Anyone who wants to make the special occasion of a trip to one of Australia’s major metro race tracks to take in one of the big days of spring thoroughbred racing even more special, might want to consider booking a dining package at one of the many top-class dining facilities at the tracks.
Here is some information regarding restaurants and race day packages for racetracks in Victoria and New South Wales. The best advice we can offer is that many of the more popular packages can sell out well in advance of the races, so planning and commitment is necessary in order to best enjoy a luxury dining experience.
One of the most compelling reasons to take the fine dining route for a day at the races is the all-inclusive nature of the various packages. It is common that a reservation not only includes some fine food, but also admission to the racecourse, racebooks, a reserved table for use throughout the meeting, at-table drink service, and private betting facilities and reserved VIP parking.
The Panorama Restaurant offers a variety of packages. Prices quoted are per person and they vary somewhat depending on the magnitude of the race, with the Melbourne Cup obviously carrying the top price.
The Panorama prefers groups of 10 persons, but there are a limited number of bookings for groups of two, four, six or 12.
The price per person for the AAMI Victoria Derby day is $825. That same package for the Melbourne Cup runs $1,075. For a less prestigious race, such as the Kennedy Oaks, the complete package is $625 and for Emirates Stakes Day, the price drops to $450.
A different experience, although still a memorable one, can be had at the Terrace Restaurant. Good views of the track go well with one of the cocktail packages, which typically cost between $150 and $200 per person. A dining package at the Terrace typically offers a seven-course degustation menu served throughout the day. The cocktail packages provide a daylong grazing menu, perfect for a quick nosh between races. We point out that the package prices do not include beverages.
Other venues at Flemington that deserve a look include the Parade Lounge, the Stayers Lounge and the Perch in the Birdcage. Prices for the Perch can run as high as $2,200 per person for the Melbourne Cup. The Parade Lounge starts around $400 and the Stayers Lounge around $450.
There are many other options, of course, so deciding on a budget experience or a true splurge is a main consideration at Flemington. Those wanting to get on the punt might find a fine dining visit to Flemington an ideal opportunity to use Bonus Bets to defray some of the costs.
There are many options at Caulfield, some restricted to member of the Melbourne Racing Club, but here are a few for the public.
The Black Caviar Restaurant was launched by celebrity chef Ian Curly of The European in the CBD. The venue offers great views of the course, along with white glove service that must be experienced to be appreciated.
Caulfield is an excellent choice for someone who wants to experience fine racecourse dining, but is put off by the high price tags at Flemington. Packages range from around $165 to just over $200 for the P.B. Lawrence, the Underwood or the Memsie Stakes. Those prices are for the Black Caviar Gold Restaurant. The Black Caviar Silver Restaurant is an even better bargain, with prices ranging from $130 to $155 for the races mentioned above.
The above packages supply a four-course luncheon, racecourse admission, race book for each guest and exclusive tote facilities.
The Manikato Restaurant at Caulfield offers fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere. Menus for the traditional carvery luncheon include a selection of roast meats and vegetables, salads, rolls and dessert. Packages for upcoming races range from $70 per person. A package with included beverage service lifts the price into the $130 range.
New South Wales Tracks
Located along the famous Royal Randwick finishing straight, the Grandview Restaurant is an award-winning luxury dining experience. Fine cuisine from a world-class chef, along with a variety of beverage packages, combine for a unique experience. There is an outdoor balcony and a northern terrace that overlooks the parade ring and a prime view of the skyline of the Sydney CBD.
For non-members of the ATC, packages similar to those described for Flemington and Caulfield start at around $230 per person. Amenities include a three-course alternate menu, racecourse admission, and an ATC beverage package, a TV monitor at each table and private betting and bookmaking services.
As this is being typed, early in August of 2017, we regret to inform you that public packages for The Everest, which had been priced at $520 per person, have been sold out.
Another option is The Chairman’s Club, but that is restricted to members, but for anyone who likes to take in several meetings, ATC memberships for 2017 can be purchased for $384. A membership will grant access to dining packages that start around $300 for a deluxe suite of amenities.
The public can seek accommodations at the Centennial Reserve on level three of the Queen Elizabeth II Grandstand. This may be one of the best bargains to be had at Randwick, without a lot of fuss and bother. The cost is $50 per person and includes free infield parking, general admission access to the track and reserved seat and table. This is an excellent option for groups of six, but fewer can be accommodated so long as they do not mind sharing a table with like-minded racing fans.
The Winning Post Restaurant has a commanding view of the track and is a high society hot spot. Five star service includes an attentive Maître d’ and a staff that will cater to every whim. Like the Chairman’s Club at Randwick, ATC membership is mandatory, but given that it is available on a pro-rata basis, this is actually a good bargain.
Per person, expect to pay anywhere from $120 or more for some of the top grade races, but the amenities are similar to the other packages and the dining experience will be with you for the rest of your life.
We intend no disrespect to any of the other fine racecourses to be found in Victoria and New South Wales. There are so many options, including those for Warwick Farm and Canterbury in the vicinity of Sydney, and Moonee Valley and Sandown in Melbourne, that we could spend days simply scratching the surface of all your choices.
In addition, those on a budget, or new to the experience of dining at a racecourse, might want to explore some of the country tracks, in order to gain familiarity with what to expect on a race day, with a view to taking in a meeting at one of the major metro courses on a future occasion.