I hadn’t seen my Bestie since our last outing together a few weeks ago when we went hunting for my wedding dress. Once we finally did manage to meet up, we had so much to catch up on that it was hard to know where to start. I was excited to hear all about her new yoga business venture that she was embarking upon. I have never seen her so inspired and passionate about something before and it makes me so happy that she has found her calling in life. Not everyone gets to experience such satisfaction.
Late last year during the whole post-Engagement party debacle we stopped in at The Sentinel for a couple of drinks while we were waiting for The George’s manager to get back to us with the whereabouts of my iPod. In sharp contrast to the abrupt, unfriendly service we had received only minutes before at The George; the Sentinel staff all greeted us cheerily as we entered. This jovial attitude left a lasting impression on our memories.
Recalling our previous experience, we decided to return back for a quick lunch in between errands in the city. The Sentinel is owned by Stephen Scaffidi who also owns the popular Bar One. Sentinel’s dining areas are stunning, sophisticated and oh so suave – I simply love all that dark polished wood and massively high ceilings. Initially when the restaurant first opened early 2011 they received a scathing review by The Australian’s veteran food critic John Lethlean. John scored them a measly 1 out of 5. Luckily for them since then it appears they have picked up their game receiving much better recent reports in local restaurant reviews and blog posts.
We bubbled in to the swanky restaurant chitty chatting away like only besties can. Over the moon to be having some quality “bestie-time” as we like to call it we were determined to make the most of this quick and impromptu catch up. I hadn’t called in advance to notify the chef of my allergies and so I was prepared to be given limited choices off their menu. To my surprise, our waiter and the kitchen worked together to provide us with a number of options to choose from and were not bothered at the potential nuisance of my requests.
As we waited for our food to arrive, our waiter brought to the table some complimentary, freshly toasted gluten free bread with whipped butter. This is not something that happens often and I was suitably impressed. As it was only a Monday afternoon, we both initially hesitated as we gazed over the wine list until we saw some champagne and from then on our rubber arms didn’t need any twisting. Glasses of Mumm champagne in hand we settled in quickly and managed to cover a lot of conversational ground in a short space of time, spanning from weddings to people management through to newsletter writing and coconut water! (Which by the way I am totally addicted to at the moment.)
Kate and I planned to share a few entrees together and seeing as I didn’t get the quinoa dish I wanted recently at Cullen Wines I was keen to try The Sentinel’s version. Kate has been a fan of quinoa for years and has been trying to convince me how awesome it is for some time. It was served with roasted beetroot and dollops of tangy smoked goat’s cheese perched on top of some pickled radish. I am starting to understand what she has been going on about – if prepared with the right foods it is a lovely treat. I did however struggle to taste the smoky notes of the goat’s cheese, they were too subtle.
We also ordered the marinated octopus served with julienned carrot and fennel with a fresh lemony chilli dressing. The octopus was lovely and soft without any chewiness. My only gripe was the serving size – way too small for something this tasty (and for the price I guess)!
For our third dish we chose the steak tartare. This is something I have enjoyed a number of times at Rockpool and been blown away every time with its buttery texture and gentle flavours. Recently the Boy and I have been part-time vegetarians so it actually felt a little odd if not a bit scary to eat this dish once again. To make matter less palatable the meat wasn’t quite as fresh as I would prefer if raw. The crisp and peppery watercress helped somewhat to disguise the tainted flavour of the meat.
The potato chips served with this dish were nothing like what we were expecting. I was anticipating some frites, something I consider a classic combination with steak tartare. Instead there were a neat stack of potato crisps. They were cut incredibly paper-thin to the point of being translucent but unfortunately they tasted like stale oil and not much else. This potentially amazing but simple dish was very poorly executed.
Overall our lunch was enjoyable but with a few hits and misses and I would be keen to go back to sample a greater selection of their food in order get a better idea on their overall quality. The service was friendly and efficient and I look optimistically to my next visit.
Like Me on Facebook!Sentinel Bar and Grill 111 St Georges Terrace, Perth 6000 | (08) 6103 0507 | http://www.sentinelbar.com.au/ Price: $$$$ (Entrees/snacks $4.50-21.50, Mains $26.5-45) Food: 2.5/5 (raw meat has got to be fresh) Service: 3.8/5 (brilliant and enthusiastic) Ambience: 4.5/5 (lovely warm décor, very swanky feel to it) Drinks: 4.5/5 (extensive and interesting wine list) Total: 15.3/20
Do you remember when we celebrated our Engagement Party late last year at The George?
