It was my father-in-law's birthday so we headed off to the Café at the Hyatt for one of their spectacular buffet lunches. Usually the word 'buffet' brings to mind bain maries of barely warm soup and dried up pasta, but not at the Hyatt. Not at $58 a head.
You can't have a family affair without grandchildren, so it was with three little girls – five, two and a half and a baby in a pram – that we descended on the very grown-up space of Café. They weren't the only children there, but they were certainly the youngest and I did have a few minor heart attacks over the course of the meal.
The buffet lunch is an impeccably turned out spread starting at the 'deli counter' with freshly shucked oysters, dishes of smoked salmon, prawns and a range of seafood salads plus breads, antipasto, soft cheeses, dips, pate and a make-your-own-caesar salad.
The hot food station (also known as the 'show' kitchen) always includes a carvery with at least two meats, a range of vegetables, fish, pizza, meat dishes and hot salads. No matter how I describe it, or how many dishes I mention, I probably won't do justice to the range and quality of the food. There's lots and it's yummy.
Yet really, it is the dessert station that catches everyone's eye. Situated just inside the door it's like the grown-up version of a candy shop with dozens (and I mean dozens) of different bite sized morsels from lemon meringue pie, tiramisu, chocolate gateaux and miniature cheesecakes, to the hot waffle station and ice-cream bar. Oh, and there's plenty of fruit too if that's your sort of thing.
It was an intimate knowledge of the desert bar that made me think that bringing the kids to the Café would be an overwhelming success. What kid could resist making their own ice-cream sundae, with jars of jellybeans and choc drops just waiting to be plundered?
At this point I should mention that I did not know how much kids cost for the Sunday lunch. Many restaurants charge $1 per year up to a certain age. Others have a dedicated kids menu costing around $10. Turns out that Café charges a flat rate of $29 per child, regardless of age.
Therefore, the plate of tomatoes, piece of pineapple and single chocolate mousse my five year old ate turned out to be pretty pricey. The two year old did marginally better, eating four serves of pasta and sauce, an ice-cream cone and a bowl of mini marshmallows and choc drops.
To be fair - my kids are a little fussy, they like plain foods. But it was sometimes very difficult to determine what was in a dish without tasting it first. The Café – like the Hyatt itself – seems averse to signage. There were no helpful notes indicating what dishes were, and trying to find a change table in the hotel lobby was like a mission to the moon, except with a small ponky child in tow (seriously, how hard is it to put the change table sign on the door to the bathroom?)
So would I recommend Café to people with small children? Unless you have really good eaters who can literally eat their weight in food, I probably would say keep them at home and order them a pizza. It would be better value.