Performed at the Milk Thistle
, The Raven and The Writing Desk was the first interactive theatre and dining experience created by the Food and Theatre Company
. Based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
and collaborating with The Flavour Smith, Tom Green
; it was a curiouser and curiouser
, culinary adventure complete with White Rabbit and Cheshire Cat. Sadly I was unable to go along to it, but you can read a lovely account of the evening here
, by Oyster and Pearl.
So, when I heard that for their second outing the Food and Theatre Company were creating a 1950s style diner experience with the help of Mi Casa
and, that we would be in Bristol, I decided that we really ought to go.
Billed as Pulp Fiction meets Grease, we were instructed to don our best 1950s gear and meet at Upper Berkley Place promptly, to be taken to a secret location. Singly, in pairs or small groups, people started to congregate, tentatively asking each other whether they were in the right place. Ankle socks, circle skirts and frothy layers of petticoats gave the dames away. Whilst East of Eden
mixed in with a pinch of Jimmy Stewart and the occasional high school jock, marked out the guys.
We were greeted by our hosts for the evening: gum chewing; red skater-skirt wearing; pomp ponytail swinging, diner waitresses with attitude. Following them across the concrete footbridge and into the car park on Jacob's Well Road, everyone's curiosity began to pique. Almost at the top, Jack Rabbit's Diner awaited us, complete with chrome plated hot rods lined up at its entrance.
The joint was jumping to Rock and Roll, Doo-Wop, Rockabilly and Swing, as we were served chocolate shakes with sweetened whipped cream and a juicy black cherry on top. From our car park diner we had a lovely view of the city: rows of stacked town houses; the flat-topped Wills Building; Cabot Tower and Brandon Hill; Queen Elizabeth Hospital School and grounds (I've always been curious about what was behind the wall), with Jacob's Well Road sloping down to the harbour on the right.
Lickety-split, the chocolate shake didn't last long at all, and from behind a cardboard cut out of an Airstream, we could hear good things being cooked up and the smell of smoked sausage and spicy chilli made us salivate. During this interlude, a team of skaters -more Urban than vintage roller derby, skated rings around us with hops and tricks to dizzying effect.
After a bit of a wait, The Chilli Dog -but boy was it worth it. Absolutely huge, a good quality frank was smoky and on the right side of charred. Topped with slow cooked chilli, raw onion and grated cheese; it was served in a soft white sub-roll with Mi Casa's fresh, crisp, mustardy slaw, and a portion of the most killer fries. I have no idea what was on those fries, but they were incredibly addictive, especially dipped in garlicky Ranch dressing that was served on the side. In fact, I'm still craving for them now and hope to goodness that Mi Casa will be selling them on their Cantina
menu in generous portions with a ladle full of dressing, Ranch or blue cheese -please!
For dessert, ice cream sandwiches. Wonderful vanilla chocolate chip cookies, buttery with a sugar snap, sandwiched a whirl of soft whip. Rather than just serve them to us though, we had to show off our moves, following Peggy-Sue doing circuits of the diner on Little Moo
. Simple but utterly delicious, I now get Cookies and Cream ice cream (although I've not found a good shop bought version of it, yet).
Meanwhile, unbeknown to us, members of Swing Dance Bristol
had been dining alongside us all. When the plates were cleared and ice cream sandwiches eaten, they burst onto the dance floor to jitterbug, Lindy hop and jive. With some great music, the atmosphere was fun and infectious and everyone wanted to join in and dance their socks off. We were taught some basic moves to swing, pass, reverse pass and turn. Armed with our new skills or rather interpretations thereof, M and I found ourselves attempting to swing dance to Tequila
by The Champs, in car park on Jacob's Well Road. Who knew?
A fun filled and delicious evening, those cats were cool, daddy-o.