Although everyone had a fabulous evening, our night was tainted by some terribly rude attitudes and comments coming from the bar staff upon our departure from the venue. To make matters worse, they then refused to call us any taxis and left us standing outside the hotel well into the wee hours of the morning.
In the course of the following few weeks I tried via various methods to speak with one of the managers in order to retrieve my iPod that I left at the venue. After weeks of her avoiding my contact (including refusing to meet me as I stood outside the venue) it was too late and the iPod was nowhere to be found. I wrote a formal letter of complaint to the Venue Manager detailing all my grievances. I thought some of you may be interested in reading their reply…..
I was extremely disappointed to receive your email late last week. We do value all of the feedback receive both the positive and the occasional feedback that gives the venue something to improve on or fix.
I can appreciate that this has been a frustrating experience for yourself and I would like to thank you for allowing me the time to investigate and ensure that I could get to the bottom of the issues you raised. I have spoken to all the staff members and managers working that night and Katie prior to her leaving on annual leave. I went through your email with them high raised the various matters and got their view as to what happened.
The staff members that were working that evening were spoken to about the profanities that your guests believed were directed at them. They all claim that they did not say anything inappropriate towards your guests, however I have reiterated to all staff members and the management team how unprofessional and inappropriate that kind of behaviour is and that it will not be tolerated here at The George.
In regards to your guests being asked to vacate the venue, Liquor licencing laws state we have to have all patrons off the premises within 15 minutes of our closing time, we have no control or any flexibility with this. Both the managers on duty and the venue are liable for fines if this does not occur, hence why at 1230 your guests who were still on the premise, in breach of our liquor licence, were asked to leave the premises immediately.
I spoken to the manager who was on duty that evening and he reassured me that he did in fact call for taxis for yourself and for your party. However, I do know from past experience that calling for a taxi to the premises often takes significantly longer than both hailing one from the street or walking across the road to the taxi rank. Whilst I can appreciate that two people from your party were unable to make their way down to the taxi rank, I can say that taxis were indeed called. When speaking to the manager on duty, I brought to his attention the importance of tone and delivery and how it can affect the impression left of people and that he needs to be aware of this.
The London Room is open to both tenants of the building and their guests when not booked by The George, and is left unlocked and fully accessible from the foyer of the building. In the three weeks between your function and your email advising of the lost iPod, the room was open and many functions were held in it, functions that were not just booked by The George but also by building tenants who have full access to the room and its facilities, including the Audio Visual system located in the cupboard where the iPod was left. Therefor I cannot say if the iPod was still there when you sent you email three weeks after the function, as we were unaware of its presence.
I have spoke to Katie and she said that she did make several unsuccessful attempts to contact you by phone after your initial email before contacting you via email. I will have a meeting with her when she returns and talk about the length of time it took you to get a response from her and highlight the need to respond promptly to enquiries, especially when it relates to missing property.
I have brought up all of your feedback at our regular management meeting and we have introduced steps to ensure that, in future there are no repeats of your negative experience at The George.
I hope that you will give the venue the opportunity to live up to the high standards for both the food and service they we are know for. With that in mind I would like to offer you a $200 voucher for dinner at The George. If you could please provide me with a suitable postal address I will arrange for the voucher to be sent to you.
If you could contact me directly when you would like to redeem the voucher I can ensure that you have the proper George Experience.
We look forward to seeing you soon.
Venue Manager” (name withheld)
Unbelievable. This is how the manager and his staff choose to resolve this issue: deny, deny deny. Since that night, nearly everyone of my friends have come up to me individually with their own story about something the staff said or did to them. But surely the more likely truthful story is that all 70 of my guests and I would make all these elaborate details up? How insulting. I am not perfect but I am in no way a liar!
And as for their offer of a dinner voucher? After making such a complaint the LAST thing I wanted to do was return to their restaurant to eat their food!!! Cripes. If they were quite happy to blatantly lie to their boss regarding the true events of the evening, I would hate to think was they might do to my food! Thanks but no thanks! Considering the very hefty bill we had at the end of the party an offer of some sort of partial refund would have been more appropriate. Especially when I emailed him to decline his voucher offer.
Since then, it has amused me to note the number of excessively positive reviews on Urbanspoon for both The George and their sister venue The Aviary. Most of these reviewers have never written anything else. With the collection of top-notch eateries opening up along the Terrace this year, I have a sneaking feeling that if The George don’t get their act together and actually start listening to their customers; they may be in for a nasty shock!
