Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Parlour @ Hullett House

I tried my best to carry a "no expectation" attitude walking into The Parlour of Hullett House at 1881 Heritage for afternoon tea because I don't want to be influenced by the negative comments I have been hearing from fellow foodies. My principle is to try it myself, judge it and justify it for myself. Oh man, how truly disappointing was the experience! Before I go on with my review (which is not going to be pretty), let's start with something fun! Let's play the game I named "Count the Newlyweds!" I took this picture outside The Parlour overlooking the main courtyard of 1881 Heritage, can you locate the number of newlyweds in the picture? Zoom in and you will find quite many! lol ... I spotted 6 I think ...

The restaurant was located at the main level of the Hullett House overlooking the whole courtyard with a few tables on the terrace. Sorry for the blur image thanks to the staff who blocked me from taking the picture because for some reason "No Picture Taking is allowed" ... huh?? I requested for an explanation repeated but all I got as an reply was "Sorry, no picture taking is allowed" while the lady at the far table was holding up her iPhone taking a few snaps??? (Or maybe the staff assumed the lady at the back was trying to get a better reception by holding her iPhone above her head??) Not much of a good first impression!

I think I can safety assume that its seasonal Festive Afternoon Tea set is one of the most expensive in town at HKD388 per person or HKD588 for two! I would be fine with the price if the servings / items were good but man, I was quite speechless in way too many perspectives! The tea set menu looked quite nice, the paper used for the menu was thick and expensive. I bet HKD30 worth of what I paid went into this menu! I should have taken the menu home just for the sake of it! Also the picture on the menu truly illustrated the meaning of the following disclaimer on food menu: "photos shown on menu are for reference only."

So what did we get for an Afternoon Tea Set for Two?? Yes, for 2 full grown adults who were willing to pay HKD588. Well, first came the plate of canapé. Where should I start? O yes, ONE mini burger and ONE finger sandwich with cucumbers for 2 to share. That took some skills to cut in half you know! And that finger of mine ... Oh I mean the finger sandwich with cucumber was easier to share and cut because the bread was semi-tough! The name Leek, Almond and Black Truffles Quiche sounded very attractive but the actual thing was very ordinary and cold! The smoked salmon blinis with Aquitaine Caviar tasted very smoked salmon, and it should!

Alright, next came the tower of pastries and scones. That was it? I was expecting more items to be very honestly! 4 Scones, 1 mince pie, 1 macron, 1 gingerbread cupcake, 1 black forest cake and 1 white chocolate lychee cake and ... 2 huge containers of cream and jam place on the top rack. I almost mistaken the cream and jam as some extra sweets!

Let me say it once again, aside from the coffee/tea, that was ALL the items with my Afternoon Tea Set for Two priced at HKD588 + 10% Service Charge. ONE black currant Macaron to share? ONE rock hard minced pie to share? ONE Gingerbread cupcake to share? ONE mini burger to share? Please give me ONE reason not to be unhappy or disappointed!

I could not help myself but to ask the staff what would we get if we ordered the tea set for one? Apparently for the Afternoon Tea Set for ONE, you get one canapé of each kind, 2 scones and 3 of the pastries only instead of the ever-so-generous 5 items placed before us.

The scones were starchy and a strong yeast smell once you cut it in half.

The color of the black currant looked kind of fake but it was the better item compared with the rest.

Quails Egg and Marmite Toast tasted yolk-y and that was it. Good that there were two of this toast because I really don't know how to cut this in half!

What about the rest of the precious items? Well, they were not surprising at all, the mince pie was rock solid, same as the mini gingerbread cupcake and the black forest cake was a bit too sweet.

All our stomachs and taste buds were not very satisfied (and I was pretty disappointed with my experience at The Parlour), we decided to head over to Ocean Terminal to get ourselves some New York Fries (new flavor - mushroom melt!).

Seriously, the Aqua Group which runs all the restaurants at the Hullett House, should put their act together! Maybe afterall I had too much expectation from this place or from the Aqua group? I don't know anything anymore, please share you views. I am now very hesitate in trying the other restaurants at the Hullett House. I just feel sad or maybe unfortunate that for such a prime location, my experience could have been a wonderful one!

I think after this visit, I just helped them recover their renovation cost, perhaps I contributed my share to the door knob??

  • Location / View
  • Please read my review above ...
Avg Spending: HKD 200 - 300 per person

The Parlour
2A Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3988 0101

View Larger Map


Charmaine said...

What a hilarious review - and thank god I read it, as I was actually considering visiting at some point. What a laughable excuse for afternoon tea.

I only recently discovered your blog but will continue reading now (especially as I'm visiting HK for a month - my family live here but I live and work in London). Have also followed you on Twitter as you were recommended by a friend of mine (@catty) :-)

Unknown said...

kakakakakaka!!!! "Good that there were two of this toast because I really don't know how to cut this in half!"
LOVE TAT!...and the game of counting the newlyweds :D

does tat place make a beautiful background? i dont get it.

Geoffrey Wu said...

