By Jo Rittey


Sometimes life offers us serendipitous moments and we feel bathed in the golden light of good fortune. A couple of months ago, I had a chat to David Ricardo, the Executive Chef for the Marriner Group venues; the Plaza Ballroom, the Forum Theatre, the Regent Theatre, Princess Theatre and Comedy Theatre.


David is softly spoken and seems as though he would be completely unflappable, which is a good thing, considering he oversees the creation of fine dining meals from 150 to 1200 guests at a time. Before we sat down to chat, he showed me the ballroom, an exquisite heritage-listed venue in the heart of Melbourne. I was immediately seized with desperation to somehow eat there; for both David’s food and for the theatrical elegance of the venue.


Luckily for me, in a living-life-like-it’s-golden turn of events, last week I was invited to an intimate lunchtime degustation in the ballroom.


The space is breathtaking, otherworldly even. The architecture dates back to its original build in 1929 and features expansive high ceilings, mesmerising Spanish Rococo architecture, Juliet balconies and glittering vintage chandeliers. You cannot help but feel special here.


David believes that function and event style dining should echo the same level of passion and quality that Melbourne has come to expect from its restaurant culture. There is certainly no fear of the beef/chicken/beef/chicken style of dining so often encountered at corporate events and weddings.


Our menu was a carefully curated glimpse of what David and his team are capable of; six courses of exquisite and imaginative food. It would be difficult to choose a favourite from the starter of seared tuna starter with its apple dashi, pickles and wasabi sherbet, the duck egg and ancient grains entrée with its miraculous parmesan marshmallow or the charred octopus, sweet corn, chorizo and potato. Then there was the Flinders Island salt grass lamb with dukkah, medjool dates and green pepper caramel and the two desserts; coconut mousse with Italian meringue and the finale of dark chocolate mirror cube with blackberry, sudachi and tuille dentelle. Each course was matched with a local wine, making the whole experience extraordinary.


Whether it is a Gala Dinner, awards night, cocktail function, wedding or presentation, an event at the Plaza Ballroom cannot help but be memorable.



191 Collins Street, Melbourne



Jo has an exotic (kiwi) accent, loves good food and wine and has just a touch of the required culinary cynicism when it comes to the misuse of apostrophes and the hype over kale.





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