Squash Bottom

I just ate a $22 piece of smoked salmon. The deep-pink curl of cold fish was perhaps an ounce, maybe just a little more. It was slightly salty, fleshy firm, quite nice, really.

Oh, and the water was excellent, too. The sparkling beverage came in an oversize glass tumbler, with lots of crackling ice cubes. I got as many free refills as I wanted. If I was going to recommend a place in town to get a piece of fish of suitable size to put on a cracker, in fact, and a really A-okay glass of water, I'd have to put Squash Blossom, the casual Southwestern cafe at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort at Gainey Ranch, right up there on the list.

For anything else, though, if my embarrassing Sunday brunch last week at the big-time resort is any indication, the Squash Blossom has hit bottom. This was, without a doubt, one of the weakest buffet performances I've seen anywhere in a long time, completely unforgivable at what has long been one of the Valley's better resort properties.

I know renowned chef Anton Brunbauer recently moved on, to take the helm of the upcoming Westin Kierland, but that's no excuse for a classy place like this to turn into a Holiday Inn.

It took three napkin changes to find a limp cloth that at least didn't have lipstick stains or a horrid chlorine smell to it. My cloth place mat was striped with stains. And even on a casual day in August, I can't believe that management now allows guests to come in fresh from the pool. (I don't want to ease into brunch staring at the backside of some lady stuffed into a swimsuit with just a sheer wraparound to cover her crinkles.)

Someone forgot to set out the food. A few measly chafing dishes held scrambled eggs, dry hash browns, chicken in red-pepper sauce, barbecued salmon and apple-raisin crepes. A mound (mound, not presentation) of eggs Benedict was classless, parchment-paper ham with flabby eggs. There was cold sausage, cold bacon, Belgian waffle quarters wilting under a heat lamp, plus petite slabs of carved roast beef (mushroom gravy at a place like this) and ham (with pineapple sauce, natch). An omelet station was a nice try, but it's shocking that it was sided with stale bagel halves under yet another heat lamp. Tacky, tasteless, hardly the Hyatt I've known and loved.

Desserts are often a brunch highlight, but nothing could redeem a ridiculous "mousse" that might well have been chocolate frosting in a cup. $22? That's about $21 too much for this mess. Hyatt, I hope some changes are coming soon.

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Carey Sweet
Contact: Carey Sweet