A recent invitation to sample the Hyatt Regency’s Aria restaurant new Spring menu, was greeted with intrigue, particularly as I had enjoyed my last visit to their Gentleman & Scholar Bar – vegan burger and spare ribs, strange combo I know but worked for me.
I met my guest and we mingled with wine-in-hand, for a short time, lapping up the beautiful dining area, meeting other guests, beneath a huge glass conservatory style atrium. It’s like being in a secret garden with bird cage hanging from the overhead flora.
The Hyatt always makes a real effort I have noticed. Whether it be a promotional party, charity event, dining experience or even the occasion I was lucky enough to enjoy their spa day, with Swedish massage, relaxing in the steam room, jacuzzi and pool afterwards – these guys don’t things by halves.
We were seated with several other guests around a large round table and were offered the menus, along with delicious wines from English wineries Hattingley Valley and Lyme Bay.
Each seat had a personalised touch with named envelop/staff-signed Hyatt card, accompanied by some flowers. The lavender was my late mother’s fave scent which brought back some nice memories.
Aria Spring Menu
The talented chefs at Aria have created a menu packed with seasonal flavours. Colours and fragrance feature strongly in the menu with many carefully considered micro herbs added to complement each dish. Influences from the stories main characters early life in India also feature in the menu with the addition of some South Asian spices.
Taking inspiration from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s book, The Secret Garden, the story is set in a beautiful garden which is reflected in the look and feel of Aria restaurant. Aria restaurant is flooded with natural light by day. As the sun sets, tiny lights in the surrounding trees begin to glow creating a romantic place to drink and dine. A gentle water fountain also adds to the tranquil atmosphere.
Duck Egg, Pan Fried Hake & 8oz Beef Fillet
To start my guest and I chose the Duck Egg, Asparagus and mushrooms. The Charred Asparagus tips were crunchy and refreshing, full of taste and complimented the egg beautifully.
Add the Broad beans, Peas, Oyster mushroom and you have the most delicate dish, which I felt there was no rush to enjoy. This starter set the taste buds tingling for the main course, washed down with a glass of cleansing English wine, we were both relaxed and the conversation around the table flowed easily with the drinks.
My guest opted for the Pan Fried Hake as her main. Mussel, peas, baby spinach, orange and saffron sauce which I tried. This was fresh as you like, and flaked away easily, enhanced by the delicious aromatic sauce.
I could not tell you what the veg tasted like as my mind was firmly set on polishing off the plump steak and soaking up the rich juices with the peppercorn sauce.
Personally, I could not resist the 8oz Beef Fillet. This came with Saute new potatoes, courgettes, carrots, parsnip crisps and peppercorn sauce.
I always find steak a risk if you are not sure of the restaurant, too often I have paid way over the odds for has ended up borderline inedible. A recent experience elsewhere left me having to go to the toilet to spit out what resulted in a chewing marathon. It was not cheap either.
So i was really pleased to bite into this little medallion of delight and find it medium rare cooked to perfection, with a tender soft meat, melt in the mouth, which is what I look for in a really good steak.
I will be honest I could not tell you what the veg tasted like as my mind was firmly set on polishing off the plump steak and soaking up the rich juices with the peppercorn sauce. I think my notes were fresh, full of taste and crunchy. Ten out of ten for this and would go back again just for this dish alone!
Chocolate Orange Sphere & Blood Orange Cheesecake
After a few more wines, banter and laughs, we decided to try a dessert each. After such a fab starter and main, we felt it important to get the full picture, even though we were full by this point.
My Chocolate Orange Sphere was filled with Milk Chocolate mousse, orange gel, and brownie. I smashed the hard chocolate shell apart to reveal the soft sweet mousse inside.
It was as expected, rich and tangy with a moreish quality – it did not take long to demolish the chocolate mess leaving a clean plate. My dining companion chose the Blood Orange and Ricotta Cheesecake, which I am told was wickedly tasteful, and another job saved for the dishwasher.
We finished the evening with a glass of Argentinian Malbec which concluded a relaxed evening of superb taste and laughter.
Aria really is a great restaurant and a step above other hotel options in the city. The attention, care, creativity and passion by all who run the Hyatt Regency shines through in a friendly, relaxed and very local atmosphere.
From the great music playlist, to the local wines, and attentive staff, good to see this international hotel chain not just doing the same old corporate style menu, this place has, romance, flare and substance – an intelligent choice!
Review by Nick Byng.