13 January 2011

Centennial Hotel: Simon's 40th Hawaiian Birthday Luau, Woollahra (8 Jan 2011)

88 Oxford Street, Woollahra NSW 2025

Turning the big 40

For such a milestone age it was important for me to decide how and where to celebrate my 40th birthday. For many years my brother has graciously allowed me to have it at his place where we self-cater the food but this year I wanted to have a more relaxing time and make it less stressful for myself and those involved in helping. I scouted high and low for suitable venues and was really hoping for a place with a water view of some sort like the Deck Bar Lounge at Club Rose Bay, Fish Bar at Beach Palace Hotel or ECQ Bar at Quay Grand but in the end I decided on the Centennial Hotel after a casual drink visit back in November which didn't impose a minimum spend or charge for room hire. The final guest list of 96 adults and 5 kids were treated to welcome drinks of Redbank Emily NV sparkling which service staff topped up around the room plus fruit juice and soft drink was available from the bar all night. My traditional Hawaiian theme created a friendly atmosphere filled with colourful leis and shirts.

There was a big risk in ordering food from a place I'd never eaten at — especially for a food bloggers reputation — but I was thankfully very impressed with the canapés I ended up choosing for my guests. The kitchen accommodated my additional menu requests of Vietnamese Prawn Fresh Rolls which were filled with fresh ingredients, delicious Vegetarian Spring Rolls and decently sized Vegetarian Arancini Balls — I really loved the crispy spring rolls which all seemed to be kitchen made and full of flavour. Platters of Zucchini Fritters seemed to be a hit and the Cheese and Spinach Triangles had a nice flaky outer pastry and tasty filling inside which also seemed homemade as well. Decently sized Chicken Satay sticks were last to be served which were tender and moist although not quite as authentically charred and smokey in style which you'd love to find in a good Malaysian restaurant.

I always try and create a birthday cake which doesn't involve cutlery, plates and can simply be eaten with one hand. Cupcakes was the choice this year and I nearly decided to get the mini size from The Cupcake Factory at $1 each but instead bought 11 packs of mini cupcakes ($3.99 for 9) from Coles for less than half the price and presented them on white platters and arranged as the number 40 — a nice sugar hit of plenty of E numbers to end the formal proceedings of the night. I was very impressed with the professionalism and friendliness of the bar staff and how the platters of canapés were distributed around to the guests swiftly. Having my birthday at a catered venue certainly allowed me more time to mingle with my guests and enjoy the food and drinks at the same time — perhaps I should think about doing this next year.

A very cool canvas picture of myself was secretly organised so guests could write their birthday wishes and to help promote some of my Top 10 Food Highlights of 2010 I made everyone a handy little Happy Foodie New Year booklet. I received many generous presents and an amazing gift collection to go towards purchasing a brand new digital SLR camera which I've always dreamed about — I'm doing lots of research to decide what to get now. I'm truly honoured to know so many lovely friends and from the bottom of my heart I thank them so much for making my night very special and memorable.

Other birthdays for Simon:
15 Jan 2012 - Simon's 41st Birthday - Coach and Horses Hotel
8 Jan 2011 - Simon's 40th Birthday - Centennial Hotel
10 Jan 2010 - Simon's 39th Birthday BBQ
4 Jan 2009 - Simon's 38th Birthday BBQ

PROS: Friendly and professional service, Tasty canapés, Plenty of free street parking, Spacious area, No minimum spend or room hire
CONS: No dancefloor, Closes at midnight, No water views
MUST TRY: Other dishes from the menu next time

Redbank Emily NV ($29.80/bottle)

Redbank Emily NV sparkling chilling for welcome drinks

Vietnamese Fresh Rolls (20 pieces @ $45 platter)

Vegetarian spring rolls (20 pieces @ $45 platter)

Vegetarian arancini balls (20 pieces @ $45 platter)

Zucchini fritters (20 pieces @ $45 platter)

Cheese and spinach triangles (20 pieces @ $45 platter)

Chicken satay (20 pieces @ $50 platter)

Fries ($7.90 bowl)

Mini cupcakes ($3.99/pack of 9 from Coles)

40th birthday cake made from mini cupcakes

Final drink of the night: Pimms and lemonade to start off my gentleman's age of 40

Helium party balloons from Balloon Saloon — service was very friendly and professional 'It's always a party at Balloon Saloon'

Reserved area with private bar access

Gift collection card from all the friends that contributed towards a new digital SLR camera

Guest birthday wishes

Happy Foodie New Year Card — 10 highlights of 2010

Front bar and lounge area

Front bar area

Restaurant at the back

Back bar area


Mel said...

Happy birthday. Looks like a great night...lots of yummy food and I love your idea for a cake.

Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said...

Happy belated birthday! Food looks great and I love the idea of the canvas for people to sign.

joey@forkingaroundsydney said...

Happy belated birthday Simon! Also love your idea for a cake. I hope you celebrated hard! :-)

thang@noodlies said...

looked like a fantastic birthday.. sorry i missed it, happy belated birthday mate.

good to see you have viet fresh rolls on the menu!

OohLookBel said...

You're looking good at 40, Simon! The food at your party looks delicious, too. And what camera have you decided on?

BGDino said...

Happy belated birthday!

sugarpuffi said...

Happy Birthday!!! Grats on the big four-o!! Looks like you had a great time :) The canvas was so sweet!!

Nugmeg said...

Happy belated birthday, Simon!

susan said...

Happy birthday Simon! Looks like a great event!

The Book Harvest said...

Happy Birthday Simon! Also love the idea of the canvas, I think I may have to borrow that one day! All the best for an exciting year ahead :D

Belinda said...

A big Happy Birthday to you :) Looks like a fab party - cheers Belinda.

Melissa said...

happy birthday simon!! that looks like a really fun celebration.. hope you had a good one.

Simon Leong said...

hi melbatoast, i'll have to start thinking about what i'll do for my next years cake now.

hi mademoiselle délicieuse, the canvas is such a cool idea.

hi joey, thanks for the wishes, was a big night for all.

hi thang, it's not a real party without fresh rolls ;-)

hi bel, thanks. in terms of a camera i'm still researching. what do you have and what lens? was thinking perhaps one of the canon EOS range.

hi BGDino, thank you

hi sugarpuffi, looking forward to seeing you at the festival events this year

hi nugmeg, thanks heaps

hi susan, it's so much easier when other people prepare the food and drinks.

hi The Book Harvest, be my guest in using the canvas idea :-)

hi Belinda, thank you so much.

hi Melissa, was a great one :-)

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