Read my original Post: The George and Our Engagement Party
Like Me on Facebook!The George 216 St Georges Terrace, London House, Perth 6000 | (08) 6161 6662 | www.thegeorgeperth.com.au/
What a blissful and sunny start to our day! Starting off with a delicious brunch at the Greenhouse with my family and the boy, the morning got even better when Dad gave me a generously sized suitcase filled to the brim with beautiful Robert Robert and Diavolina shoes. Most importantly, the suitcase contained some super-hot shoes for the party tonight! I headed home with my love to spend the afternoon preparing ourselves to look our very best for the big party. One of my bridesmaids, Amber was so kind to offer to go The George without me earlier in the afternoon so she could set up everything for the night. This meant all I would have to do would be to arrive on time! She is such an angel!
The afternoon flew by surprisingly quickly and before I knew it we only had a short time until things were due to kick off!! I slipped on my shimmering Alannah Hill dress matched with the cutest flower headband, kicked on my most awesome shoes from Dad and jumped in the cab hand in hand with the boy!
Upon our arrival my heart sunk for a brief second as I expected to walk into an ambient lit room and instead was nearly blinded by bright ugly fluoro lighting. I subsequently found that some of Amber’s instructions she had carefully given to the staff about setting up the lighting, heating and visual equipment had not been followed through. Consequently some further little instructions were given to the function staff and they slowly assisted us without an accompanying smile. Not that anything could take the wind out of our wings! Grabbing a quick round of pre-party G&T’s, we all felt our nerves settle ready to greet all the special people in our lives that would join us for our celebrations.
Amber is a very creative person – something my scientific brain is most definitely not – so when she suggested we have a lolly bar at the party I initially struggled to visualise what she actually meant. We had shopped all around town together in the weeks prior to the party buying a collection of gorgeous vintage vases and bowls that she filled to the brim with lots of colourful sweets. It looked fantastic! The boy wasted no time getting stuck into the assortment, tossing handfuls of lollies into his mouth for a strong pre-party sugar kick.
Before guests had even started to arrive, the waitresses started bringing out plate upon plate of turkish bread with dips to scatter around the tables. I rushed up to the waitresses and advised them stop them filling up two little cocktail tables with plates of food and to try and stagger them a bit with the arrival of our guests. The food provided was delicious – a part of me wishes I had stopped talking and mingling among everyone for two seconds to be able to snap some photos, but it didn’t even cross my mind until the following day! I guess us food bloggers should be allow a night off once in a while! The selected canapés including freshly shucked oysters, spring onion aranchini, lamb koftas, sun-dried tomato and asparagus tarts and a variety of sushi rolls. The special gluten-free options included five spiced duck pieces – amazingly succulent little cubes of meat marinated in a sweet chilli caramel sauce. I’m sure I must have greedily gobbled a number of those!
A major feature of the night was the amazing efforts of two of my guests (one of those being Amber) in joining forces together to bake enough cupcakes for seventy people with a third of the cupcakes gluten-free! They sparkled glamorously in the centre of the lolly bar and almost looked too good to eat! Being able to enjoy devouring cupcakes with everyone else at the end of the night was such a treat although the way I stuffed the butter cream frosting into my mouth may not have been so nice!
The highlight of the night to me and my sister was surprisingly not food related. My Mum and stepmum have not spoken words since over twenty years ago when Mum and Dad separated. We have all accepted this and our family events have always been planned separately to accommodate for this. So when I looked over and saw my Dad arm in arm with my dearest Mum on one side and his wife on the other my eyes started to burn hot. My sister came running over to me in amazement and we shared watching this special moment together before flicking away our tears of joy.
Toward the end of the night I wanted everyone to be able to have something more substantial than just the canapés so we arranged for some noodle boxes to come out with sticky pork with ginger, chilli and bok choy. The pork was so scrumptiously juicy and the sticky marinade had nearly caramelised but not burnt. This was the most popular food for the night and I’m sure I saw a few people go back for a second box!
As with all good parties, the night flew by at the speed of light and before I knew it we were standing under those hideous bright fluoros with the reality that it was over. All those weeks of preparation and anticipation for a night that felt like it only lasted one hour! I was extremely chuffed to see that our budgeted bar tab lasted for the whole night and no one had to dip into their pockets to pay for a drink.
After such a fabulous occasion, the events that followed on next totally took me by surprise. Bear in mind that the venue was nearly empty in the main bar for the whole night so our party of 70 people would have been the only real income for the night for The George. As we were all slowly drifting out of the function area and leaving through the main bar a couple of the bar staff got annoyed with us not leaving quickly enough for them. As they walked past the bar, a number of my guests clearly overheard the staff retorting insults and foul language directed at us presumably because they wanted to us to hurry up so they could go home. None of my guests were unpleasant or rude to any of the staff to call for this attack.
