I’ve been meaning to post this entry all day and finally have just gotten around to it before the sun has set! That is quite an achievement for a professional procrastinator such as me.
(I still can’t quite believe that no one else is using this name for a wordpress blog before me…, I was so sure that I would have to add in some number(s) after it when I signed up.)
The promotion is: “All ladies will enjoy a complimentary main course when ordering an appetizer / salad when you come with two or more ladies.” and “Ladies can also enjoy unlimited bubbles, wines, gin tonic and even your favorite martini till 22:30.” Every Tuesday – Saturday.
It is eye-catching, isn’t it?
This would be my and Kathy’s third time at their Ladies Night, while being the first for our other 3 friends. Here’s a bit of ‘background’ story.
The first time Kathy and I went there was in the beginning of December, before we broke off for Christmas holiday. Kathy found this promotion and we skipped going to the cinema to see Matt Damon in The Martian and ventured to Taojin instead.
We tried another pub, called the Gold Mango Bar (I think that is the name…) first because we always like to try new places in Guangzhou. However, that place was almost deserted so we crossed the road back to The Garden Hotel after one drink to try out the Ladies Night.
And boy, were we blown away. I didn’t expect much (and neither did Kathy I think) and so we were very impressed with the settings, the food and the service. Because there were only 2 of us, we had the smaller table with translucent curtain to give a more private atmosphere.
“I didn’t know that this was going to be a date.” I joked with Kathy.
Because we were so happy with the meal and experience then, we went again last week, this time on a Saturday night. Yes, Paulaner on Friday then The Garden Hotel on Saturday. It was one hell of a weekend ;D
And may be because the expectations were so high now, I felt like the dinner last Saturday was not as good as the first time around. The service was still impeccable (Kathy absolutely loves how they refill your wine glass without any prompts), it was the food itself that let me down slightly.
So being a scientist that I am, I proposed that we must go back again to try it for the third time for some a more reliable set of results.
And that led to our dinner last night.
So this review post will be slightly different than the others. There are a bit more dishes to talk about since we tried out quite a few things but there are some dishes too that were ordered several times. I will give out individual scores with details as well as an average for each dish so (hopefully) you all will have the whole picture.
Quick recap for the meaning behind each score:
1: Very Poor
6: Very Good
Let the review commences!
The complementary bread
They would serve the bread first after we have ordered and I quite like the variety from our first visit. Kathy doesn’t like carbs in general so I ended up eating 3 out of 4 rolls…
At first glance on our second visit, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of variety, not to mention the tear-and-share looked less impressive than the rolls.
However, the bread was warm and soft with a touch of sweetness that I like so I was happy. Again, I was the one who ate most of the bread while Kathy just enjoyed her sparkling wine.
Last night, we mentioned that the first we were there, there was a variety of different bread rolls and after we asked the staff, they brought us a one of the same from the first time as well as some pretzels which our friends enjoyed quite a bit.
Wasabi potato puree, tempura sultanas
Left: from first visit
Right: from last night
Huh… I didn’t quite realised that the looks change a bit… The taste, however, was still as good as the first time. I think it’s fair to say that both Kathy and I were impressed with the scallops. I am a fan of this shellfish so to find a dish where they are cooked to almost perfection was a treat.
I was a bit reluctant about the wasabi potato puree at first because I am not a fan of wasabi at all (even though I love Japanese food to bits) but the taste and heat isn’t strong enough to put me off this dish.
The tempura sultanas work really well with the tender scallops too, I enjoyed this dish a lot for the two times I ordered it. Even one of our friends has commented that the scallops are better than the crab cakes she ordered, even though that was good too.
Score: 6 for both times
U6 Prawn Cocktail
Cucumber mango slaw, cocktail sauce
Even on its own, this dish is just ok. When it was up against the scallops, it did not stand a chance.
The prawn was a bit overcooked from what I remembered, and the portion was so small. The only saving grace was the mango slaw but even that was tiny. I’m afraid it’s not going to be a good score.
Romaine hearts, crouton, parmesan espuma, roast garlic puree
Again, the portion is not big but the Romaine hearts were fresh, the cheese and the dressing was good. Though, I can’t give it a 4 because I don’t think this dish is worth 98RMB when you can get the scallops at the same price.
Bacon lardons, mixed baby lettuce, heirloom tomato
A variation of a classic sandwich, Kathy quite liked this dish. I did too, but again, 98RMB for a plate of salad with bacon can’t quite compete with the scallops.
Last night though, one of our friends who will now be known as The Angry Chef, didn’t quite read the description of the dish and was extremely annoyed when she realised that it was basically a plate of salad.
“I CAN MAKE THIS AT HOME!!! ARRRRGH!!!” The Angry Chef fumed (albeit quietly). And she totally can. It quite ruined the experience for her.
