It's hard to believe that the Observatory Hotel was only opened in 1993.
Georgian-style architecture is complemented by a old-worlde charm from a bygone era. At the entrance to the hotel bar is a celestial globe from which it takes its name. Crafted in 1799, the globe features a handpainted face of the world's star configurations.
Inside the bar, a thick carpeted room with heavy drapery and solid furniture, a grandfather clock dating from the early 1800s, chimes on the hour. A collection of hard cover books line the shelves, many of them first editions covering topics that include natural history, world travel, science and sport. According to the plaque outside, 852 volumes were specifically purchased for the hotel.
Complimentary dinner rolls
As we sit down to dinner, our waiter pushes our chairs in, lays our napkins across our laps and nods intently when we place our orders. A plate of complimentary dinner rolls arrives quickly, served warm from the oven with a crackly crust.
Crystal Bay prawns wrapped in kataifi pastry $24
An entree of Crystal Bay prawns wrapped in kataifi pastry are a surprise hit. Fresh sweet prawns are swaddled in long and fine noodle threads, deep-fried to a golden crisp. It's like a supremely fancy version of a prawn cutlet, the crumble of fried noodles contrasting against the juicy prawn.
Wagyu steak sandwich with tomato, cheddar, onion and egg $32
The wagyu steak sandwich looks more like a burger, the slices of bread I was expecting replaced by a soft hamburger-style bun.
The wagyu itself is tender but not toe-curlingly so. Tomato, cheddar, red onion rings and a fried egg add depth, although the drizzle of mayonnaise is perhaps a touch excessive on a wagyu steak. The pile of chips are satisfyingly crunchy.
Tajima wagyu beef with mixed salad $45
The Tajima wagyu beef is a much bigger hit. Tajima is a specific breed of wagyu cattle, and the grade cut used is significantly more decadent than the wagyu sandwich. Briefly seared so the insides are still pink, the beef is buttery soft, the decadence of the meat offset by a simply dressed salad.
There's plenty to explore on the ground floor of the hotel. To the left of the lobby area is a series of lounges that offer quite seclusion. I'm always drawn to the rooms on the right, the formality of the Drawing Room relentlessly casting my mind toward any number of scenes in Pride and Prejudice.
Ornate, formal and beautiful, there's a reassuring heaviness to the furniture, and a solemnity that instantly instils a sense of calm.
Chairs around the fireplace
It's tempting to walk around the room pretending to be Elizabeth Bennett and Miss Bingley, but we resist. Besides, we're still awaiting the arrival of Mr Darcy!
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9/10/2009 12:18:00 am