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?