More and more pubs are shifting their focus toward better quality food and pushing the boundaries of what a pub food offer can be.
Whilst still in its infancy as a trend, some operators are now offering full on, medieval-style (minus the jesters and arbitrary executions) banqueting for private dining groups.
As well as being a great way to showcase a venue’s produce, putting on a banquet requires less intensive manpower than would be needed to time and plate individual dishes for each member of a large group – with some operators even able to offer banquets for up to 60 customers at a time.
Just make sure to warn guests they will most likely be leaving with considerably looser belts.
Taming the feast
At West Berkshire gastropub the Newbury, a selection of banquet choices for up to 60 people is available, with parties able to choose from either front half of roast pig with seasonal veg, roasted seasonal birds with veg or a whole roasted fish feast.
“I love the feel of sharing food at the table,” says Clarke Oldfield, head chef and co-owner of the site. “Putting on a banquet allows you to cut out the waiting and make it more of a family affair.
“We started doing roast chickens and it just grew from there – we now do whole pigs.”
Banquets take place in the site’s private upstairs dining room, which it has had since a refurbishment at the end of last year.
Oldfield adds: “The benefits for the kitchen are immense – it’s easy to pull off as all the prep is done in the morning. And on top of that it’s massively cost effective.
“The most important thing is the visuals - we tailor our banquet menus to the customers with their input. For instance, we did a whole roast pig Thai-style a while ago, which was laid out with kilner jars of Thai vegetables and lotus fruits, it was beautiful.”
ETM Group site the Jugged Hare, Moorgate, offers a three-course feasting menu for private dining parties costing £55 per person.
Starters on the menu include steamed English asparagus from Wye Valley served with poached eggs and hollandaise, selection of cured and potted meats with baby gherkins, chutney and toast and foie gras with chicken liver parfait.
Banquet-style mains include roast whole suckling pig with apple, boulangére potatoes and sage gravy, slow roast shoulder of wild boar with soft polenta and a variety of game birds; pheasant, partridge, mallard, pigeon, grouse, woodcock, teal and snipe.