For Leeds Indie Food, Whitelock’s threw a Candlelit Victorian Banquet, serving a feast across seven courses. A candlelit dinner on an already warm and clammy evening made the venue really warm. Like the Victorians, we neither had any air con. Across four hours, seven courses were served, all main course sized meaning it was a lot of food to be consumed. I don’t know how the Victorians did it, especially wearing all the clothes they did and most likely alongside more alcohol than we drank on the night (two glasses of fizz and an ale). Still, this food event is up there as one of my favourites. The table was laid out beautifully and all the courses nicely cooked and presented. If it’s a feast, it’s a feast, you just have to sit through it!
Why a Candlelit Victorian Banquet at Whitelock’s? It’s Leeds’ oldest pub, founded back in 1715 so I guess a tribute and celebration to their historic roots. I’ve been for food here once before and claim that they make the best Sunday Roast in Leeds so I knew their take on Victorian food would deliver.
Whitelock’s Victorian Banquet Tasting Menu
As traditional Victorian banquets go, I believe they start with a soup. But first (for us) Pigs Ear Scratching. Six or so big pieces of pigs ear fried in a very salty and flavoursome batter. Dipped in apple & pear sauce, we were off to a good start. I was starving at this point so of course ate all mine, perhaps I shouldn’t have.
The turtle soup isn’t really a soup, more of a broth like. Again, nice and salty but the pork & herb dumplings made this dish for me. Most likely my favourite throughout the feast.
Moving on to bigger and richer food, we had pigeon breast and salmon wellington. Both as separate dishes of course. I liked the alternation between heavy and light food for each dish being served. On paper, I would say fish is my favourite but out of these two, I prefer the pigeon breast. A very rich and heavy dish but oh so flavoursome. Veal & red wine reduction, sauteed greens, smoked bacon and sage bread sauce all on a bed of mashed potatoes. I’ve never had pigeon breast before and I won’t rush to have it again. Unlike chicken, it’s a red meat but sadly not on the tender side.
The Salmon Wellington came out filling the room with a garlic scent. The accompanying smoked garlic foam really intrigued me and surprisingly also made the dish less dry. Apart from the garlic, not many flavours which is sad as I love fish and especially salmon normally.
All filled up, we moved on to desserts, starting with a massive portion of peach fritters with elderflower ice cream and locally sourced honey drizzled over it. I love this dessert. The ice cream is amazing and worked really well with the fried and tangy tasting peaches. Here’s where I started to really struggle, I had to leave some food behind.
Chocolate usually help when feeling this full but the look of the figgy pudding and I could only just about take a bite of one truffle. I’m not a massive fan of chocolate soaked in alcohol and this brandy truffle didn’t change my mind. Another dish I couldn’t finish.
You’d think at this point the feast was over but no! Massive cheeseboards to share between 3-4 people came out and it would be rude not to at least try a little bite of each. I’ve never tried any of these particular cheeses before: Smoked Ribberledale (a naturally smoked goats’ cheese from the Ribble Valley), Harrogate Blue (soft, luxurious creamy and blue-veined, delivering a mellow blue flavour with a hint of pepper to finish), Charcoal Briquette (a creamy mature cheddar with added charcoal) and Kidderton Ash (a soft goats cheese sprinkled with ash prior to maturing).
They all taste really nice with the homemade ale, date & apple chutney but only three of them came home in a doggy bag. I’m not a fan of blue cheese unless melted on a burger and even though this is very soft and mellower than others it’s my least favourite of the night’s selection. I absolutely fell in love with the charcoal cheese! It doesn’t only look cool but tastes delicious too. After the Find the Forest dining experience and now this cheese, I’d say charcoal is my favourite flavour this Leeds Indie Food time around.
Have you ever been to a Candlelit Victorian Banquet before? After reading this and seeing the photos would you be able to stomach (pun intended) it? Which dish do you think you’d enjoy the most?