An Easy DnD-style Tavern Menu

 

This past weekend, I put together a Tavern-style menu for some back-to-back Dungeons and Dragons campaigns we were running. And while I’ve put together Tavern-style feasts or medieval-themed snacks before, this time I wanted to go all out. I prepared a full Tavern’s menu, with food and drink choices for the players, and acted as the “wench” throughout the run of their campaigns, filling orders whenever there was a good break in the gameplay. (It takes a special person to enjoy making and delivering food instead of playing DnD, but I swear, I had a great time!)

I made the menu using Canva, my ultimate favorite graphic design tool. It allows you to make great images very quickly, even if you have no graphic design skills. I would highly recommend it! See the full menu and descriptions of each item below.

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Foraged Salad: I got a large box of spring mix and combined spring greens with items that look like it could be foraged from a forest. I added a variety of mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, and rainbow carrots. It’s a great way to offer a simple green salad and “pretty” it up a bit! I couldn’t find them in time, but I’d also recommend topping the salad with an edible flower or two from flower delivery Brisbane who are fast and liable.

Stuffed Eggs: Stuffed eggs are period appropriate, but they often stuffed them with cinnamon, raisins, and other sweeter spices, and then fried them to make them a bit crispier. I decided to cheat a bit and use a typical “Deviled Eggs” recipe.

Roast Goose: I created a couple of fake options on the menu to fill it out a bit. If anyone asked for the roast goose, I told them it ran away.

Stew: (Pictured below.) Go figure, I had to make stew on the hottest day of the year. Luckily, my slow cooker did all of the work and I didn’t have to turn on the stove. I used a recipe for Garlic Rosemary Beef Stew, and put it inside of sourdough bread boules, found at Trader Joe’s. (Potatoes are not accurate to the time period, but I kept them in because they’re delicious and an inexpensive way to fill out the stew.)

Sandwich: I hope you don’t have any vegetarians attending. This is a meaty menu. The sandwich was a French Dip: I heated up slices of deli roast beef, topped it with some slices of Provolone, and served with a side of Aus Jus. (I used a seasoning packet to make it nice and easy.)

The Fancyman’s/Commoner’s Feast: (Pictured above.) The Fancyman and Commoner Feasts were other joke items, the overall dish would be similar no matter which one the players ordered, but I may have simulated some additional “bites” and crumbs on the plate for the Commoner’s Feast. I picked up an assortment of inexpensive but delicious meats and cheeses, and paired it with some fruit and mixed nuts. I tore chunks of the bread instead of cutting it which added to the authenticity. This item got a huge reaction from the tables both times I served it.

Scones: I made scones a day in advance, so they were all ready to go. When ordered, I reheated one in the microwave for about 20 seconds, split it open, and added some butter and jam.

Tavern Stew

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 Ale: It’s historically accurate that they drank ale instead of water, so it’s the top of the menu. (Although if people asked for water, I did give it.) I just picked up a large variety pack of Ale from Costco.

Wine: The wine doesn’t have to be pricey, unless your friends are snobby about that sort of thing. I picked up $3 Chuck and decided to make a joke of it. You could also pick up an inexpensive wine and create your own label to put over the bottle.

Cider: I picked up some bottles of Hard Ginger Cider from Trader Joe’s. It’s extremely gingery, but that made it feel a bit more unique and old-timey.

Mountain Water: Something watery, from a mountain, and it’s a local favorite? That would be Rainier beer. (Although some players pointed out that this could also be Mountain Dew!)

Tea: Pretty self explanatory. I made up a batch of iced tea in advance and had hot tea on standby. This was great for anyone who didn’t want an alcoholic beverage or needed a bit of extra caffeine as the game went on.

Fireball: It’s just Fireball. (Mixes well with the Cider or Elixir of Life, or great on its own.)

Elixir of Life: I wanted a caffeinated beverage on the list, and my friends love Coke Zero, so that’s what this was.

What items would you add to your Tavern menu? (Also, holy cow, read the comments. So much great insight and suggestions for other historically accurate menu items!)

57 Comments

  1. I can’t possibly describe how much I love this.

  2. I’d eat there! Actually it’s almost the menu from my favorite pub http://www.horsebrass.com/food/menu/

  3. This is so creative! I sure it made for a great gaming session!

  4. Parsnips and rutabagas make good Old World substitutes for carrots and potatoes, which aren’t period, as you mention. Lamb or goat could be an option for the adventurous. Perhaps a lamb stew with parsnips and rutabagas instead of beef stew with carrots and potatoes? Mulled wine is also an option – 1 gallon of cheap red wine, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, some cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg (IIRC), bring to a simmer, strain with cheesecloth, serve warm. I make it a day ahead of time and microwave it. The extra day actually makes it taste even smoother!

  5. LeThir the Devious

    Mulled mead served warm. A bottle of Chaucers runs around $15, and it comes with mulling spices!

  6. Potatoes are only period innaccurate on planet earth, faerûn could be another matter entirely.

  7. I’d have to point out, if you are trying to be period acurate, there would be no sandwiches. At least on Earth, they weren’t invented until the 18th century, although wraps may date back to Hillel the Elder around 100BC.

