At the entrance to The Grill groups of people are putting their names on the waiting list. Just as the intricate maze of the softly lit latticework ceiling begins to have a mesmerizing effect the headwaiter escorts us to our table. Once we are settled, he serves the sparkling wine as we gaze out over the Japanese rock garden. The crowd is a mix of Tokyoites down for the weekend, locals checking out the newest luxury hotel in town and Hyatt advocates who like to traipse the globe in the manner to which they are accustomed. Whatever the differences, there is unity in the faces intently scrutinizing the salad and appetizer buffet.
A modern take on the prawn cocktail is the first dish we try and it certainly bears no relationship to its 1970s semi-frozen cousins. The ranch dressing on the salad of endives, steamed green beans, cherry tomatoes and parmesan exemplifies how the chefs at The Grill enhance the natural flavours of the best ingredients. On another trip to the buffet, during which we discover the creamy pesto sauce and smoky baba ganoush, the lacklustre chicken from our previous trip fades from memory.
From the a la carte mains, the wood-grilled Australian Rib Eye is tender and juicy and nicely accompanied by roasted eringi and enoki mushrooms. While the oven roasted lamb loin is quite fatty and on the small side it is also crisp on the outside and succulent in the middle.
To call the dessert buffet abundant would be an understatement. Thankfully, there are miniature chocolate eclairs, bite-sized pieces of sticky banana pudding, chocolate brownies and profiterole rolls, fresh fruit and ice cream as well as a litany of puddings. Sunday lunch in Kyoto has entered a new dimension.
Brunch at The Grill is 3,950 yen per person plus a 10% service charge.
by Justin Ellis