It was set up with good intentions, and I should have read the fine print. Merivale’s public relations person mailed me an invite to join other food media and bloggers to their gala launch of their restaurant promotion, “March into Merivale”. I failed to notice the “earlier” party and they failed to mention a time, so I showed up fashionably late. Big mistake.
By the time I got there, every person who had ever wanted to get into The Ivy pool area but never made it past the face police showed up to feast on the free alcohol and abundant nibblies from The Ivy’s stellar line-up of chefs. It was like the cast of Lost had suddenly stumbled upon a Shake Shack in the middle of the jungle. The savages were hungry, and they leapt for anything that lived in a piece of crockery or hovered, for mere seconds at least, on a tray.
I had a few bites, but quickly realised that the offerings weren’t going to do the quality team of chefs, and their respective restaurants, much justice, so I said a few quick hellos. Lauren Murdoch from Ash St Cellars was scurrying to deliver cups of her Asian fish soup as fast as she could. I told her she needed more apprentices to do the dirty work. “It wouldn’t help,” she smiled. “I put out a hundred of them, and they went in seconds. I put out two hundred, and same thing.” I also had a passing chat with the man himself, Justin Hemmes, who was nice enough to stop, even though it was obvious he was firmly on the room circuit. Massimo Bianchi also confirmed that he was surviving, as he dished out takeaway pints of risotto.
While the launch may have not precisely been my cup of tea, there is an amazing line-up of events at The Ivy and other Merivale properties this month. Among my personal picks are the Monday night movies at Ash Street Cellar, paired with meals to match; and if there’s any room at tomorrow’s Janni Kyritsis dinner with Lauren Murdoch, that should be a fantastic night. To promote each restaurant, Merivale is offering $33 sample menus in March, so it’s a pretty opportune time to check out Ash St, Sushi e, Mad Cow, Uccello, Lotus, Sushi Choo, Bistro CBD and – the obvious choice – Peter Doyle’s three-hat cooking at Est.
I’d tell you more, but it’s easier to just check out the website for more details. Have a gander at www.marchintomerivale.com and maybe see you at La Dolce Vita at Ash St on the 1st – I’m assuming double-dipping will be an accepted practice, at least for one night.