To the origins of dishes that have evolved often beyond recognition, or that have simply fallen from fashion in their day. We are inspired by the general use of ingredients at a particular point in time (frumenty c1390) or (rib eye and mustard ketchup c1830). We take ideas from the fascination of an ingredient like nettles in the 1700’s or the Asian influences of the Georgian period in Europe. We explore recipes as far back as the 1400’s (rice and Flesh c1390) and as recent as the 1900 (Lamington Cake c1900). However it is not just the technical details alone that inspire their creation but why the dish existed that is the hook.
Looking back into history - the magic lies in the story.
To research the dishes and the eating habits of the Tudors or the Victorians for example, the fascination is in the time, the era the dish was born. Our iconic Meat Fruit was created in the Middle Ages, for the Royal Courts of King Henry VIII. It was a time of indulgence (SIX wives!!) it was a time of feasting and spectacle: Henry was a Renaissance man, his courts were full of music and art, and he was a poet, a musician, a sportsman and a scholar. It was during the curiosity and exploration of this time “the new age” that illusion, disguise and entertainment were part of the lavish Royal feasts. Huge pies were created, the pastry of the 1400’s was just a container and not eaten, it was the contents that were enjoyed. The Tudors loved hunting and often the pies were full of bird stews. So as the lids were lifted the guests could feast, however on one such feast live birds were placed in a pie and as the lid was lifted at the table the birds flew out squawking for the guests’ amusement, “…knocking over goblets and what-not.” This story of course immortalised in history and told in the childrens rhyme Four and Twenty Black Birds Baked in a Pie. Our menu inspirations from that time can be tasted in our Meat fruit and also our Sambocade dessert. It was that very story that also inspired Australian artist David Bromley to create a bronze sculptor which is placed at the entrance to the restaurant, setting the scene for the dinning to follow, depicting the child like energy and fun of those times. Everything about Dinner is modern, our technology, our cooking processes, our menu, and our contemporary design. The magic however is the energy that lives in the inspiration of our menu. A few food and time examples below to ponder:
Nettle Porridge 1661 – Civilisation and cereal crops- the prevalence of pottage in the Middle Ages and its decline – nettles in English cookery
Salmagundi 1723 – Creativity and variety in the medieval herb garden- colour-aroma and the Tudor compound salad- John Nott and the age of the “grand salad”
Eggs in Verjuice 1726 – Patrick Lamb and the rise of court cookery – the inspiration of Francois Massialot – court cookery’s eclipse
Tipsy Cake 1858– Portraits, power politics and pineapple – an eighteenth centaury mania for cultivation – glass tax, hot houses and the Victorian middle class.
Sauce Robert 1861 – The French Revolution and the growth of the restaurant – Napoleon, Talleyrand and the first celebrity chef – Carême comes to Britain