I think it’s safe to say, that 2016 has been a fantastic year of eating for me. From pop-ups, to exploring new openings, old favourites and tasting menus – I haven’t done too badly. I have many highlights (take a peek of my Instagram @nataliebrereton to get a taste – like what I did there?!) but one evening in particular stands out as a favourite, the Durty Gurties Alice in Wonderland themed pop-up dinner in November.
I met the wonderful Pudsey family by chance at another food event earlier this year, when I approached their table to ask to take a picture of their dessert as I had scoffed mine, typically. It was then I discovered they were ‘Durty Gurties’. Unfortunately, I had missed their last pop-up at Avery’s Wine Cellars due to it being sold out, so was determined to make it along to their next event.
The details of the November pop-up were mostly shrouded in secrecy; the location was kept under wraps – we were just told we would be picked up by bus from the centre, the menus were not released until a few weeks before and we were encouraged to wear fancy dress. Oh and wigs, whips and bibles were due to make an appearance during the course of the evening. If anything, we were in for some cheeky surprises and lots of fun. I liked that everything was going to be a surprise.
If the beginning of the evening was anything to go by, this was going to be my sort of dinner party. Unfortunately, Bristol traffic made me and my friend unfashionably late for the party bus but the Durty Gurties crew never leave a diner behind and soon we were on route aboard the banging bus; think disco lights, a booming sound system blasting out dancehall classics and a raucous atmosphere, everyone was in their element. The whole gang had also made a huge effort on the fancy dress front as well and with that, we were off down the rabbit hole…
We arrived at our venue and were welcomed into a fantasy world at Kings Weston House. It was glorious. We had drinks served in the portrait gallery whilst watching a beautiful woman perform an aerial silk act accompanied by a harpist. I almost felt as though I had gone back in time and it was lovely to mingle with fellow guests before sitting down to dinner, a perfect start.
As we were ushered down into the dining room it was apparent to me just how much time, care and attention had been taken in decorating the venue and turning it into an adults playground; so many little details made for a gorgeous setting whilst little trinkets and ornaments were dotted around on various walls and surfaces. The atmosphere was abuzz with chat and laughter and I have to hand it to the waiters and waitresses who meandered through the busy tables with ease and who were all so cheerful and friendly.
So, THE FOOD! The menu featured many British classics with modern twists and I was tempted by all of the dishes, it was difficult to choose but between us my friend and I had decided to order and share. Starters were Welsh rarebit scotch egg with homemade smoky ketchup and the smugglersboard of rye bread, lobster nugget, smoked salmon and shellfish. Mains included fillet of plaice filled with crab thermidor, pea custard and fat chips and also the goat and pot pie. Finally for dessert, we had ordered the Wiper & True double chocolate stout cake and West Country apples. (To take a peek at the full menu – click here http://durtygurtiesdiningroom.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/DGDR_3_menu_DP_20102016_V01.pdf)
Highlights for me included the Welsh rarebit scotch egg, the fillet of place and without a doubt the double the Wiper & True double chocolate stout cake which was indulgent but utterly moorish. My favourite dish of the evening was the rye bread topped with lobster nugget, smoked salmon and shellfish. I have not tasted a dish quite like it and the juxtaposition of the textures teamed with the rye bread was just delicious, the fish was fresh and cool in my mouth and was an absolute joy to eat. Washed down with a few bespoke cocktails the dinner was delightful and I couldn’t help but think what a fantastic idea this type of event would be for a birthday or any special occasion.
The best was yet to come when me and my dining companion along with fellow foodie and friend @Shonette were plucked from our seats and rushed into another room alongside screams of “we mustn’t be late!” – we were then surrounded by bodies putting clothes on us whilst telling us to pose and snapping photos, with music blaring we were settled down in front of the Wonderland Ouija Board where our fate was sealed, some of us did shots, some had oysters, it was madness but in the best kind of way and I loved it.
The whole evening was an experience not matched by any other event I have attended. It was playful, theatrical and most importantly bloody good fun with just as much effort going into the food as had the décor and details. Everything about the evening worked well and my jaw was aching from laughter come the end. I cannot wait to see what these guys come up with in 2017, but keep your eyes peeled as events sell out and if this dinner was anything to go by, they are not to be missed.