They call it the magic of the FA Cup final, how small fry (Watford) can come up against big fish (Manchester City) – both teams having got there completely fairly. This magic is what makes the Emirates FA Cup Final one of the most popular sporting events at Wembley Stadium. Consequently, it also makes corporate hospitality on the day one of the most sought-after experiences. SquareMeal got invited to taste the official menu served on Saturday 18 May – is it just as magical?
From the various corporate hospitality packages and options available at the iconic Wembley Stadium, the One Twenty Club is by far the most exclusive (don’t worry, you can get more information on the others further down). Why? Apart from one of the best seats in the house to watch the game, we’re talking incredible service and top-class treatment. Oh, and amazing food.
Because the food truly is fantastic. What’s more, we’re always impressed by chefs and institutions who manage to cater for large numbers to a very high standard – it is a real skill. And when we say large numbers, we’re talking huge. Did you know the One Twenty serves a five-course a la carte menu for all its 450 guests during a game day’s two-and-a-half service? Now, this isn’t a set menu, meaning it’s a five-choice five-course dinner. That totals to 1,350 plates of food a day, served at an average speed of nine plates per minute. This is only made possible from the help of 750 hospitality staff and 200 chefs.
The One Twenty has a lounge area to enjoy a nice cocktail before your meal
READ MORE: A guide to the best hospitality at Royal Ascot
So what can you expect from the five-course menu offered for the 2019 Emirates FA Cup Final on Saturday 18 May? Stadium head chef, Harry Lomas, told us that his team of chefs have been keeping busy coming up with what they consider to be the perfect menu. In fact, it has taken them six months from conception to finalising, and below you can see the result – and our verdict.
To start, guests will be able to choose between scallops with texture of cauliflower, chorizo and sweetcorn foam; beef cheek ravioli; duck and prune terrine; buffalo mozzarella and peas; and Lancashire cheese tortellini.
For mains, it’s between beef wellington; crispy pork belly with caramelised apple; pan-fried turbot; caramelised halibut; and leek, stilton and potato pithivier. This is before deciding between vanilla panna cotta, sticky stout pudding, a fruit plate, chocolate delice or a custard tart for dessert. All dishes are served with a choice of paired and recommended wines.
The caramelised halibut looks mightily inviting
READ MORE: Want to have Tom Kerridge cooking a VIP hospitality dinner for you at the Glorious Goodwood?
We went for a controversial double beef (beef cheek ravioli followed by a beef wellington) and were entirely gratified by our decision #SorryNotSorry. The single large ravioli was stuffed with soft and flavoursome meat of beef cheek and served with a luxuriously rich beef gravy and little chunks of tomato – delicious.
It was nothing compared to the beef wellie though, which came with a perfectly crisp pastry (no soggy bottoms), served lusciously golden and complete with impressive lace work on top. The tenderloin of beef inside was lovely and pink and all the veg (dauphinoise potatoes, green beans, lemon carrots and braised onion) were cooked perfectly. But what brought it all together was the rich, dark and sticky pan jus.
Would you be able to resist the beef wellington?
READ MORE: Start planning corporate hospitality at this year’s Wimbledon
Although tempted by the stout sticky pudding (which head chef Harry Lomas said was a hand-me-down recipe from his nan), we had to opt for something light after all that beef. The panna cotta delivered both on flavour and wobble and was accompanied by seasonal berries, making it a fresh finish to the meal. When we imagine the kitchen delivering this quality food to 450 people, we are left utterly in awe of the Wembley culinary team’s calibre.
But what sets this apart from a normal fine dining experience? The free-flowing vintage Laurent-Perrier champagne and canapés before your meal, bespoke cocktails and the post-match cheese and biscuits do their bit, of course, but the real deal breaker is the service. The position of the lounge (mid-field, above the royal box) is ace as well, with wrap-around windows allowing amazing views of the hallowed turf. It’s definitively our top choice for corporate hospitality for the 2019 Emirates FA Cup Final.
Our seats for when we tasted the menu - these could be your seats too!
READ MORE: The corporate VIP packages at Hampton Court Palace Festival are looking lit
As mentioned above, the One Twenty is the top-tier membership at Club Wembley, and comes with a whopping price tag of £11,340 per seat per season. On the day of the cup final, friends and family of the 120 members (hence the One Twenty name) are welcome, though.
Other Club Wembley memberships include the Bobby Moore, named after the legendary England player who was captain of the England national team that won the 1966 FIFA World Cup. Here, a four-course gourmet meal from the a-la-carte is served alongside free-flowing Laurent Perrier Champagne in a casual restaurant. Live music entertainment is usually included and it’s not unlikely that a football legend or two will pop by for a visit. The price tag is £7,872 per seat per season and includes great mid-field seats on level 1 as well as complimentary trains to and from London Marylebone or Birmingham.
The view from the seats included with One Twenty Membership. Bobby Moore membership seats are situated on Level 1
A more casual option (and more reasonably priced) is the Centre Circle membership for £4,308 per seat per season. Here, complimentary street food-styled grub and drinks will be served before you go out to your seats located bang on the halfway line (albeit on the opposite side of the changing rooms). Trains to and from either London Marylebone or Birmingham are also included.
A private box is another really popular option with prices starting at £37,200 for a season. Seeing that you don’t rent a private box, you own it, you have the freedom to bring whoever you want into the box and entertain guests however you want. Another plus with a box is that you’re free to use this for non-match day events such as meetings, private dining and parties.
Whatever you end up choosing (or what your wallet allows), there is something special about Wembley that you can’t find at other stadiums. The history, the atmosphere and service – it’s simply magic.