A bistro, craft beer and dumplings: Merivale confirms its menu plans for the SCG

Merivale moves into the Members': from left, Vinnie's Pizza chef Vincenzo Biondini, Ben Greeno, Jordan Toft, Justin ...
Merivale moves into the Members': from left, Vinnie's Pizza chef Vincenzo Biondini, Ben Greeno, Jordan Toft, Justin Hemmes, Danielle Alvarez and Dan Hong. Photo: Phil Hillyard for the SCG

Sydney Cricket Ground punters are set to scoff steak frites and falafel this summer with confirmation Merivale is the hallowed venue's hospitality partner for the next six years.

The Justin Hemmes-led hospitality group – which boasts an expanding portfolio of 80 brands, bars and restaurants – will begin providing food and drinks at the SCG from December 5 when the men's Big Bash League kicks off.

Merivale will also manage food and beverage operations at Moore Park's new Sydney Football Stadium, scheduled to open in the second half of 2022. The group is set to employ more than 1000 staff across both venues.

Merivale boss Justin Hemmes says it's an honour to partner with the Sydney Cricket Ground and Sydney Football Stadium to ...
Merivale boss Justin Hemmes says it's an honour to partner with the Sydney Cricket Ground and Sydney Football Stadium to provide food and drinks. Photo: Phil Hillyard for the SCG

"This is a major milestone in our company's history and builds on our commitment to the city of Sydney, its culture, economy and job creation," said Mr Hemmes. "It's also an honour to be part of history in the making for sporting arenas in Australia."

The hospitality giant's team of executive chefs including Dan Hong (Mr Wong, Queen Chow), Danielle Alvarez (Fred's), Jordan Toft (Mimi's), Ben Greeno (The Paddington) and Mike Eggert (Totti's) have been developing the the SCG's new premium food offerings with Merivale group operations manager Debbie Higgins.

"All the chefs have been collaborating on ways to deliver the best food and beverage experiences possible within the constraints of the cricket ground," said Mr Hemmes. "The aim has been to provide restaurant quality food in a stadium environment while making sure it's affordable and accessible."

Merivale's first Sydney Cricket Ground service will be at the Big Bash League on December 5.
Merivale's first Sydney Cricket Ground service will be at the Big Bash League on December 5.  Photo: A-Shot-of-Bliss

Merivale brands to feature on menus across the cricket ground's food outlets include Vinnie's Pizza, Jimmy's Falafel, and Queen Chow Dumplings and Noodles. The Chicken Shop (The Paddington's rotisserie chook takeaway store) will have a presence, while Dan Hong's El Loco Mexican brand is behind the hot dogs.

"This is a transformational moment for our precinct," said SCG and Venues NSW chief executive Kerrie Mather. "I know [Merivale] will offer our customers, members, sporting and entertainment partners the highest quality food and drink this city has to offer."

A bistro inspired by CBD French restaurant Felix is set to provide red wine and steak frites in the Members' Pavilion, while more casually-dressed ticket-holders can visit Smokehouse – a sports bar serving craft beer and smoked dishes in the style of Manly eatery Papi Chulo.

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SCG fan-favourites are sticking around too. Meat pies are on the menu for $5.50 at concession stands, and hot chips will trade for $5 a serve. Hot dogs will cost $5 each and a bottle of Coke or water will be $4.50.

Standard issue beers such as VB, Carlton Draught and Furphy will be behind the bars for $9 a can, and punters can expect to part with $10.20 for a schooner of Tooheys New or Reschs. Prices are still being finalised for other menu items, cocktails and premium wines.

Merivale's move into the SCG follows a trend in North America where premium foodservice at stadiums has been increasing for the past 10 years, in line with the rise of "foodie" culture. Nigiri on the same menu as nachos, say, or a local artisan sausage option for hot dogs.

Venues NSW chief executive Kerrie Mather with Justin Hemmes at the SCG.
Venues NSW chief executive Kerrie Mather with Justin Hemmes at the SCG.  Photo: Phil Hillyard for the SCG

"Our sole focus will be on elevating the overall experience at iconic sporting moments and concerts, as well as transforming the full-service stadium event offering on non-match days throughout the year," said Debbie Higgins.

In August, Good Food was the first news outlet to report that Hemmes had fought off other bidders to reach the final contract stage for the lucrative SCG and SFS tender, but Merivale declined to comment on the deal at the time.

Other hospitality players attached to bids for the Venues NSW contract, it was reported, included Aria chef Matt Moran, Flying Fish spin-off Flying Fish & Chips and Bourke Street Bakery.

Stadium Australia events and catering provider VenuesLive was also in the running, along with incumbent Delaware North, which has operated concessions and premium dining at the SCG since 2010.

Merivale's menu highlights for the SCG

Bistro 1886 – a restaurant inspired by CBD bistro Felix in the Members' Pavilion.

Smokehouse – a casual sports bar serving craft beer and smoked dishes.

Vinnie's Pizza – expect a more deep dish-style slice suitable for stadiums than a traditional Italian margherita, says Hemmes.

Dan Hong's dumplings and cheeseburger spring rolls.

Jordan Toft's Coogee Pavilion-style salads and healthy options.

Danielle Alvarez's hot Spanish bocadillo sandwiches.

Ben Greeno's fried and rotisserie chicken.

Mike Eggert's meat pies and burgers.