We Reviewed UNSW's staff-only Restaurant: The Lounge

By Anonymous

Have you ever wondered where your tutors and lecturers go to lunch? We never see them in our regular student food courts, so they must be eating somewhere on campus right? Well, the answer is the all-exclusive Staff Lounge at UNSW

A few of us at Blitz decided to sneak into, and check out this exclusive lounge to determine whether UNSW knew how to make a vibey restaurant, if the service was sweet, and whether the food was even good. In this review, I have decided to split my judgments into three categories: ambience, food quality and service, with a final summary of the overall experience. 

NOTE: Any harshness is purely for the review. I swear I’m not normally this judgemental. :)

Finding the actual restaurant was a bit of a challenge and maybe that’s because they don’t want students to accidentally wander into The Lounge (didn’t stop us though). For anyone wondering where this ‘secret’ restaurant is, it’s located near the back of the library which contributes to the serenity. “Whoops” if I accidentally revealed a ‘secret’.

In all, being located at the top of the library, the atmosphere was soothing and earthy. The balcony had plants along the perimeters, and the interior was very beige and wooden. As well, the dim lighting really added to the overall mood of the place.

It was a space which felt far from uni, despite being on campus. In general, the seating arrangements were well set to create a spacious and elegant feel.

And if you needed an area a little more exclusive than just being staff-only… they also offer semi-private spaces which are separated from the normal dining areas with sliding doors and curtains, as well as a private dining room and a terrace seating area which was not open when we were there.

Ambience Rating: ★★★★☆

Here is where the real review starts, because as nice as the ambience and service are, the food is what really matters (speaking as a foodie of course).

We ordered

  • Bibimbap with sautéed mushrooms, kimchi, radish, snake beans, seaweed, sesame ($18.00),

  • Venetian duck risotto ($29.00),

  • Butler steak with roast shallot, Brussels sprouts, parsnip & sauce bordelaise ($29.00),

  • Spiced monkfish loin with cannellini beans, tomato, saffron & chilli butter ($29.00).

  • Lemon tart with strawberries and meringue ($12.00).

If you want to sneak in yourself, the current menu can be found on their website.

Butler Steak 

The steak was medium-rare, however we weren’t asked for our preferences on the cooking of the meat which is problematic. Even if we did want medium-rare, the dish was room-temperature when delivered, which ruined what could have been a nice meal. The basic flavours of salt and pepper were present (if not boring), and the meat was tender, but it lacked any other value. For the price of $29.00, it was completely unworthy. 

If I was going to deliver a meal which couldn’t distinguish itself from home cooking, I would have at least presented it nicely. It’s a shame The Lounge doesn’t think the same. The steak pieces were stacked with as much thought as a toddler playing Jenga, and the vegetables were dumped to the side as if it didn’t save the dish from being an utter failure. The vegetables were crisp-tender and the Brussels sprouts and shallots were without unwanted bitterness. The veggies were by far my favourite part of the meal.

Venetian Duck Risotto

To call this dish a risotto would be too much of a privilege. Instead, I would have called this dish “cold mush in soup”.The chefs drowned the risotto in broth. I could hear the risotto screaming for help under all the liquid. 

Lemon Tart 

The only dishes that were worth the money were the desserts. The lemon tart was buttery, and immediately melted in your mouth. After the clusterfuck that was the main course, we were in disbelief and wondered if they bought the tarts elsewhere. But, upon asking the staff, we were told it was made in house. The tart filling had a nice sourness which was sensational on my tongue. It was well balanced by the sweet flavours of the meringue. Kudos to the pastry chefs.


The overall menu had originality, but the execution of the fancy dishes wasn’t there, especially for such a high price. I recognise the price could be due to the location, staff costs, and all other expenses that are associated with owning a restaurant as grandiose as this one but, the lack of any flavour or seasoning in all of the dishes makes the ambience and service, no matter how good, seem like a waste of money.

Food Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (the dessert saved this rating)

On a more positive note, the service in terms of ordering and getting the order correct was decent. The staff was nice and attentive to all the customers and tables, which can be quite hard in a large restaurant like this. The only negative about the service would be the time it took for the food to arrive. If I were to guesstimate the time it took, I would say it took about 50 minutes or so for the first dish to arrive. After the first dish, the other came relatively fast after.

Service Rating: ★★★★☆

So to conclude the experience (excluding the food) was nice. The fanciness and ambience of the restaurant elevated the experience but the actual food was tasteless and incredibly high priced for the quality given. For those wanting to soak in the atmosphere or take cute Instagram photos, this might be the place for you. For the rest of us who actually care about the food we eat and whether it has taste or not, I’d recommend the McDonalds down the street instead.

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Blitz Editor

Anandi Ganguly