    OF course some civilizations, such as the people of Lamuella will never invent the sandwich, and only learn of it several years after the destruction of earth, when Arthur Dent arrives.

  8. A ratatouille style dish for the vegetarians could have been a nice touch. However, absolutely fantastic and will definitely be doing something like this for my next session.

  9. This is awesome! I don’t play Dnd, but I like to have period style food when I am reading various fantasy or historical fictions books/movies. Im not the only one! Yay! You can find mead at the specialty stores and it’s not usually too expensive. It tastes like flowers! I hope you made them eat with their hands.

  10. We have been doing this for years. My group plays every Sunday. During the week I come up with a menu and the players pitch in $5 to 10 each to have the actual food that is on the tavern menu. We have even gone as far to make our own wines and other spirits. I find that it does add to the game and my players look forward to the tavern feast every weekend.

  11. We do a few things differently.. We get rotisserie chicken, or bake our own.. Country style ribs for what we call ‘roast beast’… Mountain Dew is served as a ‘mana potion’… There are always apples, and big blocks of hard cheese..And sourdough loaves to tear off of. We are also working on a collection of steins to serve ‘grog’ in, LOL We don’t worry about period specific. It is a fantasy game, after all. I’m hoping to find a good recipe for ‘coney pie’ or some such to add to the menu.

  12. Since meat was a relatively scarce item reserved for those who were well off, you might want to look into doing some sort of porridge? If you have an early morning group, you could make it with chopped fruit (apples, pears, etc.) — or with root vegetables and herbs for a lunch/dinner type thing.

    There are a number of interesting recipes here that could be adapted to your particular palate / dietary requirements

    http://www.godecookery.com/mtrans/mtrans.htm

  13. Oh, that is so much fun! I would love to do something like this! I just wish I didn’t live in a state with stupid liquor laws :/ Here in PA they can’t sell beer or wine at grocery stores, so no cheap stuff from Costco or Trader Joe’s. Maybe someday I’ll move or PA will change their dumb laws XD I would still love to host this kind of feast, just maybe with less alcohol.

  14. I’m pretty sure you are me. I love this!!!

  15. THIS IS AMAZING!
    I love the Fancyman’s/Commoner’s Feast! What an awesome idea.

    Next time I host a gaming weekend, we’re going to do something like this, maybe with fewer options, but dang, this is awesome. You rock!

  16. Maybe you should of done Gully Dwarf Stew instead of the beef stew

  17. Within our gaming world, potions of haste look and taste like Mountain Dew.

  18. This is perfection.

  19. This is great! I know what I’m doing next time all the boys come over for a game!

  20. This is possibly the greatest DM ever. If they put that much time and effort into a meal for their players, I can’t imagine how amazing the campaign is. I would love to be a member of the party.

  21. We’re planning to do something like this for our gaming session this weekend. Though I’ll skip the menu and serving…I don’t have that kind of patience. LOL But I’m thinking about an Irish lamb stew with soda bread, and pre-made roast chicken (for the roast goose) as well as the various finger foods. The great thing about most of this is some of our group have dietary restrictions, and there should be a little something for everyone. Thanks so much!

  22. Omgosh, I’m going to have to do this soon at a game night! I’ll probably only be able to do one at a time, maybe two (we have 6 in our group), but that will be awesome!

    Madog Barfoug, I’m going to make that stew with parsnips and rutabaga, they actually add a richness that potatoes don’t have. Ooooh, it’s on.

  23. Carrots are indeed Old World vegetables; it would be potatoes, tomatoes, corn, beans, and peppers (chili & sweet) that you would have to avoid to be authentic in the medieval sense. Oh, and peanuts & chocolate! Now, of course this only applies to Earth’s pre-industrial period; the Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Dragonlance, etc. would all have their own fantasy ecologies and histories 😉

    It’s amazing when you think about it – pizza, pasta & sauces, chili, curries, szechuan, and dozens if not hundreds of other dishes, wouldn’t exist were it not for the great explorers and traders of the last 500 years. And the thousand generations before that who domesticated those plants so that human civilizations might grow and flourish. Look at the crazy forward-thinking required in the case of corn …

    Thanks for the delicious list! I must concur that mead makes a lovely drink to go with any game – as long as people can keep their heads 😉

  24. Simply awesome.

  25. If you wanted a more genre-appropriate carb for the stew, you could use pearled barley in place of potatoes. The water absorption is different from potatoes (barley sucks it up pretty greedily) so the ratio will be different and you’d have to experiment but it makes for a great stew. I use it all the time; generally just 1/4 cup of barley in a pot of stew.

  26. I passed your post on to my teenage sons, who like to entertain and also play D&D. A few ideas…

    If you serve lamb, call it mutton as I’m sure only the rich would indulge in lamb. Sheep give more bang for the buck.

