Anybody tried out the food at the new Convention Centre yet?
I have just found out this years WALIS conference (9-10th Feb) is going to be there and I am wondering what we are in for.
The last conference I went to at Burswood had mediocre food & drink to say the least. Room temperature 'Hot' and 'Cold' foods, and the hot water urns were barely warm at best and contaminated with coffee , which for a tea drinker like myself is an unforgivable sin.
(Who has made an exception to the no smilies rule this one time)
OK, here we go, the official New Convention Centre food review.
Day 1 at the WALIS Conference in the New Convention Centre: (WA Land Information Service)
In between GIS (Geography Information Systems) keynote talks, presentations and workshops I spent a good part of the day browsing the food at the new convention centre. I think my workmate Claire neatly described it when she said, "Too much sophistication, not enough taste".
Morning Tea Tea, Coffee, Water and Harvey Fresh Orange juice were provided to drink, served from very cool looking space age urns. Pleasingly none of the urns were allowed to run out during any of the busy break periods during the day, and the juice was kept topped up all day. The taste of the water was good, and a very nice range of herbal and traditional teas were laid out and replenished as needed. The cups were the usual catering white shortarses, but had thin enough handles to make them usable. Milk, Skim & Soy milk was provided, as well as sugar and artificial sweetener. The Milk jugs were very artistic and well designed with an excellent pouring spout so you didn't dribble any.
The biscuits provided were very artistic, and all tasted vaguely the same. Bland, with a small hint of cinnamon, chocolate or coffee depending on which one you took. They did keep replenishing the supply, but these were what my Nanna would have called "unwanted visitor biscuits". They looked pretty but didn't encourage you to eat more than one.
Lunch. The food was... interesting. Two sets of three tables were laid out end-to-end and people walking along loading up their plates. Quite a queue developed as there were 500+ people to be fed, but everything was quickly replaced as it was depleted. The first table was an array of breads. Poppy, Turkish, Rye and a flour coated European style bread were provided. All of them looked very nice, but were absolutely tasteless with the yum factor of cardboard. Most people left their piece on their plate uneaten I noticed (as did I). The next table had several bowls of salad at the start. They seemed to consist of nothing but alfalfa sprouts and rocket(?) lettuce with a drizzle of white vinegar over the top. A bitter and unappetizing salad anyway.
The next platters on the 2nd table had samozas and party pies, all completely coated in either sesame seeds (90%) or poppy seeds (10%). As I am mildly allergic to sesame I was pleased that they had (possibly) noted this on my registration form and put out a small quantity of non-sesame coated stuff. Sadly the party pies can best be described as gritty in texture because of the over-use of poppy seeds, with a bitter and over spiced filling. The Samozas had a very bland chemical tasting curry filling, and I scraped off the poppy seeds so they didn't ruin the otherwise nice flaky pastry.
There was also a plate of 'vegetarian' quiche that seemed to consist of 1/3 olives. I wasn't brave enough to try it, as the people in the queue in front of me seemed to spend a lot of time picking out the olives as they ate. I was later told by vegetarian colleague that olives are meant to be a garnish, and that was the worst quiche she had ever had. Besides the bread, this seemed to be the item most left uneaten after lunch.
The next couple of platters on the 2nd table were covered in fruit; Watermelon, Dewmelon, Pineapple, Strawberries and Kiwi fruit. All very nice, and it ended up being what most people filled up on I discovered in later conversation (including myself). One again it was all quickly replaced as soon as depleted.
The third small table had an array of cheeses and crackers laid out. Unfortunately once again sophistication seems to have won out over taste, as all of the cheeses were bland to the point of tastelessness. And while I have never seen such an array of different shaped crackers they all 'tasted' exactly the same: bland.
Afternoon tea was a repeat of Morning tea, which was slightly disappointing as most conferences you go to try to have different food and biscuits every meal.
Day 2 at the WALIS Conference in the New Convention Centre:
Somebody must have paid attention to the complaints about the food.
Morning Tea: The biscuits were yummy, with at least a dozen different varieties, all baked (no Arnott's here). Combined with the excellent tea (or Coffee) it made for a much nicer morning tea. Once again the plates were replenished as soon as they were emptied.
Lunch: This time instead of cardboard bread and dubious salads there were delicious Crumbed fish pieces, Sushi & Salmon rolls (which I am told were excellent - I'm not a raw fish fan), falafels, spiced chicken in rolls, Ham & chutney rolls and Waldorf salad. There were also chilli Samozas and savoury sausage rolls, and the quiche made a return sans olives and was quite delicious. The excellent fruit platter from the previous day was also there, and was joined by an entire table of delicious desserts. Strawberry cheesecake slices, chocolate cake, fudge cake, Pavlova lemon rolls and several other things beyond my ken were provided. All extremely delicious and quite sophisticated enough for me :)
Afternoon Tea started out with the leftover biscuits from the morning, but sadly as those went they were replaced with the tasteless biscuits from the previous day.
So to sum up this review I would state that the new Convention Centre can put on good food if they try, but can have "Too much sophistication, not enough taste" to quote Claire again.
Because of the experience of the first day I can only rate the place a 7 out of 10. It would be slightly lower, except for the seemingly unlimited quantities of food provided and the fact that most of the first day was simply bland to the point of boredom rather than actually bad.
Last modified February 11th, 2005, 12:34pm by Mark