Photo thanks to Scenic Adelaide.
date of visit: Tuesday 16 August 2011
Often a meal out, especially to a pub, simply involves turning up, ordering a chicken schnitzel parmigiana, eating said schnittie and then going home. There’s not a lot that’s taxing on either side of the hospitality fence. However, I recently volunteered to organise a dinner out for about 20 people with some difficult BYO requirements (everyone would be bringing a bottle and we really needed a set price per head, to make paying easy). Generally, I love organising stuff (that’s why I volunteered) and I find it really interesting seeing how different businesses deal with slightly left of centre requests.
So, I began by ringing around a couple of venues to see what could be done. The first venue, I was told flatly that they don’t ‘do’ BYO. A subsequent venue, even after I’d explained what I was after, wanted to limit BYO to 6 bottles (for 20 people, can you be serious?!) and then grudgingly decided that perhaps they could handle additional bottles … but by this point, they’d lost the customer.
And then I rang the Seven Stars. The last time I went here I would have been in uni and probably on a pub crawl of some sort. But I’ve seen the pub’s name pop up on twitter in a positive context and it rates highly on Urban Spoon so I figured it was a good next step. The first person I spoke to wasn’t sure if they would be able to accommodate my requests but, without any prompting, went off to fetch her manager. He was really helpful and said that it wouldn’t be a problem to accommodate us and he could put together a few menus, with costs, that we could choose from.
Best of all, he was happy to email me this information! When the email arrived, he’d booked us into the hotel’s Courtyard Room and provided four different menu options for us (all inclusive of the BYO charge). I opted for a choice of two entrées from the hotel’s function menu and then a cut down selection from the à la carte menu.
Because the booking experience had been so painless, I encouraged everyone in the group to turn up and have a couple of drinks before dinner. The whole evening ran smoothly – we had spittoons provided, the food was good* (well, I was happy and the people immediately around me were happy – including one person who’d ordered a steak which was cooked to order), and the hotel even provided us with extra glasses. When it came to paying, they were happy to accommodate us paying individually, to save us the hassle of trying to sort out change.
The whole experience made me realise how important service is. The fact that the food was good was just icing on the cake. Most people did turn up early and have a couple of drinks, someone in our group bought a couple of bottles of bubbly mid-way through the meal and plenty of people were ordering coffees when I left. On a quiet (and very wild and wintery) Tuesday night I imagine most pubs in Adelaide would have been quite pleased to have our group spending some money.
And I, for one, will be more than happy to return to the Seven Stars. Thumbs up for a team that obviously knows what it’s doing!
*For the record, I had herb marinated lamb skewers to start, which were nicely juicy and not remotely overcooked as is always the risk with function food, followed by beer battered fish and chips, which were definitely a cut above a standard pub fish and chip dinner.