If you haven’t heard the Off Menu podcast, I strongly recommend it. Hosted by two of my favourite comedians, Ed Gamble and James Acaster, they interview a guest each week who picks their dream menu, with foods from any meal at any time of their life. Their guests range from fellow comedians to actors and presenters, and each podcast is as hilarious as the next. Even though food is the main topic, you don’t have to be a foodie to enjoy it, as the banter and the anecdotes behind each course keep you entertained and laughing throughout.
My husband and I started listening to Off Menu just before Christmas in 2018 on our commute to work, and it has since become one of our firm favourites. One thing that I regularly think about is what my dream menu would be, and because I’m probably never going to be famous enough to be on said podcast, I thought it’d be a good idea for a blog post. It was a lot harder than I expected! Feel free to steal this idea for your own dream menu post – the courses you need to pick are:
- Water: Still, sparkling or tap?
- Poppadoms or bread – or, as James Acaster asks each guest “POPPADOMS OR BREAD?!”
They can be from any meal, any restaurant, at any point in your life – basically, anything goes!
Just FYI: All opinions/recommendations in this post are my own.
I’d go for still water with a cheeky slice of lemon. I’m not generally a fan of sparkling water, but if I’m eating somewhere swanky, I’ll go for bottled water with a slice of lemon just to make me feel extra fancy.
Poppadoms or Bread
As much as I love poppadoms, you can’t beat a nice, thick bit of bread to start of an epic meal. I love wholemeal bread, so I’d have to go for a warm wholemeal roll with a generous helping of butter.
Starter – Warm Chicken and Bacon Salad with Caesar Dressing and Croutons
I’m not usually a starter person. I’d much rather go for a main and dessert over a starter and a main given the choice, but if I’m feeling extra, I’ll go for the whole nine yards. Provided I’ve got my IBS medication on me, of course. I’m sure we’ve all made that mistake of filling up on a starter and by the time the main arrives, you never quite enjoy it as much as you’d hoped, so if there’s the option of something light, I’ll usually go for that. My favourite starter I’ve ever eaten probably had to be what was part of my wedding breakfast. To be honest, the whole thing was definitely up there with my top meals EVER, but if we’re just looking at starters, this was 100% the winner.
What I loved about this was that it was generous with the chicken and the bacon. I’ve eaten so many salads before where the meat part has literally been just a couple of slices – like 10% meat, 90% salad. It was really light and it was a decent enough portion to leave you wanting more, but not to the point where you were starving. I think it was also a good option for a wedding breakfast because it wasn’t messy – knowing my luck, eating soup in a wedding dress would have had disastrous consequences.
Main – Honey Roasted Duck Breast, Boulangere Potatoes, Celeriac Pureé, Greens, and Cassis Sauce
I bloody love duck. For Valentine’s Day 2019, which was also our 10 year anniversary, my husband and I went to Clayton’s Kitchen in Bath. If you’ve never been, I strongly suggest you do if you’re ever in Bath. It’s AMAZING. They have wonderful seasonal menus, the staff are lovely, and the restaurant itself is so pretty and has such a cosy atmosphere. We generally have a competition when we go for dinner, and it’s basically who can order the best course. I definitely think I won this one. Words do not do it justice in how tasty it was – all I’ll say is that the duck was cooked to absolute perfection and all of the extras were just a fabulous addition. Just go there. Whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
Side – Canarian Potatoes
So this doesn’t necessarily go with what I’ve chosen so far, but this is without a doubt my favourite side dish. If you’ve ever been on holiday to the Canary Islands, you’ll probably have tried them before, but if you’ve not heard of them, I’ll fill you in. It’s a dish of small boiled potatoes, served with a chilli and garlic pepper sauce called mojo rojo. The potatoes are usually boiled in salt water to give them a little extra flavour. My husband and I first tried these when we went on holiday to Gran Canaria back in 2017, and they became a firm fixture of our holiday. We tried them in a couple of different restaurants, and a few more when we went again last year, but the best ones had to be from a place called Delicias. They specialised in amazing homemade food, even to the point where they made their own mandarin liqueur and it was all fantastic. If you’re ever in Mogán, Las Palmas, definitely make a trip here!
Drink – Hendrick’s Gin with Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic and a Slice of Cucumber
Not gonna lie, I love a cocktail, but I don’t particularly have a favourite one – I’ll just usually go for what I fancy at the time. That being said, you can never go wrong with a gin and tonic. It’s light, it’s refreshing, and you can easily nurse it, unlike a cocktail which I’ve been known to polish off in ten minutes! My favourite gin would have to be Hendrick’s, just because I love how fresh it tastes with the floral and cucumber notes, and it’s made even better with Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water – which has a slightly spiced, botanical flavour to it. Whack a fair bit of ice in there as well.
Dessert – Sticky Toffee Pudding with Hazelnut Crumble and Vanilla Ice Cream
Sticky toffee pudding is my favourite dessert of all time. It was also part of my wedding breakfast, and I thought nothing would top it. However, a year later for our anniversary, my husband and I, along with the fam, went for dinner at The Weaving Shed in Bradford-on-Avon. The entire meal was incredible, but what topped it off was the sticky toffee pudding. It was delightfully rich, with the tastiest, smoothest caramel sauce, and it was topped with the crunchiest hazelnut crumble. Along with the vanilla ice cream, the combinations of textures and the hot and cold was just BEAUT.
So that’s it. My dream menu as inspired by the Off Menu Podcast. Hopefully this will have inspired you to think up your own dream menu and to check out the podcast itself! As a little extra, I’ve also listed my favourite episodes to get you started – enjoy!
- Episode 4: Nish Kumar
- Episode 6: Joel Dommett
- Episode 15: Sindhu Vee
- Episode 17: Victoria Coren Mitchell
- Episode 37: Tom Allen
- Episode 41: Joe Lycett
- Episode 42: Greg Davies
- Episode 45: Katherine Ryan
Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster is available to listen to on Spotify, Acast, and Apple Podcasts. You can also check out their website here.