A while ago James and I got the chance to enjoy a medieval banquet at Blackfriars and it was a unique and wonderful evening. I’ve just found out that there’s another one planned to mark the Spring Vernal Equinox in March 2016 so I thought I’d share some thoughts and pictures from the last one so you know what to expect if you’re lucky enough to book up!
Blackfriars’ Banquet Hall was built in 1239 and is believed to be the oldest dining hall in Newcastle so you really are stepping back in time when you come here.
As we arrived we were greeted by a town wench who encouraged us to wash our hands before entering, as ‘cleanliness is akin to godliness’. Of course we obliged, we were then escorted to our seats at a long oak table and we sipped on wine from clay pots while soaking up the atmosphere.
The communal tables were decorated with candles and fruit that smelt divine and decorative tapestries were hung on the walls. Some of the other guests were dressed in medieval costume, they looked fantastic and their efforts were rewarded with free drinks!
It felt really special to be dining in the same hall were Henry VIII and Edward VIII once feasted, especially as back in their day, women would not have been welcome at all!
Shortly after we arrived, musicians started to play an array of curious looking instruments which filled the medieval hall with wonderful music and before long everyone’s feet were tapping.
We were then formally welcomed by another jolly follow in traditional attire who shared some etiquette tips. We were told not to scratch, pick our noses, spit, vomit or fart, goodness knows where they thought we’d come from! We were also reassured that the wenches would taste our food before we ate if if were worried about poisoning but I’d been to Blackfrairs before and knew I had nothing to worry about there! (Click here for previous restaurant review)
It was all very light hearted and amusing and as the actor danced amongst the diners, sharing his insights to the era, we could feel the atmosphere becoming very jovial, although, that may have also had something to do with our glasses being generously topped up with wine and ale by the esteemed friars.
For starters we tucked in to a hearty broth with rustic loaves. It was piping hot and very comforting!
Next was a fish course which was presented on sharing platters. James loved the rollmop herrings and I discovered a new foodie favourite in the smoked mackerel.
The main course was a real show stopper, locally bred suckling pig! The prize dish was paraded through the dining hall before being served, certainly not something a vegetarian would enjoy, but I for one couldn’t wait to try it!
There were generous portions of meat and crackling dished out along with plenty of tasty veggies and a rather delicious game pie! No wonder Henry VIII had such a large waistline if this was how he ate!
If that wasn’t enough there was also a sweet baked apple (stuffed with fig if I remember rightly) and a cheese board filled with delicious Northumbrian cheeses and rich fruity chutney. They practically had to roll me out of there!
It really was a sumptuous banquet and a great night out that made a welcome change from the usual Friday night bar crawl. If you fancy securing a place at Blackfriars’ next Medieval Banquet on the 18th of March 2016 I’d be quick if I were you, it might feel like it’s ages away but these events sell out very quickly. It’s £49.99 per head but if you ask me, it’s worth every penny.
Check out Blackfriar’s snazzy new website for more details, where you’ll also discover more fabulous events including seafood and whiskey dinners, artisan bread making and Burns’ Night suppers! www.blackfriarsrestaurant.co.uk