Buddy - hate to say but the F&B managed by AQUA Group is purely appalling. They are lucky to find good locations but the food & service is a joke! Glad you enjoyed your visit!

sophia said...

I am sad to see heritage preservation reduced to government funding for outrageously priced restaurants/hotels. It would be interesting to see the financials behind the restaurant operations. I note too that many new restuarants are charging exorbitant prices and until people stop patronizing them, they won't return to good honest cooking.

Jason said...

@Charmine: Thanks for dropping by!! Oh staying for a month? Nice!! Winter is the a better season to visit Hong Kong than Summer for sure. I wanted to ask you to try it for yourself to see if there will be any improvement over the New Years but seriously doubt it ... the location / site is wonderful indeed, would be amazing if the establishments within can uphold the standard ..

Jason said...

@Rita: I honestly don't find this place to be an ideal wedding photo background but then again, who am I to judge right? haha ... I just find it weird that newlyweds have to wait in line (sorta of) to take pictures behind or in front of certain structure ... the scene was kind of funny lol ...

Jason said...

@Geoffrey: I am amazed that after all these years and countless customer feedback, there seem to be no obvious improvement !!

Jason said...

@sophia: in general, it is very unfortunate to see heritage sites being subjected to commercial use to this extend.

Anonymous said...

I went there for afternoon tea last week and went home disappointed as well. The quality of the food was lower than what most would expect in a decent restaurant and I am not even taking into account of price.

cheeky angel said...

Isn't it Aqua Group's MO to charge a fortune for not very much? They have been very fortunate to obtain prime spots for most, if not all, of their F&B concepts but if you dig past their beautiful facade, it's not a pretty sight.

Caustic Candy said...

Hey Jason,

Should have gone to the Pen for festive tea instead! Love the photo of the guy's hand in the way.

Proves once again what I've always thought about Aqua Group - all beauty and absolutely no substance. Only good thing about Aqua in One Peking is the view, only good thing about Hutong is the view, only good thing about Yun Fu is...oh there isn't even one.

It still annoys me righteously that Grant Thatcher over at Luxe Guides continues to sell ALL of Aqua's offerings hard. That's when I became super wary of Luxe Guides because I agree with almost none of their suggestions for HK. Anyway, that's a different rant entirely.

Just please God, let's hope they don't get their hands on Central Police Station...

Happy New Year. Hope you have a great one.

Caustic Candy xx

Jason said...

@Anonymous: good thing we tried afternoon instead of a full meal! lol

Jason said...

@cheeky angel: they invest a lot on the decor and hope to recover the cost from the customers asap!

Jason said...

@Caustic Candy: it would be very unfortunate to see the handful remaining HK heritage sites to fall under the incapable hands or even worst, the management of purely commercial oriented entity.

cheeky angel said...

Caustic Candy & Jason bring up a very interesting point re the future of heritage sites in HK. We have all witnessed the HK govt's devotion to protecting its heritage by tearing them down and allowing property developers to use them for their own gains, so it only seems natural that this trend will sadly continue with the govt in alleged cohoots with the rich money-grabbing developers :(


It all sounds so disappointing indeed! Knowing about AQUA has put me off trying a meal at their higher end St Georges already, despite the well-known chef poached from PIERRE! :S

Not sure why such Heritage sites have been given to AQUA or even Gilbert Yeung's group to operate such outrageously ill-managed tourist traps..

Busy Suzie anyone? HAHA! ^O^'

S.Cheung said...

'no pictures allowed'. wahahahaha. i heard of this news.

Jin said...

i'm sorry you had a bad experience here, but this review is just hilarious! i love it!!!

Dave said...

Please realize you were not their targeted patrons. That very location offers makeover for mainlanders by sucking their 'quick and easy' RMB. That explained why the service is bad, food is expensive and no photo taking.

Jason said...

@Belle S: ^^

@Jin: Thanks :)

@Dave: I guess you are right, I should not expect too much under such circumstances. The fact that a Hong Kong Heritage site of which pictures are not allowed really bothers me! It is like tell me I cannot take picture of the Legco building in Central!

Anonymous said...

St George: tried it about three months ago. Extremely expensive (think expensive and then double the figure. Service was good, attentive and unobtrusive; food was okay, but choice rather limited and also a bit non-mainstream; wine selection was also limited, and wine cost seemed astronomical: two of us for dinner a la carte, with a bottle and a half of rather average new world wine, and a glass each of port: not much change from HKD5000( but that included service charge). The wine was about a half of the total. Atmosphere was unexceptional. If I ever again want to spend that much on a dinner for two I'll go to Gaddi's, or Felix, or Petrus, in fact anywhere but St George.
The Stables: been there a few times for lunch over the past six months. Seems better value than St George and the location makes it more interesting. Food is good and selection acceptable. Service is friendly and prompt. Wine list is more interesting than St George, and less pricey. Average spend for lunch about HKD500 per person, including drinks.
As for The Parlour: after reading your review I think I'll give it a miss, and continue my afternoon tea habit at the Mandarin, with occasional forays to the Intercontinental and Peninsula.

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