Kristine O'Brien, an IPFW career counselor, was excited to try dishes from her native England during Thursday's soft launch of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management restaurant."I was expecting spotted dick," said O'Brien, who comes from outside London.
Instead of the British pudding made with suet and dried fruit, she waited for the Victoria sponge cake and sticky toffee pudding that would follow the entrees at the restaurant, The Stag, in the Holiday Inn-IPFW, 4111 Paul Shaffer Drive.
Students delivered elderflower fizzes, a pleasant lime-infused alternative to the ubiquitous American pop, and Scotch eggs. Those used to eating the pub food straight from a fryer might be surprised by the coldness of the pork-encased cooked egg, which lay on a bed of greens with a dark dressing.Each semester the students design and operate a restaurant, usually with dishes from a particular country or region. About 20 people attended Thursday's free tasting, designed to gain feedback for the students on the food and table service for the British-themed restaurant. According to a news release, the students have described it as “a British pub meets 'Downton Abbey.'”
Putting together dishes in the hospitality industry isn't a matter of just trying recipes and seeing what tastes good, explained John C. Niser, hospitality department chairman. It's about creating a price point and finding food that fits into that. Final pricing is still being worked out, but the entrees will range from about $6.99 to $12, and the dishes must be designed for people to be in and out during their lunch hour, he said.
"It took (students) three weeks to find the right fish," Niser said of the fish and chips. They chose cod that is frozen once, instead of twice, and has "the right flavor for the price."
He likened the dishes to a theatrical performance. "Each plate has to have a star." For example, for the fish and chips it's the fish, and for the ploughman's lunch it's the raised pork pie.
Students Ashley Dancy and Kaley Fulk, wearing Union Jack bow ties as part of their uniforms, delivered the "stars" and the supporting cast to the table that O'Brien shared with Andrew Hartzell, the Hilton Garden Inn's food and beverage manager. He graduated from IPFW's hospitality program last year.
The fish and chips came with tartar sauce and a green condiment that O'Brien quickly identified as "mushy peas." The ploughman's lunch included a bit of raised pork pie, cheeses, hard-boiled egg slices, pickles, bread and chutney. O'Brien was delighted with the full English breakfast of tomatoes, fried egg, sausages (bangers), black pudding or "blood sausages," ham and toast. Hartzell passed around a basket containing Cornish pasties (pronounced pass-tees for the meat pie). While the tables were sharing food family-style for the tasting, the final dishes will be served individually when the restaurant has its grand opening next Thursday.
"OK, now I'm going to tuck in," O'Brien said. She seemed most impressed by the sausages, going back for seconds, and liked the food in general.
However, both she and Hartzell found the pasties a bit too dry. Though they're traditionally dry, O'Brien said the meat usually has a gravy.
She was looking forward to the Victoria sponge, which instead of the traditional raspberry jam sandwiching the cake layers came with a refreshing whipped cream and fresh sliced strawberries. However, she and Hartzell agreed the yellow cake was a bit dense. However, they both liked the sticky toffee pudding drizzled with a gritty brown sugar sauce.
Each filled out their comment cards as Niser stopped by the table again, earlier having pointed out to the wait staff about the lack of teacup saucers. Tweaks are likely for the recipes based on the comments, with some people saying the mash (mashed potatoes) were a bit dry. However, the difficulty with the Victoria sponge means it's off the menu, Niser said later.
At least there's a picture of Queen Victoria on the wall, even if her teatime cake didn't make the final cut.
WHAT: The Stag
WHERE: Holiday Inn Fort Wayne-IPFW, 4111 Paul Shaffer Drive
HOURS: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Thursdays through through April 28
CALL: Walk-ins are welcome but reservations are recommended by calling 267-0310.
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