Though not a die-hard Arsenal fan, I happen to live with one, so when the opportunity arose back in February 2020 to visit Emirates Stadium for a day of hospitality, I daren’t pass it up.
With the offer of a five course meal, complimentary drinks, a warm welcome and great seats for the game, I was interested in this version of a game day compared to previous visits, which usually involved a lot of pre-match pub drinking and chanting and match time shouting. Though not a terrible experience, I was certainly looking forward to a different matchday experience this time around, however, especially when there’s a fine dining restaurant involved.
The WM is a members-only lounge and restaurant on Club Level offering a sophisticated environment in which to gear up for the big game, but don’t think for a minute that it is stuffy or not for true fans. This matchday experience was one of the most fun days I, and my football fan partner for the day, have experienced, with or without the involvement of football! Aided mostly by the fantastic food served up, faultless service from the friendliest and most accommodating staff members, quality seats from which to watch the game, all topped off with an exciting game of football and a win for the Arsenal!
We visited as Matchday Experience guests with The Heritage package, giving us the full matchday experience of a seasonal Platinum Member. Premium season ticket holders have their own seats on Club Level for every competitive first-team home game, as well as access to a great selection of bars and restaurants, and they can also enhance their membership to include dining in one of the member-only restaurants, like The WM, for the whole season.
After heading to the Club Level entrance to pick up our tickets (with a sighting of former player Nigel Winterburn – great start!) we headed to The WM restaurant where we were greeted and seated at our table for the day before being handed our personalised matchday programmes. Our lovely waitress informed us that there was a sushi bar in the restaurant for the day, so we gratefully accepted a little selection of goodies as an appetiser along with a glass of Champagne, while we perused the menu.
There is a great selection of dishes to choose from in The WM with ever changing seasonal options including fish, meat and vegetarian choices with matched wines if you wish to pair with your food. I opted for the scallop dish to start, which consisted of three plump scallops on a bed of watercress puree and black pudding. The puree added a pop of colour and gentle flavour, while the rich and plentiful helping of black pudding complemented the delightful scallops perfectly. I decided on the suggested pairing of Domaine Colette Gros Chablis with this as well as my main and I thought it was a well-matched, easy drinking choice with my glass being topped up regularly.
The main course of turbot fish and chips was the finest version of this classic British dish I have devoured. Turbot is probably my favourite fish anyway and the meaty texture with the light batter suited each other perfectly. The chunky, crispy chips were a winner, ever-so creamy tartare sauce a delight and the smoothest most flavoursome mushy peas I have tasted made for a mouth-watering plate of food.
During a break in dining, the room was treated to a Q and A with Arsenal legend Tony Adams, with questions asked by long-time fan of the club, Tom Watt (AKA Lofty from EastEnders!). All guests had been invited to write a question on a card with some selected at random, while Tony gave his thoughts. We were informed that former Arsenal players often make an appearance on matchdays, with Gilberto recently disguised as a waiter – certainly a great surprise for any Arsenal fan!
Though desserts looked lovely, I was so full from the food (wine, Champagne…) so during my break in dining I had a look around the room and spotted all types of diners, some there for special occasions, others who looked like regulars and a mix of fans of the club. There are booths which groups can occupy, with a TV screen to watch some pre-match sport and the build up to the game, otherwise you are on private tables with large TVs dotted around the room.
Everyone is so friendly and accommodating, it really makes the experience what it is, different staff members stop by to ensure that we’re having an enjoyable time, Champagne and wine is topped up without you even asking, half-time drinks are ordered and, before we know it, we are out in our Club Level seats (about 20 steps from our table in The WM) cheering on Arsenal and fully enjoying the game.
At half time we rushed back into The WM to sip our drinks and devour a freshly served chicken satay snack. One suggestion for an even smoother experience would be to remind guests a few minutes before the second half is due to start so everyone can head back out to their seats in time for kick off. We all have watches but you’re having so much fun in The WM that it’s easy to lose track of time!
With smiles on our faces at full time, after a 3-2 win, we headed back to the restaurant to find a cheese board waiting for us along with some freshly poured drinks. The cheeses were plentiful, the food great, the drinks flowed, you can’t beat the service, and everyone was so keen to ensure all guests were having a great time.
I just loved this experience, it was a day like no other, whether you’re a devoted Gooner, fine dining enthusiast or simply someone who enjoys tagging along to a game now and again, you will have fun. I can honestly say that I cannot wait to go back and repeat this fantastic experience again, and I can think of plenty of people I know who would join me for the day and have just as enjoyable a time, whether the game is won or not!
Factbox: Platinum Membership at Emirates Stadium
A range of Club Level Season Ticket options are available for Season 2021/22, from £2,545 inc. VAT per person.
Phone: 0345 262 0001 (option 2)
Images ©Arsenal Football Club