I was recently invited to try the Sunday Jazz Brunch at the Razzi Restaurant in the Hilton Hotel in Cardiff. I’d eaten in the Hilton restaurant before, some time ago, but never Sunday lunch, so I was interested to go along and see what it was like.
The Jazz brunch is a carvery and buffet, with musical accompaniment from a four piece jazz band comprising students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. The food is served from 12 until 3, with the jazz finishing at 4 p.m.
We had a lovely table in the conservatory area of the restaurant, which has lovely views of the castle and is very light and open. We were quite near the jazz band, but the music was not so loud as to be intrusive, and was a nice accompaniment to a relaxed Sunday lunch. Although the restaurant area is lovely, I felt it was a bit let down by some fairly tired-looking furniture, which seemed more in keeping with a cheaper hotel and made it feel a lot more like a hotel restaurant than it really should do.
We started with a selection of hors d’oeuvres. There were lots of appetising options, including smoked and cured meats and fish, a variety of different salads, dips and chutneys, plus soup and rolls, and a few ‘pre-made’ options such as a prawn cocktail and a greek salad. We tried quite a few of the different options and they were all very good and worked well together too – I am not a fan of buffets that have so many diverse options that you end up with a plate of stuff that doesn’t go together! I particularly enjoyed some thinly sliced chorizo which was filled with cream cheese and topped with olives – I could have happily gone back for more of these but decided to save myself for the rest of the meal.
The main course was a carvery style roast. I am not sure if it was because of the time that we arrived (we were seated at 2.30) but by the time we got to the carvery there didn’t seem to be an awful lot left! There was only beef or lamb on offer, which was fine for us as we like both, but for anyone who didn’t eat red meat, it would have been disappointing. The meat was very good, though – a generous portion, and although I didn’t have high hopes for the veg (again, they looked as if they’d been under the lights for a while and not replenished in some time), they were actually much nicer than they looked! Unfortunately, we did have to wait a while for someone to be found who could serve us on the carvery, and he then had to go and find more plates, and then there was only one Yorkshire pudding left – he did offer to make more, but it would have taken around 20 minutes, so in the end we shared the one they had, which was fine for us as it was huge! We had to ask for sauces (horseradish in my case) but when it was found, it was really good – properly hot and fresh!
Pudding was the least enjoyable course for us. The options – various cold mini-desserts, a hot chocolate sponge with red fruits and a hot chocolate sauce – all looked pretty, but we tried a few between us, and none of them tasted of very much, with the notable exception of a strawberry cupcake, which was delicious, and which I would definitely choose again! A lemon tart looked lovely but was particularly disappointing due to soggy pastry and a lack of sharp lemon flavour. Again, there was only one plate left by the time we got to the desserts, so Mr W had to have his balanced precariously on a saucer. There were also cheese and biscuits available, but these were a bit depleted by the time we got there.
All the staff we dealt with were very friendly and helpful, particularly a lady called Mamen who deserves a special mention as she gave exceptional service, but we did have a few issues earlier on in the meal trying to get someone’s attention so we could order wine, have our starter plates taken away etc. This is often a bit of a problem with buffet-type restaurants, as the staff have less need to pass by diners’ tables and therefore don’t tend to notice as quickly when something needs attention. I think it was exacerbated in this case because of where we were sitting, in the area that is off the main part of the restaurant.
All in all, we enjoyed our lunch at the Hilton. There were a few minor grumbles, and I’d certainly try to go earlier in future, as I think we missed out by being seated towards the end of the sitting. I’d also probably indulge myself more on the starters, rather than leaving room for puddings, but on the whole it was a good meal, and at £25 a head, it is very good value, and I can imagine it being a popular option for families, or for groups staying at the hotel after a Saturday night in Cardiff, who want to fill up with a good Sunday lunch before travelling home.
Food: *** Service: *** Ambience: ***
Razzi Restaurant, Hilton Hotel, Kingsway, Cardiff CF10 3HH
I was invited to the Sunday Jazz Brunch as a guest and as such our food and a bottle of wine were complimentary.