including tea or coffee.

Arrival

Eventually we land at 13h45 with a delay of eleven minutes, which is not all that bad. Here in Canberra they have these very funky mobile, wheelchair friendly ramps that they use to disembark. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great idea if there are passengers with mobility issues on board. But seeing as we boarded in Sydney without having to use one of these, I’m kind of wondering if it would not have been faster to just disembark via the stairs.

I step off the aircraft and make my way across the ramp to arrivals. There’s a bus into town every thirty minutes and I’ve just missed the one at 13h46. So I’m going to have to take a taxi to make it to my 14h30 appointment for afternoon tea at the Hyatt. The journey by taxi takes 12 minutes and costs AUD25. By bus it would be about 35 minutes.

Conclusion

I’m assuming that this will be my last domestic QANTAS flight for the time being. As I already mentioned in my post on the A 380 flight from Singapore to Sydney, I’m really not a fan of the QANTAS First Class product. Their domestic Business and Economy Class products are something else though. I find it quite amazing that they will serve you a hot meal on a leg of only ninety minutes between Melbourne and Sydney, or that they offer you bikkies in Economy Class on a flight of thirty minutes. It makes you wonder what the poor Aussies must think when they visit Europe and have to count their lucky stars if they get anything at all on a plane.

Paris – Restaurant Ogata

Where it is?

Ogata Restaurant is located on a quiet side street off the narrow throughfares of bustling Le Marais, in the oldest part of Paris. On the ground floor there is a small Japanese confectionary selling Japanese-inspired sweets.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and is located on the second floor. In the evenings reservations are recommended.

The venue

The interior of the building is quite striking and unusual. It’s rather dark inside, but not gloomy. The decor is clearly in the modern Japanese style, with clean lines and simple, unfussed decorations

Guests on their own or in pairs sit at the long table which frames the kitchen. For groups of four there are also tables away from the action in the kitchen.

The staff & service

The staff are an interesting combination of Japanese and French. Most importantly, they’re very forthcoming, relaxed and friendly. They’re happy to explain the menu.

The experience begins with an unscented oshibori at room temperature.

Amuse bouche

The amuse bouche is a selection of broad beans in beef jelly, beetroot infused tofu and pineapple with a tahina sauce.

Entrée

For the entrée, my companion goes with the selection of seasonal vegetables cooked and prepared in various styles.

While I go with the lobster and cauliflower, served in a tahina sauce with watercress.

Owan – savoury Japanese flan

Then comes the Owan, which is a sort of egg flan served warm with fish roe and vegetables.

Selection of sashimi with salt, wasabi & nato

There are two pieces of three different fish for the sashimi course. The middle one is tuna. The other two I forgot to ask about.

First course – grilled Lotte with artichokes, spring onion & morels

The first course isinteresting, but perhaps a little greasy with the deep fried spring onions and the Lotte. But the taste is very good.

Second course – vegetable hotpot with black truffle & grilled Dorade

For the second course, I go with the vegetable hotpot and black truffles, which is very nice and light, making a sharp contrast to the previous course.

My companion has the grilled Dorade with fondant.

Kombachi – two variations of steamed gohan: first with pickled vegetables and the with baked Cod

To end the meal, two bowls of rice are served in sequence. The first serving is with pickled vegetables, daikon and seaweed.

The second is with two small pieces of fish & dried seaweed in a dashi broth.

Palate cleanser – Fresh Mango granita

To close the meal, we are brought a small cup of Mango granita. This is very nice and not overly sweet.

Dessert – Strawberry sponge cake

And then for dessert, we both have the creamy strawberry sponge cake, which is excellent!

Verdict

Overall, I really enjoyed the meal. It was well cooked and nicely presented. What’s more, I think the chef struck a nice balance in the way he integrated Western elements into the preparation of the very japanese dishes.

In total, the meal came to EUR348 for two persons. We only had sparkling water throughout the meal. Nonetheless, I think the price is reasonable for what you get.