PEOPLE present for one of Bendigo's most epic meals have shared their recollections on its 40th anniversary.
The place was the Shamrock Hotel. The occasion was the hotel's historic reopening after years of hotel closures.
The reopening of the beautiful heritage hotel in the heart of the city centre became a huge cultural event and drew crowds that streamed through the building on tours as well as a huge lunch and glitzy VIP dinner.
Marion Maggs was going through family photos and correspondence when she happened upon two souvenir menus for a gala dinner marking the Shamrock Hotel's grand re-opening.
The menus were dated April 14, 1981 - exactly 40 years before Mrs Maggs unearthed them.
"It just brought back memories," Mrs Maggs said.
This time 40 years ago, she was working for the Esanda office of the ANZ Bank.
Mrs Maggs said the bank was involved in financing aspects of the works on the Shamrock Hotel.
She and her husband were invited to the gala dinner.
Parts of the night had stuck with Mrs Maggs throughout the years, like ascending the beautiful staircase and entering the banquet hall.
"It was all very grand," she said.
She said it was a special occasion for the city as well as for the invitees.
The souvenir menu provides an insight into the hotel's history.
"1854 - the year in which licensed houses first came into being on the goldfields, saw the first Shamrock erected on the property on which the Stock Exchange business was then conducted," the booklet states.
"The first Shamrock was built by John Crowley in conjunction with Mr William Hefferman. John Crowley came from County Cork in Ireland - hence the name "Shamrock."
A new Shamrock Hotel opened in 1860, under the name 'Theatre Royal'.
Visitors included Dame Nellie Melba, Lola Montez, Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Robert Menzies, Prince Albert Victor and Prince George of Wales.
"In 1897, the hotel was demolished and the present building erected and was acclaimed as the last work in 'Victorian Opulence'," the menu states.
"During the ensuing years several different licensees conducted the business and perhaps one of the best known was Mrs Joyce Smith, affectionately known by one and all as 'Diamond Lil'."
The hotel closed after the licence was surrendered in 1974, according to the document.
"The Victorian Government wisely decided to purchase the freehold and licence. Several suggestions were forthcoming from various local citizens as to how the building could be used," it states.
"Widely experienced hotelier" John Stoddart was granted the lease and set about renovating the hotel.
"Plans and specifications were evolved and tenders were called in late 1979," the menu states.
Works started in February 1980 and finished in April the following year.
"A grand parade and celebration took place in the city, culminating in an official ceremony by the Honourable R. J. Hamer E.D., M.P. Premier of Victoria," the menu states.
The Shamrock's then-executive chef Carlo Barri remembers the weight of expectations he had taken on.
He was 21-years-old and while he had run a small restaurant for a short time he had never catered for anything so large and high-profile.
"It was everyone's dream, of course, to run a larger establishment and it was such a great achievement for me to do that," Mr Barri said.
"I took the position two months prior to opening and set up the kitchen. It was just a shell when I arrived."
Smoked salmon and Russian eggs were served as appetisers, followed by entrees of whiting mornay and chicken ragout.
The mains were beef medallions, and roast turkey and cranberry sauce.
A bombe alaska was served for dessert, and there were "cheese and greens".
"It was a bit nerve-wracking but I was relieved when it was all over," Mr Barri said.
"It went really well and we didn't have any issues at all."
Mr Barri has gone on to run his own restaurants and is still a leading figure in the Bendigo food scene.
Hotel Shamrock director Ray Sharawara said he and Mark Marantelli bought into the business in part because of its history, and also because they thought they could bring something to it.
"We're proud of being able to showcase the place," Mr Sharawara said.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: