There is no denying that ever since its multi-million dollar makeover in 2012 the Crown Complex in Burswood, and its plethora of restaurants look like... well, it looks like a million bucks. The soaring lobby with its mirrored lifts and dazzling fit-out is reminiscent of Baz Luhrman's The Great Gatsby and it has to be one of the best looking hotels in Perth.
Inside the new Atrium, image courtesy Crown website
The Atrium Restaurant also received a huge makeover and it looks beautiful, but alongside the increase in style came an increase in prices with a Saturday night dinner now costing $75. Per person. And if you plan on bringing kids along: while under 4s are free, children between 4 and 12 are half price ($37.50 each) and everyone 13 years and above are full price.
For your money there is a lot of food available, and admittedly it has more variety than probably any other buffet in Perth. There is one station dedicated to seafood and salad including oysters in the shell, fresh prawns, mussels, sashimi and sushi plus a multitude of seafood salads and a Mediterranean antipasto section that stretches for miles.
Then there is the dessert bar. Always the most popular part of any buffet, it is no different at Atrium, although you might be told to go and eat your dinner first if you go sniffing around too early, as my husband was advised by one of the attendants inside making icecream.
The dessert bar is a sight to behold and includes waffles, a chocolate fountain, individual serves of cakes and puddings, jellies, mousse and more, plus an icecream station where you can order a cone with the works, or partake in whatever creation they have invented that day – a kind of mammoth 'Cold Rock' affair.
You can dip all sorts of things into the chocolate fountain
Atrium won prizes at both the 2013 and 2014 Gold Plate Awards for 'best buffet dining' and 'excellence in health' and was also named as one of top 5 breakfasts in Perth in the 2015 Good Food Guide. So there is obviously a lot in its favour, and if you are the sort that has a massive appetite, then buffets can be really good value.
But then there is always the flip side. On Friday and Saturday nights there are two seatings available (other nights there is a single seating between 5.30pm and 10pm). Fridays you can choose to eat between 5.30pm and 7.30pm or between 8pm and 10pm. On Saturday the first seating starts at 5pm.
This means that assuming you arrive at the dot of 5/5.30 you have only two or two and a half hours to enjoy your dinner. You actually have less, because by 7pm you are asked for your final drinks order, and then a bit before 7.30pm staff come around and ask you (very politely) to leave.
Then the entire restaurant lines up to pay the bill – hundreds of people, snaking through the restaurant waiting to settle their account. I filled the time by creating myself an icecream cone filled with lollies from the lolly station, until the lolly jars were taken away. Everyone else just stood and watched as the staff came through and wiped up spills, reset tables, and changed over half empty dishes to be ready for the next seating. Surely it could be managed differently – such as having a number of staff with portable Eftpos machines come to tables between 7pm and 7.30pm so hundreds of people didn't have to spend ten to fifteen minutes waiting in a queue.
This is not an issue during the week and on Sundays, so if you prefer a leisurely meal and feel you can get better value by not being forced to eat to a strict schedule, then perhaps you would be better served by dining earlier in the week (it is also $10 cheaper to eat Monday to Thursday).
The variety of the food is excellent although I think the buffet at the Hyatt has better desserts. I absolutely love desserts and have three or four trips at the Hyatt but only went once at Atrium on both recent visits (in the last couple of months), and did not finish them. Unusual for my very sweet tooth. The desserts were just so so. But absolutely worth going for the mains. Very good food and great selection
Went there on a Tuesday night to celebrate my husband's birthday and was disappointed with the spread. The chicken was overcooked, and the beef and chicken stews looked average just like they sound. Fish was dry and with the beef cuts sitting there too long. The asian variety was just like something I could've ordered from a local chinese take out restaurant. Was surprised that they served as one of the accompanying side dishes, prawn crackers for the asian spread, polenta and pasta, brussel sprouts, and beans with the carvery!!! Something more interestingly different would be more refreshing. The seafood bar had really small fresh oysters and only 2 choices of fish for sushimi. I just thought for the price of $65 per person, a more elaborate and tasty range of food could be offered. Yes, probably the Hyatt would be better...