Thursday, 25 March 2010


“I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.” - Groucho Marx

The Athenaeum Club in Melbourne, situated in the Paris-end of Collins Street, has been a City institution since 1868. It is an exclusive “Gentlemen’s Club” (yes, women are excluded from membership), which was founded to provide a venue for Melbourne’s civic, business, academic and political leaders. It is considered to be one of Australia’s oldest and finest clubs, although for several years there have been numerous debates and controversy as the Club continued to firmly exclude women from its membership. Despite a spirited fight, the ban on women members remains even to this day!

(Male) members and guests (who can be female) “can relax in the reading rooms, play billiards or snooker, enjoy a work out, stay overnight or dine in one of several distinctive venues, and always be assured of good company. The Club is complex with an ever-growing program of social, sporting and cultural functions for the entertainment and edification of Members. The Athenaeum Club’s location, service, facilities and first-class dining support its well-deserved international reputation.” says the club blurb.

Whether I agree with its rules or not, I enjoy being a guest of members of the club and last Wednesday evening I was invited to a dinner party in one of the private dining rooms in the club. This was a function catering for 24 guests and the evening was one of civilised and refined dining, pleasant conversation and unashamed luxury. It is very pleasant once in a while to splurge on such decadent pleasures, especially if the company is delightful and the repartee witty.

We were met by our host in the anteroom of the dining room where we enjoyed our pre-dinner champagne and got introduced to our fellow guests. We were then ushered into the dining room where we sat down and immediately were attended by waiters who made sure we were comfortable and help us settle. The dinner then started and was punctuated by some brief speeches and much pleasant conversation. The menu is listed below:

BBQ Jumbo Tiger Prawn Tails with mango, broad bean, cherry tomato and avocado salad rouille.

Main Course
Roast Rack of Lamb with tomato, pumpkin, potato and basil tart with asparagus and rosemary sauce, mint jelly on the side.

Caramelised Lemon and Blueberry Tart with double cream, raspberry and Cointreau coulis.

Cheese platter with biscuits

Coffee or tea with Chocolates

2009 Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough NZ
2008 O’Leary Walker Cabernet Sauvignon, Clare Valley SA
2007 Brown Brothers, Muscat Dessert Wine, Rutherglen Vic

The dinner was quite delightful and the opportunity to celebrate with my host and his other friends was a privilege and an honour.


  1. My first wives ever attend as guests? Can't help but think...if's so obvious the reason why! If not the reason now, most likely the original reason.

  2. This sounds like a delightful dinner party and the place is also very nice. However I am surprised that in this day and age there still exist bastions of sexism like that.
    Like Wanda above I wonder if this is the place where the men bring their mistresses. However, I don't get the impression that it is a seamy place.

  3. What a feast!!!! We have some exclusive clubs like this too, but the wives defininately go to them with their husbands who are members.