Melbourne Cricket Ground
Dress code applies.
Ph: (03) 9284 2300
For big match days, members can register to join the ballot on the Monday two weeks before the match. Details http://www.mcg.org.au/
IT'S Grand Final week and time to turn our attention to the footy.
Eating at the footy is not usually a memorable affair unless you've had an invitation to a fancy corporate box. Otherwise it's pies, jam donuts and hot dogs, washed down with a light beer or coke, all at exorbitant prices.
At the MCG on Saturday night I exploited my underused MCC membership to fork out a bit more to dine at the Member's dining room before the game.
As much as I grieved over the loss of the old MCC pavilion, the 1920s brick entrance, the historic dark green wrought iron gates and grand old stand, the old dining room was nothing to write home about.
Tucked away in a labyrinth of bars, corridors and meeting rooms, it was dark and musty, and served up gravy soaked roasts with soggy vegies your 95-year-old Nanna would love.
In dazzling contrast, the relatively new dining room, which opened in 2005, is a light-filled glass-encased space with floor to ceiling views of the hallowed MCG turf on one side, and views of the city skyline on the other.
The MCC logo is emblazoned on the carpet, and there is an abundance of wood panelling to remind diners they are in "the members". But the sizeable TV screens popping out of the ceiling and one gigantic screen on the back wall, replicating a sports bar at Crown Casino, brings the venue back down to earth with a thud.
As for the food, the menu is pitched perfectly to its audience (mainly middle-aged men) and the season.Time wasn't on our side so we tucked straight into the mains with char grilled Portland beef eye fillet served on blue cheese mashed potato with asparagus and red wine jus ($35), lamb rump marinated in dukkah spices on a prosciutto, thyme and white bean cassoulet ($31.5), and a pork cutlet dish with mango chutney, potatoes and cabbage ($27.50).
The other main on offer was crispy skin fillet of barramundi on a lemon aioli, caper and red onion potato salad with Mount Zero olive tapenade ($28.50). All mains came with a side dish of broccoli. Quality bread and butter was also served.
Four entrees include sweet potato, ginger and lemongrass soup with scallop, coriander oil and kaffir lime leaf ($14), harissa spiced lamb fillet on current, pine nut and coriander cous cous with lemon yoghurt dressing ($18), crisp honey roasted duck breast and duck rillettes with herb sprouts and blackberry, walnut vinaigrette ($17) and sautéed garlic prawn tails, with roasted beetroot, zucchini and chervil salad with a balsamic and avocado oil dressing ($20).
For dessert things look even better with a vanilla crème brulee and almond biscotti ($15), baked papaya cheesecake with poached pineapple, lime compote and cashew praline ($15), mandarin and lime tart with rhubarb compote, mint syrup and clotted cream ($15).
There's also a cheese plate featuring King Island blues and bries with muscatel grapes and fig paste ($13).
But the best was yet to come. On completion of the first sitting before venturing through the glass to our reserved seats to watch the footy, diners are offered the chance to order "supper" for half time.
Mini scones, jam and double cream, party pies (they looked like Boscastles), sausage rolls and traditional chicken sandwiches were served up with tea and coffee. Top marks for the cute novelty factor.
Washed down with Crown Lagers for the boys and a Yarra Valley Pinot Noirs for girls from a good wine list, it was frankly, an impressive football spread.
The food is done by catering company Epicure who are at pains to source local produce wherever possible, and it shows. There's a function centre-type feel to the place - especially on big match days when the room is chokka-block, and with staff in those matching and ill fitting uniforms - because away from match days, that's exactly what the venue becomes.
The upside is being able to watch the footy through the glass without leaving your table, and being allocated reserve seating just out the front for when you do want to join the action, in arguably some of the best seats in the place.
I should also mention the dining room is for members and their guests only - MCC's waiting list is about 15 years at the moment.
Overall a really enjoyable and unique dining experience with decent food and a good wine list at reasonable prices.