“You have to understand,” she said, “When you are hungry, you zoomed in on what you want to see. I only saw the first word, bacon, and just ordered that.” The Angry Chef snarled as she tore off more bread while we waited for our main course.
So even though I would personally give this dish a 4 (because I would order this dish if I want to feel healthy or in want of a salad), she would probably give this a 1.
The average score at the moment is 2.5, I’ll ask Kathy again what she would give this.
Lemongrass corn puree, roasted corn relish
One of our friends ordered this one last night and I tried out one of the crab cakes. I was quite impressed. It was crispy on the outside, soft and full of crab on the inside. The roasted corn was really nice and sweet, it complimented the cake very well.
Lamb Chops (2)
Grilled mushrooms, fondant potato, peas
Now this dish was very good, the star on the night in our first visit. The lamb was tender and full of great flavour. And even though I am not such a big fan of mint, roast lamb and mint sauce is a classic combination.
I think both Kathy and I gave this dish a 6 the first time around.
I’ve gone back to watch a clip we filmed after we finished our meal in December. (Yes, we’ve made a clip because we thought of starting a YouTube channel before, reviewing food with IB grades xD.) And I got the score slightly wrong.
Kathy was impressed with the lamb the first time but not as much as me. Kathy liked the lamb at Bosphorus more but my reason for the higher score is that because it was medium cooked and that I missed that.
Kathy’s score: 5
My score: 6
Even from the look, it doesn’t quite match the first time around does it? When asked for how well I would like it cooked, I went for medium. The tenderness and flavour was still good, but it wasn’t as hot as it should have been. I think that tarnished the whole experience, lukewarm meat.
And so I’m afraid the second time around, the score is only 4.
(When we were asked by the staff, I couldn’t be honest and said I’d give a 5… may be I should have been less reluctant to be a nice and easily-pleased customer…)
Anyway, even though I did not order the lamb last night, 3 other people did.
Kathy said that last night’s lamb was a little too fatty for her so she would overall give this dish a 5 for inconsistency. She agrees with me that the first time was still the best and we both wondered whether we think that way because it was the unexpected factor or was it actually superior…
Anyway, our other friend gave it a 5 as well. Which bring us to…
The total average score: 5
Roasted Chicken Breast
Asparagus, duo of potato, basil emulsion, smoked jus
Left: From first visit
Right: from last night
This dish impressed me when I first tried it too. I am not normally a big fan of chicken breast, I think it’s usually too dry with not a lot of flavour.
This dish, however, managed to not be either of those. The chicken breast was both moist and full of flavour. The seasoning (mainly salt I think) was done beautifully and the skin crisp. The asparagus went very well with the chicken too.
Last night’s dish was as good as from our first visit so…
Zucchini, carrot, sweet potato
Kathy wanted to try a new dish on our second visit so she ordered the steak, medium. And I think she enjoyed it too. I didn’t try it because it’s beef (I don’t eat beef)…
I’m not sure what score she would give this so I’ll come back and edit it after.
Score update: 4
(And I quote, “4 for the steak, but then again I got it well done so it could be my fault.” Said Kathy, “Princess Kat does not like raw meat tho.”)
Aged cheddar, truffle, panko egg, city fries, blueberry BBQ
This wasn’t part of the main course, instead it is from the Connoisseur Specials. It is not a part of Ladies Night but one of our friend is male and so he ordered this one.
(He has also started a blog! He’s an amazing writer so go check out his blog here.)
Again, it’s beef so I didn’t try it but I think the meat was particularly good.
Chocolate mousse, chocolate ice cream, chocolate pop rocks, white chocolate snow, raspberry jelly
This dessert drew my attention from the very beginning. I always check out the dessert menu because I have quite a sweet tooth and I am a chocoholic. This dessert sounded like it was made for me. So even though I was pretty full from food already, I still had to order it. This was back in December during our first Ladies Night.
(I had to go back and listen to the clip again to remind myself what score I gave this… I just remembered that it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped.)
So the chocolate ice cream was melting a bit when it was served, so that was my first bite. My initial reaction was, “Oh this is good.” And I was tempted to give it a 6.
However, I then went on to try the other parts and the score went down after because the whole dish was very chocolatey.
The chocolate mousse was good. It was unexpectedly good so I gave that a 6 first then a sentence later I gave it a 7. Huh. It held against the other parts as well, which the ice cream didn’t… Though, now I don’t actually remember how good it was so I would have to go with 6 instead.
I then went on to try the chocolate cake, which isn’t included in the description… Anyway, the cake was a disappointment. It was dry and even though it was chocolatey, it was a 3.
