Should I attend Taste of Melbourne 2012?


Win prizes by reviewing restaurants for Google and Zagat

The good news is that after years of decline Taste of Melbourne has rejuvenated itself, upgrading the restaurants exhibiting their food and moving to Albert Park.

The bad news is that if the weather turns bad – and the forecast is for showers and a temperature that won’t rise above 19C – then you’ll be damp and cold queueing for your credits and food at the MoVida and Mamasita stalls on the grass left patchy from the Grand Prix.

You’ll find plenty of gushing reviews of Taste of Melbourne thanks to free hospitality and a chauffeur driven tour of exhibiting restaurants for bloggers who were required to guarantee publicity.

This is an independent view despite receiving a media pass to the VIP launch. It was backed by free champagne, a cold wind, intermittent showers and some men I’d never heard of from London giving awards for the best dishes of the show. The best was judged to be Albert Street’s Minted Mermaid – a peas and mint soup costing 10 credits. The runners up were Mamasita’s Cerdo en Nogada – mulato rubbed pork fillet, walnut sauce, raisins – and The Botanical’s Yuzu cloud, coconut pearls and guava sorbet.

The first night wasn’t busy but the queues for Mamasita were as long as they are down the stairs and onto Collins Street in town – with the credits tent and MoVida attracting equal crowds.

So what do you get for your money? Entrance is $30 unless you can snaffle a free ticket. Credits ($1=1) have to be bought in round numbers with smallish savoury dishes mostly costing 10 to 12 and desserts 8. The most expensive dish is Mr Hive’s dessert bar flavours for 30.

It’s going to cost $60 without a drink. It’s easily an $80-100 day out for an individual, which makes it comparable to eating out at any one of the exhibitors’ restaurants if you are careful in ordering.

What I like is the curated choice of restaurants that, in addition to those mentioned above, include The Atlantic, The Aylesbury, Libertine, Mahjong, The Point, Sake, Taxi Dining and Josie Bones.

The interesting thing is that the newspapers don’t engage with this event leaving space for Google and Zagat, which launched in Australia this year, to exhibit and offer prizes of notebooks and headphones for voting on their restaurant listings, which will be published on Google Maps (much as Yelp is published on Apple maps)

If you don’t get out to restaurants often then it is probably worth a visit; if you live in them or are a cynic like me then you’ll want to stay away.

The thing to remember is to pick a sunny gap in the weather, wrap up well as bitter onshore winds blow across Albert Park and bring a sturdy umbrella.

Oh, and your left over credits you couldn’t spend? I can’t help on that I’m afraid.

10 Responses to “Should I attend Taste of Melbourne 2012?”

  1. Stuart Gardner-Vaughan

    It’s sad when these events make the inevitable transition from a change for providers of fine produce (food, wine, etc) to exhibit their wares, into a blatant money making exercise! It happens to the best of them – see Taste of Tasmania – http://www.tastefestival.com.au/

  2. Soula

    I went 2 years ago and found it too expensive
    $30 to get in then buying crowns sure did add up
    You even have to use crowns just to get a sample from the producers or stores that are there
    As someone who has access to many of these brands st my local market there was no use to it

  3. Jono

    The whole thing was a bit of a rip off.

    Pay all that to stand around and eat pre prepared food in the dust?

    -Some foreward planning would have shown that there were not enough freaking seats? Jesus! Come on people.

    -If you’re going to pay decent $ to get in somewhere, then more decent $ to have some nice food, at least give us a seat.

    -The whole thing somehow felt unfair, what with all the restaurants sitting back and smiling with the long queues of people just hanging to drop $14 for half a portion of their signature dish. All the while the local producers are out their literally throwing food away just to get your attention. Then the layout made it feel like you were awkwardly hovering too close over someone you don’t know’s shoulder all the while trying to get a look in at each of the marquees. I guess you just need to go to a less busy day session to avoid this…

    Each to their own I guess. I’m just jaded, because $90 at the Spanish festival would have been one hell of a saturday night….

    Unless you get a free ticket, a retweet, a glass of champagne and some free hits on your blog, the only thing you’ll get out of taste of melbourne is some comprehensive education on how not to waste your $$.

    Jono

    • Stephen

      Couldn’t agree more.

      I got a free ticket, and still thought that it was expensive!

      It didn’t feel that I was tasting anything from the restaurants, just that I was buying as per normal.

      Very elitist as well – you felt that you were imposing on their area when trying order food

  4. Stephen

    Been tonight – to be honest it was a bit disappointing. Bulk food produced, and then held behind the counter. Go up and order and they pick one up and pass it through.

    Taxi’s pork was beautiful on the first taste, but the second serve was half the size and nearly cold.

    Poorly laid out, poorly mapped.

    I never got into the vibe of the place, it seemed very disjointed everywhere.

    And very expensive. $10 for a mini lamb burger from Botanical was a waste. It was worth $5-6 tops.

    Great idea to have it outside, but the layout, and the way each marquee was built made it hard to move around, and even harder to get in close to talk to the producers / owners of each stall.

  5. Adam

    Hi Ed,

    You can actually use your leftover Crowns to purchase food items from any one of the 100 exhibitors at Taste; smoked salmon, jams, booze, macaroons. Whatever takes your fancy really!

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