Excitingly yesterday marked our very first 100 club! To kick off the first club lunch we decided to revive Derek Bentley’s (grandson of founder Bill Bentley) favourite lunch. He ran the restaurant with an iron fist through the fifties, sixties and indeed the late seventies. What inspired the lunch was a magazine article that featured in the famous Punch magazine, March 10th 1971.
Bentley’s pioneered the locally sourced and traced, Oysters were cultivated in their own beds in West Mersea in Colchester and still to this day are sourced from the same beds. So it was fitting to begin the lunch with a selection of British hot & cold oysters.
Our next course was a stunning piece of Scottish line caught Salmon from the great River Tay, thankfully some things do not change in our 100 year old establishment, smoked in a traditional wood chip smoker exactly how it was done over 35 years ago. Lovingly poached and allowed to cool it was garnished with cucumber and wild asparagus.
The main event was Roast Saddle of Lamb, Sweetbreads, Ceps & Sweet Pea. This was a controversial one, Derek put this on the menu as in 1971 in support of his dear friend Caroline Conran, another British institution, they had been under a lot of scrutiny on her release of her cookbook ‘Poor Cook’ by her and Susan Campbell, they preached of ways to use alternate meat cuts, yes those days lamb was not as popular. People could not see this as a glamorous meal and with that he decided that it would feature on Bentley’s. The popularity of lamb exceeded everyone’s expectation, the Conran’s had truly proved that they were great trendsetters and visionaries, incidentally in seventy one their own company was seventy years old already.
We ended with a perfectly light Lavender & White Chocolate Pannacotta, Strawberry & Honeycomb dessert. Never one for heavy puds Derek opted for simple deserts, strawberries and handmade ice cream or a wedge of British finest cheese. More importantly, it was what you ‘washed it down with’ in his case he loved a great cognac, or sometimes even….controversially he would order what he called a ‘chaser’ a double Dubonnet on ice’ fun factoid, despite this being the Queen’s personal favourite tipple, the brand owners Pernod-Riccard do not hold a Royal Warrant. The Dubonnet was optional however tea, coffee & petits fours we’re included!
The whole team are already looking forward to hosting the next 100 Club on Sunday 19th June, get your tickets now because if it’s anything like yesterday it’s sure to be a busy one!
Book your tickets here!