16 February 2010

March Into Merivale Launch Party 2010: Best Free Food & Drink Event, Sydney (16 Feb 2010)

The Ivy Room, 320 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Free party for all!

Congratulations to those of you who actually made it into The Ivy Room for what I think is the best, biggest and most generous 'free' food and drink party of the year — and of course to launch the Merivale $33 lunch and dinner menus at nine of its restaurants. I hope I was able to pre warn some of you about the event in my previous post. An early SMS message from a friend outside at 5.55 pm stating the line was huge confirms it was very well attended — in fact over 3000 online RSVPs were received and I heard the line outside stretched down George Street and around to Hunter Street. A big thanks to Renee and Debbie from Merivale who looked after the food bloggers on arrival attending the launch — they really did a great job giving us access to photograph and sample the food before the 6 pm official opening.

Catering for literally a small army of hungry and thirsty punters is a very daunting task but Merivale seemed to cope exceptionally well. The waitstaff should be commended for distributing the Event Kitchen canapés throughout The Ivy Room. They even got plenty of food to the other side of the room and onto the balcony area and remained calm and professional. The chefs did an incredible job under such pressure and were happy to explain their canapés and menus available at their restaurants. Masterchef judges Matt Preston and George Calombaris were spotted amongst the crowd as well as Justin Hemmes, the owner of Merivale, who casually walked around to check out his popular party launch while looking quite relaxed — thank you for giving me the time to take some photos of you. The Ivy Room was a much better venue and setup for catering to large numbers than the Establishment last year which had too many crowd traffic bottlenecks.

The friendly and energetic head chef David O'Brien of the Event Kitchen did a great job in providing countless trays of extra food to the guests. The Figs with Ricotta were deliciously in season and the tasty Poached Prawns with Poached Lemon Mayonnaise were one of the standouts of the night for me — I could have happily enjoyed a whole tray of them. I'm always very impressed with the presentation of canapés by Peter Doyle from est. The Skewer of Serrano jamon, compressed rock melon and nasturtium is a mini work of art — I think I've discovered my next birthday canapé to try and make. The Grilled rangers valley wagyu flank steak with chimichurri sauce from Mad Cow is one of my favourites — seeing the whole tray of it literally made be drool. I fondly remember the Waygu steak with chimichurri at last years launch. Bistro cbd were freshly shucking Hastings River Oysters which were a great treat. I've come around to enjoying the Wagyu penny burgers with spicy mayonnaise this time — the mayonnaise was really tasty and wagyu mouth-watering. The sushi e Spicy Salmon Roll had a definite spice factor and I loved the cbd bistro Chocolate Indulgence which I think was very similar to the Double Chocolate Brownies I thoroughly enjoyed at their 15 years of Dining Tasting Night Event. The Ocean trout ceviche with Thai flavours from lotus was deliciously fresh and sat on a fantastically light cracker. The playful and fun Skewer of prawn crusted with “Tasty Toobs” was a crowd pleaser as well.

Other March into Merivale Launch Party events:
16 Feb 2012 - March into Merivale Launch Party 2012
24 Feb 2011 - March into Merivale Launch Party 2011
16 March 2010 - March into Merivale Launch Party 2010
3 March 2009 - March into Merivale Launch Party 2009

PROS: Free samplings of food and drinks by top chefs, Good service under pressure
CONS: Very popular, very crowded, long lineup, The chefs didn't dress up in their super hero outfits
MUST TRY: Everything as quickly possible — especially the Grilled rangers valley wagyu flank steak with chimichurri sauce


Gingerbread, chicken liver parfait and Tasmanian black currants

Grilled scallop tartare, olive oil, lime juice, washed red onion and pork crackle

Skewer of Serrano jamon, compressed rock melon and nasturtium

Mad Cow
Heirloom tomato, buffalo mozzarella, basil with preserved lemon

Grilled rangers valley wagyu flank steak with chimichurri sauce

Chicken liver pate on crouton


Parmesan and prosecco risotto

Beef and porcini lasagne with quattro formaggi

Pork “Banh Mi” croutons

Skewer of prawn crusted with “Tasty Toobs”

Ocean trout ceviche with Thai flavours

Bistro cbd
Goats cheese and fig tartlet, balsamic glace

Brandade, cured salmon, gribiche, en croute

Chocolate indulgence

Freshly shucked Hastings River oysters

Ash St Cellar
Bouillabaisse with rouille

Sheeps milk labne, beetroot and mustard fruits in a filo tartlet

Roasted Kurobuta pork, green apple and ginger soy sauce

Wagyu penny burgers with spicy mayonnaise

Seared Tasmanian salmon, Amazu ponzu and dried miso

Sushi e
Roast Duck: Shallot with Yuzu Kosho sauce

Establishment Roll

Spicy Salmon Roll

Sushi Choo
Oh no, I must have missed Sushi Choo? Sushi Choo — where are you?

