Merivale Madness: A food fight in style.
Human masses flocked to the launch party held at the Ivy Room on Tuesday (16th Feb) evening. The line snaked from the entrance of the Ivy on George Street and curved down Hunter in the heart of Sydney CBD. It was a Merivale occasion. Meaning, big. Popular? Indeed. Long lines, grand entrances and a generous give away of food, beer and wine for all who made it inside.
From the 15th of February to April the 16th, Merivale is offering $33 lunch and dinner menus at nine of their restaurants. This includes: Ash Street Cellar, Bistro CBD, Est., Lotus, Mad Cow, Sushi Choo, Sushi e, Teppanyaki and Uccello. Nine restaurants. Nine chefs and their staff, tweaked and prepped in such speedy disposition enclosed in their torrential pop up kitchens. They each featured two to three canapes which were quickly devoured by the hungry souls that loitered around the tables like baby chicklings waiting to be fed. As you would- all food and wine provided at the launch party was free.
The event was promoted via social media networks and through the events section on the Merivale website. It generated so much interest that it was impossible to check attendees off a list upon arrival. Merivale employees walked the line of famished vagrants, handing out mini Merivale Magazines that listed up coming events to everyone who was waiting to get inside. Clever marketing? Perhaps.
Yes, they managed to generate a long list of emails from those who registered for the event. Those who actually attended the event are now more aware of Merivale restaurants and what’s being offered. And yes. They successfully lured the hungry in, winning them over with free food. Those who didn’t make it inside but registered? Never. Piss off. The hungry.
I applaud them for feeding the scavenging stampede. As soon as a plate emptied, it was miraculously filled again. Then emptied. And loop. The place was so packed that if you stood still, the crowd could actually carry you. I honestly think that half the people there didn’t even know what they were eating. It was impossible to read the tiny descriptions on the table, and although the waitstaff did try their best to present the ingredients used in each canape, one could not wait till the end of the description without witnessing the plate in front of them be annihilated by snatching vulchers. Perhaps it was the potted jungle surrounding the tables that brought out the animal survival instincts within.
The eating experience was mediocre. I didn’t get to taste all the canapes they had to offer, but from what I saw, they sure did look pretty. I was quite disappointed by Est.. Having eaten there twice, I almost thought that the rockmelon and jamon was some sort of joke. Their grilled scallop tartare was rather ordinary, although, I was pleasantly surprised by the gingerbread chicken liver parfait. The heirloom tomato and buffalo mozzarella from Mad Cow was fresh in flavour. The wagyu was a little tough and their chimichurri sauce was quite mild. I found the spicy salmon roll from Sushi e strong and over powering on the spice side.
Now, I am a big lover of lasagne but I was disappointed by the beef and porcini lasagne from Uccello. It was dry, over salted and chewy and the parmesan and prosecco risotto resembled cheesy congee. I really felt that Uccello should have chosen another dish to represent their restaurant. It would be sad to see people turn away from them based on what was sampled at the launch. On the other hand, the canapes by Chef Dan Hong at Lotus were the most interesting. I enjoyed the ocean trout ceviche with Thai flavours on a crackle base. It had lovely fresh taste of kaffir lime. I was also intrigued by his use of “tasty toobs” on a prawn skewer. After seeing what I missed out on at Simon Food Favourites, I should have hung around the Teppanyaki table.
Events like this are quite influential for the adventurous eater. As are food and wine shows, taste of sydney and good food month events to name the least. I wouldn’t write any restaurant off based soley on what was sampled at the launch, but the night did play a significant part in moving restaurants of the Merivale variety up and down the restraunt hit list. Overall, I am certain that everyone who attended enjoyed the free food and beverages even though the event didn’t really showcase the standard and quality that these chefs would expect to execute in their own kitchens.
330 George Street
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