I made a comment here about how the order in which you eat each part was important because they weren’t all up to the same standard. The chocolate cake might not have gotten such a low grade if I had that first but because I enjoyed the ice cream and mousse so much, the cake became a let down.
I had the chocolate pop rocks next. This one was quite cool and imaginative, being crispy on the outside because of some sort of batter and there was a melted chocolate lava on the inside. It was a solid 5.
Then I went back to the chocolate ice cream and I realised that the ice cream wasn’t as chocolatey as I thought so the final score for the ice cream is a 5.
I would say though that possibly, the star of the show was the raspberry jelly. I really like the contrast between the tartness of the raspberry against the backdrop of rich dark chocolate. I would give that a 7 because it has made a lasting impression till now.
Overall, the dessert was above average but it did not blew my mind. There was no foodgasm the way we did with the main course the first time around.
Total Score for the whole dessert: 5
Grand Marnier Souffle
with vanilla sauce
Since the Chocolate dessert didn’t make a very good impression, I decided to try a new dessert dish the second time around. One of the staff recommended the souffle to us so I thought I’d give it a go.
I’d say this was the first time I’ve had a ‘proper’ souffle so I don’t have any frame of reference to work with. And to be honest, I wasn’t the keenest on vanilla based dessert either, being a chocoholic that I am.
However, I would say, this dessert didn’t do that badly considering how uninterested I was in it before it was recommended to me. (The staff actually recommended both the souffle and the chocolate dish but we all know how that chocolate dish went down…)
The souffle itself, the outside was good. There was a slight crispness to it as it had just come out of the oven. The outer layer was light and soft. The inside though, was too… egg-y for me. It reminded me of a comment about how you should be careful not to make scramble eggs… And the inside of the souffle kind of reminded me a little of scramble egg, which I hope isn’t what a good souffle should do…
Because of that, the souffle will only get a 4.
The vanilla sauce though was unexpectedly good. It went very well with the souffle so that is a 5.
The star of the dish, however, would have to be the fruit which might have been put on there as part of the decoration. I was so excited over that piece of fresh fig because it had felt like so long since I’ve had fresh figs. (I kind of fell in love with this fruit in Autumn of 2012, I tried it for the first time then and couldn’t get enough of it…)
The strawberry was sweet too as well as the cherry. So I think the fruit saved this dish, with a score of 6.
Total score for the whole dessert: 5
Warm Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream
Since the last 2 dessert didn’t warrant a repeat performance, I am making my way through the dessert menu (lol). This time around, I went for the warm apple pie that have been catching my attention (though not as much as the chocolate or the souffle).
I wasn’t sure if I would like it that much at all because even though I am a fan of apple pies, I don’t like vanilla ice cream. However, I don’t think chocolate ice cream would have gone that well with it so I thought I should try it as it is.
I was a bit disappointed to see the ice cream already melted that much but it still tasted quite good. The crust of the pie was a bit crumbly but the apple with some sultanas I believe went well with the vanilla ice cream. The fruit gave the dish some freshness too.
If the pie was on its own, I would have probably give it a 4. Another 4 for the ice cream too. Together though, they just worked together.
Total score for the whole dessert: 5
Kathy wanted to try and see what their martini was like so she ordered one. Apparently it was better than she expected (she normally hates martinis), very smooth. Our one male friend thought so too.
I’m not sure what score they would give the drink though so I’ll come back and update it then.
Score update: 6
And that, finally, wraps up the review for Ladies Night at The Garden Hotel. Kathy and I have already made plans to go back again since we do enjoy the fancy setting, the impeccable service and the Ladies Night deal. There are also a few more dessert I may like to try as well xD
Before I sign off, here are the final rating for the service and overall experience.
Kathy’s score: 7 (Mainly because they kept topping up her wine glass without any prompt at all.)
My score: 7
Kathy’s score: 6
The Angry Chef: below 4 (“You guys have to understand when one experience hunger, perspectives changes to a much much grayer scale.”)
Our gentleman friend: 4
My score: 6
I am nodding off here (it’s past 11pm, had to pause writing this entry when I went out for dinner hence couldn’t finish it before the sun has set). We went to Starbucks then the Bar street after The Garden Hotel so I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Will make up for it now.
I hope you all are having a lovely weekend!
PS – It is finally warmer with the sun coming out today! So I did two loads of laundry xD It was great.
PPS – Went out to dinner with Kathy, her dad and her dad’s friends at a Hakka restaurant near our apartments today. The food was great. Kathy got the pictures and I think that is another review post waiting to be written.
PPPS – I finished watching the 2001: A Space Odyssey today. Man, that is one weird film. I felt like they could have told the story in about half a time, but I can kind of see why it was done that way after I’ve read a couple of reviews. The film’s music score was good but it was just way too long. Still, I’m glad I’ve watched it so I can tick it off the list.