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7-Course Victorian Meal Anyone?

  I have been emailed by several people who have asked me, “So, you like to dress in historical attire/costume.  What do you serve as the dinner?”  Good question!

For the events that Somewhere in Time, Unlimited in Seattle puts together, we’ve either catered in food or we’ve done potluck sort of events.  Down side of potluck is that you wind up cooking and then still have to schlep all the food to the event whilst you are now in full costume regalia!  I’ve heard the stories of the dumped meatballs on the front of someone’s costume…

I now belong to a Yahoo group that is called A_Victorian_Place.  The lovely Pflavia was kind enough to send out her version on the 7-course meal.  I think it is creative and could be done at someone’s home or at a large gathering (if you had help by serving or catering staff) and would be a really wonderful treat for a special ocassion. 

Here’s what she wrote:

As promised here is my menu for a 7 course Victorian dinner with notations for appropriate wines and kickshaws (extras or side dishes) and what is to be removed afer each course:

Each place is set with a charger plate, topped with a small plate appropriate to the entree, water, sherry, white wine, claret, and champagne goblets and all the silverware to be used until the dessert course.
1. Entree course.  Usually oysters or grapefruit half (I hate oysters and went with the grapefruit, each in a footed sherbet dish, everyone was fascinated). Chablis 
(remove grapefruit bowl and underplate, wine glass and fruit spoon)
2. Soup a la Reine (Queen Victoria’s favorite), Mock Turtle, or Chowder, served with oyster crackers, olives, celery and sardines (there are sardine boxes in which an opened can of sardines is placed, made of either silverplate or glass with a silver lid and a sardine serving fork) to be passed.  Sherry
(remove soup bowls and underplates, sherry glass and soup spoon)
3. Fish course (I served Lobster Newberg over toast points made with the fake lobster, but any sort of fish  is acceptable) with cucumber salad. Sauvignon Blanc
(remove chargers, plates, cucumbers, fish knife and fork but leave wine glass)
4. This is the main course and can consist  of one or several heavy meat dishes, depending on the number of guests.  I chose Beef Collops au Bordelaise, (my other options were Chicken Florentine or Chicken Tarragon) (if a beef dish is chosen, be sure to have mustard and horseradish on the table), sauce boat with extra bordelaise, buttered green beans, sliced tomatoes, applesauce, and rice pilaf.  Claret
(remove dinner plates silver and red wine glass)
At this point all of the kickshaws are removed.
5. Salad course.  Any green salad is good.  A Victorian favorite was shredded iceberg lettuce (sometimes wilted) dressed with either mayonaise or oil and vinegar served aith saltines and cheese (stilton, bleu or sharp cheddar).  White wine
(remove everything except water and champagne goblets)
Place finger bowls (on dessert plates with a doily on each).
Remove the bowl and the doily and place dessert silver and berry bowls at each place.
6. Dessert course.  I chose to serve two; fresh strawberries in sherbet dishes and powdered sugar to be sprinkled over them, and peach crisp with hard sauce.  Champagne
Now clear everything off the table (the Victorians even removed the tablecloth, I didn’t) except the candelabra.
7.   Coffee (demitasse which is very strong and never served with cream, or regular with both cream and sugar available.  I also served tea) is served in appropriate cups on saucers with a spoon.  A bowl of walnuts, in the shell, and a compote piled with chocolates is placed at both ends of the table.  Nut crackers (1 or 2) and nut picks (enough for all the diners, but not put at their places) as well as the coffee/tea spoons are the only silverware.  Cognac, Brandy or Liqueurs
In case anyone is interested, we were discussing The Hound Of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at this dinner party.  I ran the old Basil Rathbone movie during dinner, but it was in the living room, so we didn’t actually see it.  The gentlemen wore tuxedos and the ladies wore evening gowns.  My 18 year old daughter was kind enough to serve, dressed as our maid in a long black dress and crisp white apron.  It was a lot of fun. 
It’s a pity we all live so far apart or I am sure we could get up any number of dinners and possibly even a ball!
What a gal, huh?  Thank you Pflavia for providing such detailed instructions, suggestions and great menu!


Lady Victoria and husband Sir Harry of Essex (London), reside these days in picturesque Seattle, Washington USA. They interact with a number of vintage or antique groups, including the historical costuming group Somewhere in Time, Unlimited. Come, enjoy an afternoon with Lady V and Sir Harry!

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