We all waited outside The George for what felt like hours all trying desperately to hail cabs. One of my friends had taken a bit of a stack on the pavement and had developed a very swollen ankle (she actually ended up in RPH early that following morning poor thing) so I wanted to get her home quickly. I was also mindful that my dearest mother was keen to get home as she is not accustomed to standing up in her high heels for hours on end anymore. I went back to the front door of the hotel and knocked to get someone’s attention. All the staff were still inside closing up everything for the night. I asked the bartender if he could kindly please arrange us some cabs for us as my friend was injured and many others were tired and ready to hit the sack. He refused and told me to walk down the street to the closest hotel the Hilton where apparently I could find many taxis. I explained to him my friend was injured and couldn’t walk, he then repeated that he wouldn’t call us cabs, and that was that! He closed the door in my face and locked the door!!
After spending thousands of dollars at their venue that night I was completely gobsmacked at such rudeness and appalling service. Despite the actual night being such a wonderful success, it was so disappointing to end on such a sour and unprofessional note.Price: $$$ (Entree $18-21, Mains $25-39) Food: 7.6/10 Service: 3/10 (for the rudeness!) Venue: 4/5 Total: 14.6/25 (58%)
Well, things have gone from bad to worse with the level of customer service that I have received from The George. We left my old iPod touch there on the night of the party and since then I had attempted to contact the functions manager by phone and email to let her know that I would be popping back to collect it on my day off. As I had received no reply, I figured that it’s not too complicated a request to fill so I went into town on my only day off to collect it.Upon arrival my bestie and I spoke to the bartender who explained to us in a curt manner that I needed to speak to her manager. She got her bar manager who happened to be very same person who had bad mouthed to my friends and refused to call us cabs on the night.
I started to explain to him that I had left my iPod behind and had tried to contact the functions manager but had received no reply from her. I purely just wanted to collect my iPod and that was it. He fobbed us off saying that the functions manager was in a meeting and that she couldn’t be disturbed. So I offered to go into the cupboard in the functions room myself to collect it upon which I was then told that she was having the meeting in there so this wasn’t possible. He said to us: “And that’s if you actually have left it here.” If?!?! He offered to call me in an hour when she would be finished her meeting but then uttered that she could be in there for hours so who knows how long she would really be.
My bestie and I popped down the road to the Sentinel for a drink (where the service by the way was very friendly – a total contrast). During this time we received no phone calls from The George. So after one hour we left and made our way back to The George. On my way I called through and asked to be put through to the functions manager, consequently I was put through straight away implying that her meeting was over. She then proceeded to tell me she had no time to walk to the cupboard where I left my iPod and retrieve it for me as she was far too busy! I explained that it was my only day off, I had come into the city specifically and I was 50 metres away! She repeated to me: “I have absolutely no time to search for it, I am very busy and that’s provided you have actually left it here anyway!” She said she would try and call me back by the end of business – it’s now been nearly a week and not a peep!
So it’s been a number of months since all this happened and I thought I better give you dear readers a final report on the outcome with The George…..click to read my Epilogue.The George 216 St Georges Terrace, London House, Perth 6000 | (08) 6161 6662 | www.thegeorgeperth.com.au/
My sister has never been known for her punctuality. That’s not to say I’m an expert in such matters myself however she does tend to take it to the next level. I guess I wasn’t considering this fact when I decided it was a great idea to book an elegant dinner at Fraser’s for the boy and myself, my sister, Dad and our stepmum for the very next day after our Engagement party. We had spent the bulk of the day nursing sore heads and rumbling tummies and feeling the foggy effects of overindulgence and sleep deprivation. So when I saw it was only thirty minutes before our departure time and that she still had not started to get ready for our special dinner I prepared myself again for a late arrival. Surprisingly she managed to get beautified in a whirlwind of hair straighteners and outfit changes for us to arrive an acceptable 20 minutes late. A record for us as a team I’m sure and it makes me wonder why it normally takes her three and a half hours to get ready?!?
My stepmum has never been to Perth before so I wanted to show her the fabulous view of the city at night from King’s Park. Fraser’s offers spectacular views from the restaurant and it seemed like a logical choice. If you exclude a couple of veterinary functions sponsored by drug companies I haven’t actually eaten here in the restaurant before. Such events generally involve far too much wine and networking for the food to even make a mention.
