Rhubarb Henley gives a personal touch to corporate catering
Earlier this month, some of The Sloaney team attended the Henley Royal Regatta. While Katie Ann Lamb hopped between the Mahiki VIP Lounge and the Henley Champagne and Cocktail Club for Sloaney TV, one of our writers was watching the action from The River Lounge with Rhubarb Henley.
A keen rower, the regatta was an ideal place for Andrew Curry to sample the delights of Rhubarb Henley. The parent company Rhubarb have earned an international reputation catering at the most glamorous private, corporate, sports and charity events from film premieres to royal weddings. Rhubarb Henley pride themselves on being a sophisticated, innovative and dynamic member of the “rhubarb” family.
Andrew shares his experience of the hospitality and his day at the Regatta with readers of The Sloaney…
A Day at Henley with Rhubarb
By ANDREW CURRY
Strolling along the banks of the Thames is a pleasant experience regardless of scene or setting. The famous river winds its way through some of the most picturesque areas of England, from Hampton Court to the Houses of Parliament.
Perhaps the most hallowed and sacred of all these areas is that of Henley on Thames, a small town halfway from London to Oxford which, for one week every year, turns into one of the most prestigious and most extravagant sporting occasions in the British calendar. Whilst other summer sporting festivals, notably Ascot and Aintree, have lost their upper class edge, Henley Royal Regatta remains the preserve of only a chosen few.
It is important, as with many of these events, to look upon them as two separate entities. The first is the sport on the water – a sporting clash of the highest pedigree between the best rowers in the world. Every name in rowing is there, from Olympians to schoolboys and it is the regatta that is prized above all as the jewel in an athlete’s crown. Win Henley and you can rest on your laurels for life.
The second event is the one on the bank, and it is one that is taken no less seriously. The glitz and glamour of the crowd Henley attracts is unlike anything else, with a strict dress code required to gain entry to the majority of the enclosures. Stripey, colourful blazers are everywhere and posh frocks are aplenty (and none above the knee or any with unnecessary cleavage). Henley is old school and there’s no school like the old school.
Set up the course, opposite the famed Temple Island, was ‘The River Lounge’ the hospitality tent run by Rhubarb Events. The large, sprawling marquee was enclosed behind a picket fence in one of the quieter areas of the course, away from the pandemonium reserved for the Barn Bar and the Regatta enclosure. It was decked out with tasteful green furniture and spotless white linen which helped to reduce the effect that the heat was having on a lot of the well dressed guests.
A lot of Henley’s corporate hospitality can come across as either extremely conservative and traditional (it usually takes an elderly gentleman to collapse from heat exhaustion before men are permitted to remove their jackets) or a bit too showy and superior. Yet The River Lounge struck a rather nice balance, with a relaxed atmosphere apparent from the moment you walk in.
The drinks were cold and refreshing, including a delightful mix of Pimms and Ginger Beer which made for a pleasant change from the sometime sickly lemonade. The food was a mixture of sandwiches and cakes, each one cut small to make them portable and easy to digest. It may be that The River Lounge struck gold due to the weather, but everything seemed in synch with the oppressing heat. There was a large garden area with shady parasols for those who wanted to watch the racing, as well as cooler areas under the marquee which provided a break from the sun. The drinks were readily available and icy cold and all the food was simple and easy to digest. It may be the case that, had it been raining, the place would have been affected with a different vibe but, as it was, it struck a pleasing chord with the majority of the guests I interacted with.
Georgia, the hostess on the door on the Friday seemed relaxed and in control, she knew exactly how many guests were being catered for as well as the needs of all of those under her charge. Rhubard run a variety of catered events across the calendar in both London and other venues and run several functions at Henley outside of the Royal Regatta.
This long standing experience has stood them in good stead and they had every base covered for an enjoyable and relaxed atmosphere. Perhaps criticism could be drawn from the fact that they were a little too detached from the actual racing (for my liking anyway) but, in terms of location and provisions they struck the perfect balance between luxurious and relaxed. Rhubarb Henley proved themselves to be a sound option for the corporate event or family treat.