Saturday, January 26, 2013

Postcard: Dinner at the King's Arms Tavern in Williamsburg

This undated Mirro-Krome postcard features the King's Arms Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia. The caption on the back states:
"Dining in the King's Arms Tavern is a never-to-be-forgotten experience. By candlelight in this reconstructed eighteenth-century tavern you don three-foot square napkins before being served by waiters in colorful colonial costumes. Such delicacies are Virginia ham, fried chicken, English mutton chops, Sally Lunn bread1, escalloped oysters, and green gage plum ice cream are featured on the famous menu of colonial and Southern foods."
The restaurant remains quite popular today. In fact, diners are encouraged to make a reservation the day before if they don't want to be turned away.

And this is how the King's Arms experience is now described on its website:
"Enter the rustic reproduction tavern and be greeted by a server dressed in the fashion of the 18th century.

"Choose from a menu featuring tantalizing southern fare and sumptuous desserts. Colonial game pie and a chop of shoat2 have become house favorites. For a hearty appetite, consider Mrs. Vobe’s Tavern Dinner, a delectable multicourse meal.

"Save room for desserts and specialty drinks, such as Chocolate Fudge Torte, Williamsburg ice cream, a glass of Kir, or Chardonnay and creme de cassis served over ice."
According to some recent reviews on Yelp, the best menu items at the King's Arms include fried chicken, peanut soupe (yes, "soupe"), and the game pie, which includes venison, rabbit and duck.

As of today, the prices for some of these menu items, include:
  • Mrs. Vobe’s Peanut Soupe, $6.00
  • The Cheesemonger’s Selection3, $14.25
  • Colonial Game Pye, $31.25
  • A Chop of Shoat, $32.75
  • Mrs. Vobe’s Tavern Dinner4, $35.75
  • Syllabub5, $6.50

But let's turn back the clock for a moment and check out the vintage postcard. What's that in the lower-left corner?

What the heck? Unless it's the aforementioned Sally Lunn bread, that looks like a gelatin mold to me. What part of the authentic 18th century Colonial dining experience is gelatin representing? Is this perhaps another example of how America's foul and insidious Gelatin Culture seeped into every aspect of life in the middle of the 20th century? 6

1. Sally Lunn bun is a yeast bread that originated in Bath, England, in the 17th century. There is a Sally Lunn's in Bath, and its website contains an thorough history of the bread, weaving Huguenots, secret recipes, the Great Exhibition of 1851, Roman and medieval ovens, and more into the tale. The Sally Lunn bun became popular in the American Southern colonies, which is why it has such a prime place in Colonial Williamsburg. In fact you can purchase Sally Lunn Bread Mix for just $6.95 from the Williamsburg Marketplace.
2. A shoat is a young pig.
3. My wife would absolutely be ordering this.
4. Mrs. Vobe’s Tavern Dinner is described as: "Half of Sage-rubbed game Hen with savory Herb dressing, Scuppernong-Chutney sauce, Herb-mashed Potatoes, and Cook’s Vegetable served with Peanut Soupe and a choice of Williamsburg Pecan Pie or Williamsburg Ice Cream."
5. Syllabub is described as: "Wine-laced Cream whipped to a Froth, seasoned with Lemon Zest,
and garnished with seasonal Berries."
6. Here is a rundown of past Papergreat gelatin coverage:

1 comment:

  1. #1: Are you calling me a Cheesemonger?

    #2: Past Gelatin Coverage might make a pretty good album title.