    Serve roasted (stuffed?) Cornish game hens, but call them pigeons

    Pottage (vegetable soup thickened with oats) was pretty typical, and I like this recipe from King Arthur. Make it vegetarian or put scraps of mystery meat in it. I would use a lot of leeks in it:

    http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/pottage-recipe

    White bread was more upper class. I found this pretty awesome discussion/recipe about the bread commoners would have eaten:

    http://oakden.co.uk/maslin-bread-recipe/

    Sparrows roasted on a spit would be a good “fake”: menu item, “Oops, they flew off!” They would have been pricey anyway, if they hadn’t flown off:)

    Have you thought of creating two different (but equally fun) menus, depending on the social class of your players’ characters? This menu from the J. Paul Getty Museum education department has some more upper class Medieval fare:

    http://blogs.getty.edu/iris/files/2011/01/kings_feast_recipe_pack.pdf

    The sandwich is a bit of an anachronism, as already noted. A combination of turnips, rutabagas, and parsnips should work fine in the stew in place of the New World potatoes. For beer, oatmeal stout always feels pretty Medieval to me.

  27. These are fantastic suggestions, Leta! Thank you!

  28. And I forgot to mention in there: Great job! I love your menu and ideas.

  29. This is possibly the best comment thread on any of my posts, ever. Thank you all for your historical insight, suggestions, and stories! I obviously took some liberties on historical accuracy based on my own players’ dietary preferences, and love all of your suggestions. I’m going to add a revision to the post, making sure everyone reads the comments!

  30. Janette Whitlock

    I think I’m related to you lol; role-playing, booze and meats.

  31. We don’t play DnD (mostly because we don’t have enough players), but this seems just as great for an all day Lord of the Rings or Hobbit Marathon. :3 The soup looks great, and I agree about the potatoes. The Irish in me won’t let me have a stew without them.

  32. Following your blog now as I am also a geek hostess 🙂 One of my World of Warcraft guild mates posted a link to this post on Facebook. Do make another post next time you do a D&D evening! I think you are on to something.

  33. This is one of my favorite thing about tabletop as a grown-up, with other creative adults. So much more sustaining, and interesting, and immersive, and thematic, than Cheetos and Mountain Dew.

  34. I’m playing D&D for the first time this weekend, and this post is exactly what I was looking for! I’m super excited to give this a try, thank you!

  35. One time our DM had the group hit the local farmer’s market, think it was even worked into the game as I recall …

  36. If you want to get really adventurous for a feast check out http://www.innatthecrossroads.com/ for recipe ideas. I’ve had great fun using recipes from there.

  37. Unnecessary to to omit potatoes for accuracy. After all, this is not medieval Europe, this is merely a place whose cultural is reminiscent of medieval Europe. And they grow potatoes there.

  38. For the mulled wine: Use a tea ball or fillable tea bag designed for loose-leaf tea, and put the spices in that. It’s much easier than cheesecloth, though less authentic.

  39. Thanks for the inspiration. We will be adapting this (i.e., not using alcohol) for our homeschool DnD group.

  40. Ah, potatoes…we had to restrain a knight in our campaign once from murdering a villager (a crotchety old woman in fact) who threw potatoes at him. Granted, the knight had a few, er, comprehension issues…By the way, for the travelers who have accumulated ridiculous amounts of gold and demand more royal fare at one of the high-end taverns, be sure to use a lot of saffron in your dishes, a staple in palace kitchens during medieval times.

  41. heres another collection of medieval material, not just recipes, from a duke of the SCA, who does a lot of research http://daviddfriedman.com/Medieval/miscellany_pdf/Miscellany.htm

  42. Lady Lyllydd de Cassan

    1. check out Cariadoc’s Miscellany at http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/cariadoc/recipe_toc.html for real medaeval recipes.
    2. Look for some of the books by Peter Brears on Amazon.
    3. If you are truly detail-oriented, get a copy of both volumes of Cindy Renfrow’s Take a Thousand Eggs Or More.

    D&D is mostly based on Europe in the middle ages. Real medaeval recipes are fairly simple to replicate if you can get a book with modern redactions. All 3 of the above sources give recipes with modern measures and cooking times, and offer substitutions for ingredients that may be hard to find.

    If you want more fantasy-based recipes, you could try Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook. Mind you, the Discworld is based on present-day England, so those recipes are honest-to-gawd English recipes that have been in use for years.

  43. What sort of plate/platter is that that you’re using for the Feast? Where could I get something like that?

  44. Teezoen, it’s the Nambe butterfly cheese tray with knife. You can find it here! http://amzn.to/2csazZh

    You can also find other less expensive cheese trays anywhere. I like something with a rustic/wood look to it for tavern meals.

  45. I love this idea! It retains a bit of the game mystique, and it stops players reaching for the junk food too – always a bonus.

  46. I just found this site and I love it. The timing is perfect for our gaming group’s Halloween party. Thank you.

  47. Thanks for providing it.

  48. I came across this link, and remembered your post 🙂 It is a scan of a 1888 reprint of two 15th Century Cookery Books. You can download the pdf:

    https://archive.org/details/twofifteenthcent00austuoft

  49. Leta, this is AMAZING! Thank you for sharing!

  50. Great job! I’m stealing elements of this for our sessions.
    Thanks!

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