Pop-up school dinner themed dining fun

Spam Fritters, Turkey Twizzlers, Toad in the Hole, Fish Fingers and a scoop of mash – nope, it’s not what my six year old rattled off when I asked him what he’s had for lunch on his first day back at school the other week.

These 1980s school dinner-inspired dishes where just some of the nostalgic options on the menu at The Local Pantry at their popular regular Friday night Supper Club.

From the outside the joint could be mistaken for a 1950’s, back-of-beyond-in-God-knows-where, slightly run down American diner but that only adds to the charm and this family-run farm shop and cafe on the A658 to Harrogate, just outside of Otley is one of my absolute faves.

The Supper Club, which is obviously a huge hit with the locals, went all out to ensure that the ‘Back to School’ theme was followed through to every last tiny little detail. A pop-up tuck shop featuring retro sweets dominated the window.

Tables where scattered with pencils and exam papers, and the pretty waitresses donned freckles, pigtails and school uniforms, much to the delight of the majority of men in the room – including Derek and his friends over in the corner, who, at evidently, well over the age of retirement, had rocked up in peep caps, shorts and braces.

Not just any spam fritter…

The highlight however, was the grub. It’s a little disconcerting ordering a spam fritter for a starter whilst sipping on a glass of decent New Zealand Savignon Blanc (very reasonably priced at under £14 a bottle). But the waitress assured me that I absolutely had to go for it. At the risk of sounding like the bird in the M&S advert – it wasn’t just any spam fitter…

Well she was bloody spot on! Who would ever have thought that a spam fritter of all things could be so incredibly, mouth-wateringly tasty –  pressed Yorkshire ham hocks with parsley and wholegrain mustard in a cider batter. Served with homemade beetroot chutney.

I expect Harry and Wills were served something similar at Eton in 1988. Fit for a prince they were.

Tomato soup featuring Isle of White tomatoes and turkey twizzlers made from minced turkey meat in a light breadcrumb coating, twisted and fried, served with Bracken Hill tomato chutney wherethe other starter options. We ordered the lot between the four of us and devoured every last crumb, condiment and spoonful.

The main course choices were Toad on the Hole made with chicken and pork sausage in a Yorkshire Pudding Gravy. Stew made from tender, melt-in-the-mouth beef served with horseradish dumplings, and fish fingers chips and beans.

Birdseye? Hardly… more like cod tail from Ramus in Harrogate, deep-fried in lemon breadcrumbs served with proper hand-cut chips.

The lovely folk at The Local Pantry were not going to let us leave without eating our vegetables – Charred cauliflower, purple carrots, Yorkshire peas and buttery mash accompanied our mains, along with a selection of waist-busting sides – Mac n cheese made from macaroni with a charcoal cheese sauce topped with breadcrumb and grated cheddar.

Mushy peas – proper marrow fat peas. Homemade potato smiles served in a paper bag and homemade baked beans made from butter beans slow cooked with tomatoes, leeks, carrots.

We all devoured the lot – like hungry school kids after a double session of PE. Only washed down with a decent bottle of Malbec.

Dessert? Well what do you think? This 1980’s school-dinners inspired, feast of nostalgic fun and flavours had to of course finish with a trio of proper Brit puds – cornflake tart, jelly and ice cream and sponge and pink custard.

Not a custard lump or custard skin in sight – just another mind-blowing, waste-expanding course of comfort food heaven.

We were all packed off home at just after 11pm with a paper bag of beetroot and chocolate chip cookies. Homework? –  a good few days of working off the thousands of calories we all consumed in what was, probably one of the tastiest, proper meals I’ve had in a long time.

Can I leave the table now Miss?

We loved it so much that we are heading back on Friday (29th September 2017) for their Mediterranean Fish Supper Club.

Back to School night was £20 per person for 3 courses. Keep up to date with what’s on when on the Local Pantry’s website. Thanks to the lovely Susannah and her wonderful team for hosting us.