Event kitchen
Event Kitchen waitstaff serving figs with ricotta canapé

Poached prawns with poahed lemon mayonnaise

Fig with ricotta and caramelised almonds

Braised Wagyu Beef Shin with crushed pea salsa

Head Chef of Event Kitchen is David O'Brien

The Drinks

Pre-opening arrival
5.15 pm: Sitting by the Ivy Pool while chefs are getting ready

5.35 pm: Entering the Ivy Room — I felt a Charlie in the Chocolate Factory moment

The calm before the feasting storm

Official photographer

Chefs prepping

Food bloggers doing their thing

5.55 pm sms message — it's going to be a huge event!

Is that!?
Matt Preston (MasterChef judge and food critic) and me

George Calombaris (MasterChef judge and Chef) and Me

Justin Hemmes and me in the Event Kitchen

Blog fan
Paula my supportive blog reader fan comes to say hi — my new PR!

The Ivy Room

Ivy Pool

After party drinks

View Larger Map


joey@forkingaroundsydney said...

Fantastic Simon! What a great night! Love the individual canapes.

Tina said...

Speedy posting! It was a great, fun outing last night.

OohLookBel said...

Very nice photos, and it was great to see you yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Speedy publishing as usual!! Thanks for the pre warning, I was able to get in, but the room filled up very quickly! Great photos you have there!

Unknown said...

"Hey, are you Simon?" Hehehe... did you feel famous in the lift? Fantastic pics from your little camera! Can't believe you don't sleep and posted this already. Hope to bump into you soon so I can do some more PR work for you :)

chocolatesuze said...

hehe youre so fast in posting! did george know you were a blogger?

sugarpuffi said...

wow such a speedy post! and such a bummer i finish work at 6pm so i was being pushed and shoved around like a poor little animal stuck in a stampede with photos all blurry. *sigh*

Jacq said...

Haha first to post as usual ;) I didn't get to try the oysters or the penny burgers :( But great coverage of the event!

Three Wise Pigs said...

I'm very impressed with the photos you took - I was struggling with taking photos of the food considering how crowded this place got last night!

I loved the fig with ricotta!!

Gummi Baby said...

Wow, such a variety of great food! You're so lucky you got to get in before the crowds! Great photos!

Renita said...

Awesome coverage Simon. Your pictures of the penny burgers prove that they exsisted! I was hoping to see some around, but I didn't.

Good question. Where was sushi choo? I heard a rumour that there was more food on level 4 but I thought it was a trap door...

Simon Leong said...

hi joey, so many choices so little time.

hi tina, free things are always fun aren't they.

hi belle, good to see you again too. hope you got to try all the food.

hi anonymous, i have a reputation to uphold with the speedy posts hehe glad you managed to get in ok. hope you enjoyed your night.

hi paula, hey are you a stalker hehe ;-) actually i felt like we had an audience in the lift hehe. as they say it's not the size that matters but how you use it. i tend to post special events as quickly as possible. otherwise i'll never get to do them. see u around. great PR work!

hi chocolatesuze, you know me. can't sleep due to eating so much so what else is there to do but post :-) what did you enjoy the most? looking forward to your post.

hi sugarpuffi, i think you weren't alone in being pushed and shoved. it did make it very difficult to take sharp photos. people go crazy with free food around don't they ;-)

hi jacq, oysters were a challenge to get because they were being freshly shucked but worth it. i love oysters!

hi three wise pigs, definitely a challenge taking photos with so many people around. a word of advice, when you get your canape just find a quiet spot away from the crowd and photograph it then — it's way too difficult taking shots at the table when you have so many people around you.

hi gummi baby, being invited in before the crowds was a HUGE advantage although we only got a 20 minute start because they were running late in their setup. but it's a lot better than nothing for sure. it's a challenge shooting and eating at the same time let alone trying to drink something. i generally shoot and eat first and then worry about getting a drink later.

hi renita, the pennyburgers sure did exist. glad i got one. i should have tried more but there was too many other canapes to move on to. i was told there was drinks and food on level 4 too but i doubt this actually was the case. i think they were trying to get the crowd out of the Ivy Room to make it less crowded. i'm suspecting Sushi Choo never made it to the party.

Mr Taste said...

I reckon I ate at least 15 cubes of that steak, it was the best!

Great to finally meet you too!

Simon Leong said...

hi mr taste, great to meet you too. your so lucky to have so much of the steak. sounds like you ended up with 300 gsm of yummy steak in your tummy. see u at the next event :-)

Simon Food Favourites Map

View Simon Food Favourites in a larger map Key: BLUE - Location visit and review PINK - Simon Favourites and places offering something special

Small Bars in Sydney map

View Small Bars in Sydney in a larger map