I was lucky enough to snag a ticket to the last Harry Potter Feast for the newest film. I’d never been to one before and I generally love the food that is offered by the Drafthouse staff of chefs. Nothing on the standard menu is extremely challenging culinary-wise, so I was really excited when I read the menu that was offered for the Feast. It’s listed below so I won’t go into deep detail on every dish. But I was intrigued by the uses of fresh berries, deep fried salmon, and twists on traditional English food. While some dishes were astounding, others left me sadly disappointed.
The first course of asparagus wrapped in salmon and deep fried is still my favorite dish of the evening. This “Elder Wand” was playful (people in the audience were giggling while eating, which is always a good sign to me)and delicious. I was unsure of frying salmon but Executive Chef John Bullington handled it perfectly. The second course of hen stuffed pasty was also a high note. I’ve eaten a few pasties in my time (but I can’t say I’m an expert, I’m still waiting on that plane ticket to the UK) and the crust was the best balance of flaky and structurally sound that I’ve ever had. I know structurally sound is an odd way to describe a stuffed meat pocket, but it’s really important that a finger food doesn’t fall apart on its way to my mouth.
The third course is where Mr. Bullington started to lose me. The cucumber soup was too watery for my tastes. The seasoning was well done but it needed more fat in the soup and instead just came out watery even for a cucumber soup. Mr. Bullington did add slices of bacon as a garnish but the crispy bacon just didn’t add enough fat to turn this soup into an accomplishment. On a side note, which I will address in a bit in more detail, the J.K. Scrumpy Farmhouse Cider served with the soup was the most delicious thing I have ever put in my mouth.
The main course was a filet wrapped in pastry dough, topped with a mushroom sauce and a side of roasted cauliflower. The steak was over cooked, simply put. It was by no means inedible, I’ve never disliked something so much while dining at the Drafthouse that I couldn’t finish or some enjoyment in it. However, most Americans now prefer their steak to be at the most medium if not medium rare, and this was fully well done. I did feel that over all the beef was well seasoned and the mushroom sauce complimented the dish. I understand that twice cooking a steak is tricky business, and one would prefer to err on the side of overcooked than raw, but a main course should be the top hat of a meal and executed with perfection.
The desert course brought me back to a high point to end the meal. The Brambleberry scone was fresh out of the oven and paired with house made clotted cream. I think I could’ve eaten two dozen of those scones. The biggest success of the evening was the wine pairings by the Drafthouse sommelier, including the Scrumpy. After hearing the introductions of the food and of the wine and then tasting the pairings I really felt like she knew what she was doing. I would love to see the regular menus have suggested wine pairings with the standard fair, which might be a little too snooty for the culture I love of the Drafthouse.
From the potential I tasted in this menu I’d highly suggest giving the next Feast that comes around a shot and I have a new appreciation for Mr. Bullington, not just another short order dinner/snack chef.