Monday, November 05, 2007

Wharf Restaurant, Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay

Wharf Restaurant, Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay
Monday 5 November, 2007

I thoroughly enjoyed my last visit to the Wharf Restaurant so was very much looking forward to returning - this time for lunch. Today's event was the Sydney Theatre Company Pier Group lunch with guest of honour, Cate Blanchett.

The Sydney Theatre Company Pier Group is a dedicated group of theatre lovers who organise a regular program of events to raise funds for special projects. Each year the Pier Group raises vital funds for Sydney Theatre Company by staging a range of signature events throughout the year, providing friends of the Company with opportunities to contribute funds while at the same time engaging with STC and its artists. Pier Group fundraising supports specific STC projects and in the past funding has been provided for disabled access to the Wharf theatre, the commissioning of Australian works and the long-term preservation of historic props, costumes and production drawings.

If it wasn't for Cate Blanchett today's experience would have been a blazing disaster (as one of my lunch buddies so aptly described it). Let me explain.

We had organised a small group to attend today's lunch several months ago. Trying to obtain confirmation on the venue or time was like pulling teeth....repeatedly. My emails and voicemails over the past 8 weeks were left unreturned and to summarise the pain involved let me share with you that I only received acknowledgment/ confirmation from the STC on Friday.....for the lunch today. Hopeless.

We arrived for the 12pm lunch to find at least half the restaurant already full. We gave our names to at least 3 staff before we were directed to a table. There were no menus on the tables so were were not sure what the lunch involved however at $60 pp we assumed the lunch would be worthwhile. Never assume. We were served bread about 12.30pm and sat there for another 30 minutes before lunch was served. So, after being seated for an hour our lunch arrived. For a lunch during business hours with corporate tables this was unnacceptable. At least they were consistent with their lack of organisation.

The restaurant was under-staffed so it took at least 20 mins for each person to be served. Then, they ran out of food. It was extraordinary to us that this could happen and we were incredibly unimpressed with the way the staff served each table. They placed food in front of half the table then disappeared for another 10 mins. What they served for lunch was shocking - tinned tomatoes in a shallow dish with overcooked fish and a dollop of pesto. It was bland and bordering on embarrassing for a restaurant of this standard.

Just as we thought things could not get any worse, we noticed a staff member retrieve the tiered cake stand of cupcakes from the display table in the middle of the restaurant and we burst out laughing. They had run out of cupcakes for dessert! Sure enough, as they neared our table the staff slowed down and tried to disguise that they had run out of dessert. Unbelievable.

If it wasn't for Cate Blanchett talking effortlessly about her passion for the theatre, plans for STC and motherhood the lunch would have been a complete utter waste of time. The Pier Group should get their act together.

Wharf Restaurant - Pier 4 Hickson Road Walsh Bay - (02) 9250 1761


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