LONDON – It takes a strong stomach to be a fan of “Game of Thrones,” a blood-soaked saga set in a brutal fantasy kingdom.
It also takes a strong imagination to design a mouth-watering menu based on the television show. Chef Jamie Hazeel has done it, and he says creating delicacies such as traitor’s tongue and smoked serpent was a challenge.
“Python is a bit of a tricky meat,” Hazeel said, deftly slicing a long piece of pinkish flesh. “So we’re using smoked eel instead.”
A temporary restaurant, punningly titled “All Men Must Dine,” opens in London Friday to mark the DVD release of season four of the HBO series. Over three nights, fans chosen from 12,000 competition entrants will be served a 10-course meal in surroundings inspired by a council chamber at King’s Landing, capital of the program’s Seven Kingdoms.
Hazeel, co-owner of catering company The Wandering Chef, is also a fan, and has let his imagination run free for a menu that draws on medieval recipes and dishes mentioned in the TV series.
“Honeyed fowl is a big thing in the show, the taste of luxury,” he said. “I wanted to recreate what I thought the taste of honeyed fowl would be.”
The result is honey and lemon-glazed quail, stuffed with apricots, almonds and sultanas, one of several dishes on the menu rich in fruits and spices. Other courses “may be slightly off-putting to a modern audience,” he admitted, including honey-fried locusts and a dish of poached calf tongue titled “the lies of Tyrion Lannister.”
The dinner invitation warned that the meal is not suitable for vegetarians. No kidding. It’s a riot of fish, flesh and fowl, including pigeon pie, a “dinosaur Scotch egg” – it’s really from an emu, and enormous – and a roast suckling pig on a pyre.
Dessert is bone-marrow creme brulee, served in a real bone dripping with blood-red sauce.
“We wanted the food to be really theatrical,” Hazeel said.
Based on novels by George R.R. Martin, “Game of Thrones” has won a coveted mix of fan adulation and critical praise with its blend of fantasy, realpolitik, violence and sex.
A marble-clad former Masonic temple – incongruously located inside a Victorian-era London hotel – has been lit with candles and adorned with the flags of “Game of Thrones” clans Baratheon and Lannister to serve the feast. Guests can also expect a knight, a contortionist, live music and a pair of wandering jesters singing a jaunty ditty titled “Incest is Best.”
Feasts in the “Game of Thrones” universe don’t always end well – as anyone who has seen the infamous “Red Wedding” episode can attest. But Lalie Jacout, Hazeel’s business partner, says his guests have nothing to fear.
“We have a lot of surprises in store, but they will leave safely,” she said.