Well it was only a couple of weeks ago I posted a review extolling the virtues of the food Delaware North were capable of turning out for functions at the WACA. How things change in a short time. International cricket returned to the WACA on Friday and Sunday in the form of two One Day Internationals against South Africa, and I attended both days – one with Lady FWO in tow, the other with my son. And I am afraid I was less than impressed – well the cricket was fine with one game going to each side and some good performances by both teams at times. But the food….well that is another matter.
I was in the Dennis Lillee Club which is situated in the Bradman Room on the member’s side of the ground – Lillee Club members pay a premium (in excess of $3000 pa) to watch from the comfort of the Bradman Room or the balcony seating out front. While they pay for their own drinks they receive what is termed sumptuous food. I am here to tell you that on the two days I attended it was anything but…
However at the start let me stress that none of the opprobrium accruing to the food in anyway relates to the waiting and serving staff in the Club – they are without exception helpful, friendly and welcoming; nor does it apply to the WACA Corporate Services Manager who acts as a liaison with the caterers (and spends a lot of time apologizing for failures of Delaware North) – my review and comments relate only to the caterers, their kitchen and their event managers.
The games started both days at 11.20AM and for the first three hours finger food was served and around 2.30PM a sit down meal. The finger food on the first day consisted of ricotta and spinach “sausage” rolls, small spicy chicken pies and little mushroom and bacon tartlets. The rolls were stodgy, overcooked and dry; the pies were a small step up at least having some juiciness to the chicken and spice.
The tartlets were reasonable – but with a slightly sweet pastry which was off putting to some. But basically that was the sum total of the claimed delicious food – party pies and sausage rolls!!
The sit down meal was little better overall – why it was set for 2.30 is anyone’s guess – perhaps to align with the expected end of the first innings or perhaps it was hoped that members would be so hungry they would fall on the food like ravening wolves and not notice the quality. The food is served from bain maries and I am prepared to be a little lenient in view of that – but nothing could excuse the overcooked and tough pasta rolls filled with some undefined kind of cheese mixture; or the overcooked, dry chicken. The steak served was more successful – still tender and with a touch of pink at the centre. However, everything had stood for far too long. The salads, at least were of reasonable standard.
I hoped that things would improve for the Sunday match – perhaps the kitchen had been caught unawares by the first game – after all they only had 8 months to prepare – but alas, it was no better. The finger food on Sunday included “real” sausage rolls – greasy and unappealing and served almost cold; croissants, filled with pepper chicken and camembert, sounded OK, but were served at the lower end of luke-warm which detracted greatly from their appeal. For those of a vegetarian persuasion they received rice paper rolls and sushi. The filling of the rolls was tofu for one and chicken (!!) for the other; the rice paper itself was of such tough consistency they could have used Gladwrap for a more tasty wrapping; the sushi rice was undercooked and gritty. A member who asked for gluten free finger food received – NOTHING!!
The sit down lunch – again at 2.30PM – included a couple of meat dishes – again standing too long in the heating trays dried these out – a barramundi dish – also somewhat dry, overcooked and unappealing – and another very overcooked and stodgy pasta dish.
Vegetarians received a single mound of quinoa with vegetables scattered through it – I admit it was reasonably tasty – but that was it. The salads served were one of chicken and leaves and one a Caesar style with bacon pieces – neither suitable for vegetarians – either the kitchen thought that vegetarians were very small eaters or they just didn’t care. A complaint caused a small green salad to be delivered later to those who had the quinoa – too little, much too late.
The Dennis Lillee Club is a premium WACA membership package – and members pay a high price for joining. Corporate clients are entertained in the Club. There are only 8 or 9 days when the Club opens – so membership is something like $300 plus a day. At the very least, food of a good quality should have been provided – sadly it was not. That Delaware North are more than capable of providing high quality food speaks volumes for the manner in which they treat this “captive” audience – however there is no certainty that these captives will remain if they continue to be treated with such disdain and poor quality food.
This is something that needs to be considered at the highest management level of the WACA. And quickly, before the next Lillee Club match.
On a final uplifting note – the Club does supply a speaker each day – we had the pleasure of listening to Mickey Arthur on Friday and Brad Hogg on Sunday – their entertaining and witty talks went someway to alleviating my discomfort at the food – but not so far as to excuse it.