Thursday, November 01, 2007

212 on riley, Riley St, Surry Hills

212 on riley, Riley St, Surry Hills
Thursday 1 November, 2007
Today I was attending a public workshop held at the Quality Hotel Cambridge in Surry Hills. This groovy little hotel looks very slick & hip inside however outside could easily pass as a housing commission building.
There is one restaurant at the Quality Hotel Cambridge - 212 on riley. As the hotel website states,

"212 Restaurant was Sydney’s first 5 star restaurant known as “Cyranos”. Now known as, 212 on riley. When the restaurant opened in 1979, Sydney’s finest Chef Rolf Widmer introduced a cuisine to Australia never seen before except in France, known by the French as “Nouvelle”. This was to the liking of some of Sydney’s most prominent business people and local residents, such as Mr Paul Keating (former Prime Minister of Australia) and Mr Lionel Murphy and his entourage of Judges. This cuisine carried on until 1990. Our famous cuisine was launched in France by a gentlemen by the name, Mr Paul Bocuse."
I wish restaurants wouldn't set themselves up for failure like that. With PR like this you would expect 212 to be a find. Sadly, it is a colourful interior offering little more than cafe fare. As workshop participants we dined here over lunch and received morning & afternoon tea on platters.
The most challenging aspect of 212 on riley was the service....or rather lack of. It seemed to be an exercise in avoidance. The staff avoided all eye contact with you and any attempt to engage verbally with them was met with a blank stare, no acknowledgment and a quick exit. Bizarre.
For lunch we arrived to find two tables set up for us but not enough chairs. This was promptly fixed by our group, not the staff. The interior of 212 consists of many colourful chairs that are cosy, not comfortable. There is a feature wall that changes colour and has a large 212 printed on it and sheer grey curtains that can be drawn across to make a portion of the dining space private.
The food was laid out for us and comprised of:
- a large bowl of hand cut fries with side bowls of sweet chilli sauce and sour cream
- two large platters of thick cut bruschetta type bread topped with varieties of ham, cheese, tomato, salami, lettuce, tuna etc
- a large platter of fresh fruit
The food was OK and we had approx 45 mins to eat. This place has the potential to be so much better - it's located within walking distance to Crown St - so if you were staying at the Quality Hotel Cambridge....where would you dine????
212 on riley - 212 Riley Street, Surry Hills - (02) 9212 1111


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