Bristol Old Vic 250th Anniversary Dinner

Bristol Old Vic Dinner TablesAs part of their 250th birthday celebrations on Sunday 29th May, Bristol Old Vic held a gala dinner in the theatre, with four historical courses celebrating the theatre’s past, present and future.

Our chefs cooked the meal backstage in the Scene Dock during the star-studded gala performance and, when the curtain went down, we served drinks and canapes to nearly 200 VIP guests in the Paint Shop.Drinks service

 

Simultaneously, the rest of the front of house team transformed the stage into a dining room where the guests were seated for their four course historical banquet.20160529 - Bristol Old Vic 250th Birthday JonCraig.co.uk

Each course was inspired by the four centuries that the theatre’s history spans, with a starter of Earl Grey tea smoked salmon (18th Century), a roast rack of Mendip spring lamb and braised shoulder of Duchy Farm mutton (19th Century), ‘Elizabeth David’s’ famous flourless chocolate & almond cake (20th Century) and finally Heston inspired petit fours of salted caramel fudge & raspberry tartlets with popping candy (21st Century).

Early Grey tea smoked salmon Wye Valley Asparagus & beetroot

Just before midnight, the guests were invited into King Street to see an artist’s impression of how the Old Vic will look, post works, projected onto the outside of the building.

Exterior

Starter – 18th Century
Earl Grey tea smoked salmon, Wye Valley asparagus & beetroot

‘To Tea or not to Tea’
Since the 18th century Britain has been one of the world’s greatest tea consumers per capita. Between 1720 and 1750 the imports of tea to Britain through the British East India Company more than quadrupled. Fernand Braudel queried, ‘Is it true to say the new drink replaced gin in England?’ In the late 1700s, a reduction on the taxes levied on tea lead to tea being more affordable and soon became the infusion of every class in Great Britain. Our starter today champions not only the perennial British favourite Early Grey but some great local products including Wye Valley asparagus produced by the Chinn Family in South Herefordshire.

Main – 19th Century
Roast rack of Mendip spring lamb, braised shoulder of Duchy Farm mutton, minted pea,
rosemary sliced potato & lamb jus

Much Ado about Mutton
The popularity of mutton has waxed and waned over the centuries and social classes in Britain. Mutton was at it’s heyday in the 19th century and the Victorians appreciated that mutton is richer and meatier than lamb, just as beef is richer and meatier than veal. Today you will be enjoying Duchy Home Farm mutton whose popularity has gained momentum since The Prince of Wales created The Mutton Renaissance initiative. The Prince felt that by reviving the popularity of the meat from these sheep, known as mutton, it would help struggling family farms survive. Our lamb racks today are sourced from less than 20 miles away in the Mendip Hills.

Dessert – 20th Century
‘Elizabeth David’s’ famous flourless chocolate & almond cake, Cornish clotted cream

‘Can one desire too much of a good thing?’
There is at present a resurgence of retro recipes and modern day cooking is showcasing some of the Best of British from the 20th Century. Elizabeth David is known as Britain’s’ first lady of food and is, perhaps, the UK’s greatest cookery writer. Mrs. David brought about a revolution in British cooking in the late 50’s, introducing post-war Brits to the food of Greece, Italy and Provence and reminding them of their own culinary traditions. As Jane Grigson, another British food writer and one of her devotees wrote, ‘Basil was no more than the name of bachelor uncles, courgette was printed in italics as an alien word, and few of us knew how to eat spaghetti…Then came Elizabeth David, like sunshine.’ This simple chocolate cake, made without flour, is one of her more famous and well-loved recipes.

Petit Fours – 21st Century
Salted caramel fudge & raspberry tartlets with popping candy

All’s Well That Ends Well
In recent years the Heston effect has hit the mainstream with dishes featuring more unusual additions to give customers a taste and sensory experience. The use of popping candy in restaurants has risen 170% year-on-year since 2010. Whilst mixing savoury and sweet is by no means a new concept our obsession with salted caramel seems to be an unbaiting craze. Salted caramel occupies a quite unique point on the flavour axis and we hope you enjoy your final course of this special evening.

‘Good night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.’

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