First the good news: The Blue Bar at the Four Seasons in Hong Kong serves THE best mini burgers aka sliders along with Peking Duck and Crabmeat Tacos in town.

It’s all in their snack menu and, apart from the fabulously healthy lunch buffet, the wine list, cocktails and what they throw in for free like a Happy Hour snack buffet and always excellent service, they combine to be the only reason why a group of us frequent the venue.

It’s a very different reason for making the Blue Bar our favourite meeting place from a few years ago. This was when many of us would meet up with many from the horse racing fraternity, catch up on everything going on with some of us hanging back to hear the resident trio “vibe” over a few chords and beats.

Looking back, the drinks made their music far better than it was, but friends and strangers would drop in and it usually led to a pretty good Friday or/and Saturday night out on the town.

These days, the stage has been moved and a trio- female singer, drummer and keyboardist/vocalist- perform a pretty uninspiring selection of music.

To each their own, but hits by acts like Christopher Cross and others from that era with some Adele and “Desposito” thrown in doesn’t exactly hit us between the ears. It’s fluffy stuff. Leroy, the keyboardist from Cape Town makes an effort to drop by and communicate with guests.

The rest of the trio are from Venezuela and come across as amateurs who have swallowed a turd, don’t enjoy the gig, make absolutely no effort to win over customers and take some of the longest breaks between sets. Almost a two hour break on a Friday night? An order from Management?

The soon upcoming two month break for refurbishing to keep up with the competition in Wanchai when the Rosewood and Saint Germain, below, hotels open for business might be a good idea- time for the F&B manager at the Four Seasons- and lesser hotels around that area- to understand Hong Kong customers and what makes them tick.

So, once we’ve tried everything from the Blue Bar snack menu and ask for a doggy bag, we’re outta there before 9.30 for somewhere else- even to the strange club, or whatever it is, called Studio in Lan Kwai Fong.

Studio, which certainly looks very rich and grand, labels itself as a Jazz bar, which it most definitely is not. It’s where nearly every okay to good to lousy musician living here has performed once and will never return. It’s now a mish mash of second and third rate acts often performing to no one except for some young Eastern European “models” who have dinner there at 10pm until whoever they’re meeting to meet arrive.

The snack menu is ok, the service is ok, the ‘live’ music one can take or leave and it’s not a place that’s a magnet. It is, however, a curiosity piece with many leaving after less than an hour with a number of questions running through their heads. Like, how on earth do they make business? But is the answer in the question? It’s worth checking out for its kinda offbeat David Lynch vibe.

At least, Studio doesn’t charge six star prices for three star drinks, meals and service. These have become hallmarks and pockmarks of nearly every five star hotel in Hong Kong.

Their priority is room occupancy and just how well Banqueting does. The rest of the hotel becomes an also-ran- mediocre service, ill thought through menus with, more and more, the quality of their “Favourite Food” Items certainly not what it once was.

Point out to one particular hotel that its Hainan Chicken Rice is cold and the accompanying bowl of soup even colder- to which their staff agree- and that’s it. You ask for the bill, and you’re charged full price despite not having more than two bites. Order a Chicken Congee and there’s sometimes the need to dive deep into the bowl to find the chicken bits.

Little wonder that one of the regulars at a hotel in Wanchai is a disabled elderly lady who quietly sticks a finger down her throat and yells out that she’s gagging because of something in her food. It’s a well known ploy, but apparently, banning customers like her is difficult.

Don’t even mention some of the food items WE have tried and rushed home to get violently ill. There was no need to stick our fingers anywhere. Mention how their food made us ill to the hotel and…and, well, nothing. It’s “noted”.

In the UK, the U.S. Singapore, Japan, hell, Colombo, anything like this and hotels and resorts would be looking at lawsuits along with some very very bad publicity.

The “critic’s” site Open Rice would have a field day. But then Open Rice seems to have had its day. It’s something for those hanging out in the budget conscious Soho East area who wouldn’t know a decent Merlot from the powers of Merlin.

All this says much about Hong Kong today: no one cares. Over supply and demand. The convenience of Deliveroo and Food Panda.

There are mewing sounds from the Management of five star hotels that could be apologies, but, by now, we know they’re talking from both sides of their mouths.

They’re simply looking after Number One and that golden handshake of retirement while enjoying the good life for as long as possible.

These are second and third rate hoteliers- certainly not anywhere near the calibre of former Hong Kong greats like Ken Moss, Felix Beiger, James Smith, and later on, Gordon Fuller, below, who ran the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong when that hotel was THE meeting place for everyone who was someone in this city.

Today? Where have all the flowers gone? It’s just making time on the killing floor. It’s a buffet of mediocrity- the hotel lounges, the average performers, set lists one has heard for 20-30 years, appalling service and daft business strategies.

A menu at the coffee shop of a five star hotel that includes a bowl of Laksa, but not one curry? Seriously?

Then again, having tasted their curries from the Room Service menu and sandwiches that are “sparse” and fall apart before they reach your mouth, not serving a curry could be a blessing.

The iconic Cinta J in Jaffe Road and the Indonesia Restaurant in Granville Road might be lacking in interior design finesse, but they offer real value for money and bloody good food without all the superfluous frilly bits.

Give us also any of the Eric Kayser Bakeries for quality breakfast and light lunch items- and ordered through Deliveroo for less than $200.

A good night out in Hong Kong? Is there such a thing anymore? There’s nothing in Lan Kwai Fong. In SoHo, there’s ONLY Manchu China. Potato Head in Sheung Wan, below, is definitely worth many visits.

Iron Fairy, Ophelia and good old Peel Fresco plod along attracting the usual suspects regurgitating the past. What about progress?

There’s the new Gekko which is pretty much like the old Gekko- musicians going like the clappers for other musicians. This is called self indulgence. But then once in a while, one listens to a very very good bassist like Franklin from Colombia, below, who offers a glimmer of hope. We need much more hope.

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