This has been and will continue to be quite a year. 2012 means a lot to many British people, what with the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics coming to London. For us, 2012 has a very different meaning. We have seen the arrival of our first niece, my brother-in-law turned 40, I turn 40, my wife turns…. Erm 21 and my Mum turned 70. I may have lied about my wife’s age and you may think why I was so honest about my Mum’s age. Well that’s because this little piece is about her party.
This wasn’t a surprise party by any means and most of it was actually arranged by my mum. The choice of venue, the decorations and the menu was all down to her and her husband. Us children did have a few little surprises up our sleeves though, cue tears and laughter as we show a slide show of my mum through the decades.
On to the food though, after all this is a food blog. The venue was Bury Lodge near Stansted Airport. It is a converted 16th century barn and makes for a great party or function venue. It is almost one long room, a bar at one end, and the disco down the other. The room looked stunning but then I knew my mum would have it very tastefully decorated. As we were just finishing checking things the first surprise turned up in the form of the cake. The very talented Lucie of Wonderland Bakery made a cake for us with giant cupcake and some smaller single ones for everyone to enjoy. The theme was my mum’s icons so there were some Mary Quant designs and images of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra and to add some of her history to it, there were a few images of London, her childhood home. The cakes went down a storm and I gather a few people had theirs for breakfast the next day.
We had a sit down meal which on events like this always worries me a little. There were about 80 guests and I am sure most of you have been to large events, weddings and such like where the food has promised much but delivered little. Usually you get overcooked mushy or almost raw veg , dry meat and a super sweet dessert that wasn’t brought out of the freezer in time. I have to say I don’t always look forward to the food at such events and I do feel for the chefs having to provide perfectly cooked food for that many people all in one go. Before I tell you how the food was, here’s the menu:
Prawn & Crayfish cocktail
Crispy chicken & bacon salad & a herb oil.
Pork belly stuffed with apple & sage in a white wine & cider sauce
Lamb cannon with a red currant jus
Sherry & summer fruits trifle
Cheese & biscuits
The prawn & crayfish cocktail is a fairly standard starter and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. The crayfish were very tasty as were the prawns and the sauce was moorish. Not the sickly overpowering cocktail sauce you usually get. I don’t know if the chef made the sauce himself or if it was a ready made one but either way it was delicious. Those on the chicken & bacon seemed to be tucking in and enjoying their starters too so we were off to a good, well, start.
The mains are always tricky and I was eager to see how they would turn out and to say I was surprised was an understatement. The lamb was maybe just slightly overdone for how I like it but it was still pink in the middle, moist and had a great flavour. The jus was light and the veg was cooked perfectly. I could have eaten it again it was that good. I think the trick here was the choice of cut for the lamb. Everyone had their own individual cannon of lamb which I would think helped them control the cooking a lot better. As for the pork, it looked great and had amazing crackling on top.
As for the desserts I can’t really comment much as I had the cheese & biscuits. I do have to say that the selection was very good and it came with some fresh crisp celery, grapes & crackers. I enjoyed it immensely and could tell that the cheese was of good quality. I’m unsure what the desserts were like but I did only see clear plates going back.
The chef, owner and staff should be commended on the quality of the food and service as everyone was given their meal quickly and there didn’t seem to be any confusion over who had what. Although it was a good idea that on the back of our place settings our choice of menu had been put on the back so the waiting staff could see it and didn’t have to ask what we had.
Bury Lodge certainly restored my faith in banquet dining and I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking for a venue. This is a place that doesn’t just churn out food on a large scale, you can tell they actually think about the quality and are more concerned with providing a great service rather than just taking your money. So well done to Teresa and the team and thank you for a great night.
For more information on Bury Lodge :
Phone 01279 816737 or email email@example.com
For your cupcake needs speak to Lucie at Wonderland Bakery:
www.wonderland-bakery.co.uk and you can even have cupcake classes too.