When guest blogger Stuart Beaton told me about the sudden turn of events at the Raffles Tianjin, I couldn’t believe it. After all, he’d just blogged here about the Raffles on Christmas Eve. (Stu’s podcasts can also be found at http://rastous.podomatic.com/). Stuart will explain more about the Raffles and how he and his lovely wife, Ellen, have coped since it closed. Here’s Stu:
With the sudden and dramatic demise of Raffles in Tianjin, we’ve been forced to look further afield for our foodie festivities.
For those not in the know, the Raffles group had a disagreement with the owner of the building housing the hotel, and have walked away from it. The first we knew about it was when all the signage and hoardings vanished, prompting me to do a little on line digging as to what had happened.
And for where to go next.
My wife, Ellen, is a devotee of Dian Ping, the Chinese equivalent to Groupon, and we began to sift through it to see what was new around the traps. It turns out that there are a lot of “Western Style Buffets” here in Tianjin, and they all have one thing in common:
An overwhelming need for a decent food stylist and photographer!
Page after page of food made to look visually unappealing is not conducive to bringing in customers. No matter what the price. Disheartened, I turned to looking at the websites for other international chains, and found that some of those suffered from the same fatal flaw – bad examples to illustrate ideas.
Which is where Westin trumped out.
The photographs on their site didn’t focus on mysterious lumps oxidizing to death on a steam table, but on deep shots of the restaurant itself, highlighting the variety of fresh ingredients waiting to be prepared at their a la minute stations.
Oh, and on their desserts. Lots and lots of desserts…
A peek at their Dining Offers page on the English site yielded nothing, but a switch to Chinese brought up a 30% discount offer, and we booked on the spot.
The day after Valentine’s Day saw us arrive and spend two solid hours eating like trenchermen… What can I say, we’re just piggies.
The food more than lived up to our expectations (but, like Raffles, the cheese was DOA), and the presentation and over all atmosphere means that we’ll be heading back here more often.
As long as they don’t just pack up and go!