When we arrived at the Duxton for a few pre-dinner drinks, I was relieved to see the little blue bag containing our shiny gift from Tiffany’s had made the journey from The George where it was initially given to us both as our engagement gift, then returned back to their hotel room for the night only to be handed over to us a second time but in a much more sober fashion. As I pulled it out of its box I couldn’t help but admire its shininess. It is a classic Tiffany’s style silver frame which we shall be placing one of the many gorgeous shots of us as a newly engaged couple from the memorable night.
For the duration of our evening, we were all blown away with the high quality of service. Our waiter for the evening named Justin went above and beyond his call of duty to ensure that our every whim was accommodated for. This flexibility and can-do attitude carried right through to the kitchen where the chef Chris Taylor and his team were more than happy to alter dishes and suggest alternative options for us rather than just omitting sauces or key ingredients and serving us half of the intended dish. (See my next review on Clarence’s for a comparison!)
Justin informed us that the chef makes his own gluten-free bread on the premises and recommended we try a couple of serves. It was accompanied by some Baba ghanoush topped with a sprinkling of Dukkah and some fresh butter. It was grainy bread with good texture – poorly made gluten-free bread can turn out very crumbly like cake or worse still very heavy and stodgy like a rock. This bread had just the right balance of flours to create normal bread-like consistency and was matched well with the Baba ghanoush. The only downside which we discovered at the end of the meal was it cost $14 per serve! We got two serves!!
For entrée my sister and I ordered the Grilled WA rock lobster which was served the only way lobster should be; simply with lemon butter. Lobster is one of my favourite seafood creatures to eat, and its unique sweet flavour is often spoilt by complex creamy sauces and heavy cheese. This time round it was fresh and cooked just to perfection, the meat easily tearing delicately away out of its shell and into my mouth!
The boy is a huge sashimi and sushi fan. He has been known to journey over to Kailis Bros Fish Market in Leederville, bypass all the little packets of pre-prepared sashimi cuts of fish and buy a big chunk of tuna and an even bigger chunk of salmon and proudly carve it up at home for us to eat. The sashimi he ordered was brightly coloured and soft and the size of his serve was reasonable given the location and the price. I did think the Fraser’s card on the top of the dish was a little touristy and tacky however.
My Dad wanted the “Soft crab shell” as he called it (we were all still a little exhausted from the night of fun last night) which was only available as part of the tasting plate of the day. Once again the kitchen was very accommodating and was happy to offer this separately as an entrée sized meal. Such an easy task for a kitchen to do yet this is often something that is refused to customers as chefs allow themselves to become nothing more than a line cook preparing meals without alterations. Having eaten his way around the world hundreds of times over the past years, my French-born father is a natural food critic. He was impressed with the amount of meat on the crab and seemed to enjoy it thoroughly.
My stepmum ordered the crab soup which was vibrantly coloured, thick and creamy. Despite all of us commenting our appetites were a little depressed from the evening prior we all managed to gobble up our entrees without complaint ready for our mains.
For mains I ordered the duck which is originally served with a beetroot jus. As with most jus, there was onion contained in the stock so it was not suitable for me or my sister. To our delight this was no problem to our chef who created delicious gluten-free, onion-free brandy butter jus to pour over the duck instead. Both my sister and the boy also ordered the duck and commented to me that a few of their pieces were a little overcooked and dry. I must have been the lucky one at the table as every piece of my duck was juicy and scrumptious and I could not complain.
Our side dishes were fairly standard and unexciting except for the salt roasted potatoes which looked a little bit like the eggs from the movie Aliens but they tasted absolutely divine. As we watched the smoke from a bushfire roll in over the city like a blanket we all started to infect each other with our yawns. We realised just how exhausted we all were and skipped ordering dessert to head home for some well-earned rest.
In my sleepy content state I foolishly left the little blue bag behind at the restaurant and didn’t realise this until the boy shouted as we drove off in the cab: “The Tiffany’s present!!!” My heart literally jumped into my throat and I was completely awake in a second! Before the boy had even managed to jump out of the cab; lo and behold we see Justin our waiter running toward us clutching our treasure in his hand. This gesture just clinched the deal that I’m happy to say this is the best customer service we have received in Perth for a long time! My opinions of Fraser’s have been completely turned around from previously feeling it may be a bit of an overpriced tourist trap to now understanding that you simply get what you pay for. I look forward to our return; we just might have to save up for a while!
Score Food 8.7/10 Service 9.5/10 Venue 8.6/10Fraser’s Restaurant Fraser Avenue, King’s Park, Perth 6005 | (08) 9481 7100 | frasersrestaurant.com.au