Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Geek Girl Dinner - Mac's Brew Bar

Last week Wellington Girl Geek Dinners held the last dinner for 2010, with a Christmas theme. I've been to a couple of these dinners before (in April and August) and they're great fun - the idea is that women working in technology can get together and gossip amongst ourselves, without the ever-present menfolk. While I don't mind at all working in a male-dominated area it is nice sometimes to get away from them. ;-)

The dinners consist of a couple of speakers, food, and lots of chatting with fellow geeks. They're subsidised to encourage us girly geeks to network, so it usually ends up being a pretty good value night out. 

Last Wednesday's dinner was held at Mac's Brewbar, and there were two speakers - Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, who spoke on her project "Ghosts in the form of Gifts", which started as an installation for Massey University and has grown beyond that - really cool concept, and Tara Sutherland, a.k.a. Dive Mistress, who told us about her cool diving gadgets and showed us some amazing photos. Both speakers were excellent (as always) and there are interviews online with both Bronwyn and Tara, in case you're interested. But, you know me, always focused on the food. ;-)

Mac's had recommended the buffet, probably because of the size of our group, and I have to precede this by saying I am generally not a buffet fan so could be a bit biased. 

There were some salads and bread rolls (though some of the salads were pretty low by the time I made it to the table); steamed veges (swimming in butter), spuds, spinach and ricotta (or other uncertain cheese product, the server didn't seem to know), turkey, and ham.

I loaded up my plate - I skipped the ham since it always seems to taste the same to me, off a buffet, and though I like carving thick slices off my parents' Christmas ham at the bach and sandwiching it between fresh bread with lots of tomato and black pepper, hot ham is something I can live without.

The Greek salad was nice enough, though the others went the way salads often go on buffets - so drenched in dressing it seems a bit fruitless having them (aren't they supposed to be the healthy bit?). I do love me some nice potatoes (though it would have been nice to have salt and pepper on the table) but I didn't really enjoy the rest. The turkey was pretty dry (someone did tell me the ham was nice, but since I skipped that I can't really say) and unexciting, and I felt pretty sorry for the vegetarians in the crowd, because the ravioli was gluggy, very oily and the flavour of the filling was fairly indistinguishable. Pretty average, really.

On to dessert, then (after much ado by the staff, who were a tad disorganised). Two options (the only time I like a buffet is when it's a dessert buffet, and then it must have many, many delectable treats to choose from - having only two options takes the fun out of it somehow) - pavlova, and Christmas pudding with brandy cream. It seemed that they had two pavlovas to stretch through all 40 or 50 of us, which was fairly optimistic, but the server was doing her utmost to cut slices as tiny as possible and she nearly made it (the last few people got individual serve pavs, which I guess are what they use for plated desserts). The Christmas pudding looked pretty unappetising - I hardly saw anyone take any - and I didn't even know about the brandy cream until I checked the menu on the website later, so I gave it a miss. The pavlova was within acceptable parameters for pavlova, but the serving was pretty small (isn't the appeal of the buffet that you can have as much as you want?).

So all in all it was a pretty disappointing meal - sorry, Mac's, but I definitely don't recommend this as a good meal option for groups - the function space was quite nice, loads of room, and it's well located, but the food just didn't cut it.

For the $25 per head we paid to attend it was a good value for a night out - but the actual cost per head is much higher and even $25 would be too much if it was only about the food!

As ever, though, Amber did a wonderful job of organising and it was lovely to meet new people and catch up with others - shame about the dinner. ;-)

Do you think there's such a thing as a good buffet? And am I being too harsh, or do you think Mac's might need to lift their game?


  1. Definitely have to agree with your summary about the food at Mac's - though also have to say at least it was an improvement on when we had our work Christmas dinner there a few years ago and got served 'meat' from a roll!

    Was particularly disappointed with the pav servings, really quite stingy. And also the fact they had a server on the meat stations meant you were rationed your portion there too.

    Still, as you say, fully appreciate Amber's organising, and at least the speakers and the company were great :-)

  2. that meal looks tragic :(

    It annoys me what some places get away with during the festive season (+ other times...)they are happy to take the $ but deliver a substandard product!!

  3. The buffet was shit, and also stingy, so yeah, not good. I'm not a fan of Xmas fare in bulk at the best of times.

  4. Hmmm - I thought it was ok, but a) I had low expectations and b) I was starving. Nothing to get excited over, but buffets rarely are. Sometimes a good breakfast or dessert buffet will knock my socks off, though!

    I enjoyed meeting the women at my table and really liked Tara's presentation. Bronwyn's was interesting, too, but she made about 3 too many anti-American comments for my liking - she may have forgotten a) there may be Americans in the room and b) we have feelings, too.

    All in all, good night!

  5. Kate, I am pleased we managed to skip the 'meat' product - it sounded pretty foul.

    Becs, I know! I know they need to make a profit, and we're paying for staffing and the room, but people are buying drinks as well and it does really seem like they just didn't try.

    Joanna, I totally agree - I actually think Christmas dinner should be left for Christmas Day, and would probably never order it if given the choice. Oh well...

    Mary, sometimes whatever fills the stomach does the trick. ;-) It wasn't bad, I just felt it wasn't worth the price tag and compared with the food at Lagerfield it was a big let-down. Glad someone enjoyed it though - at least there were some non-grinches in the room. ;-)

    I didn't completely agree with some of Bronwyn's opinions, it's fair to say - but her project is pretty interesting so I tried to focus on that. ;-)

  6. There is no such thing as a good buffet!

  7. I'm certainly yet to meet one! :-)


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