In the last hours before everyone goes to the polls, MPs are making their way across the country trying to convince us to vote for them. During this time, the Palace of Westminster is almost empty, and Parliament is making the most of this by offering the public a chance to dine in this stunning building.
The beautiful Pugin designed Dining Rooms on the Principal Floor are where MPs and House Staff alike can enjoy fine dining standard food, with view of the River Thames and Southbank. The Members’ Dining Room (usually for MPs only), was first opened up to the public in November 2014 during a short Parliamentary recess and was a great success. Now during dissolution (the period where Parliament does not sit before an election), they ran 6 lunches over 3 weeks in conjunction with Bookatable.
Previously working for Catering Services in the House of Commons, one of my last projects was to prepare all of the menus for these lunches – and I couldn’t resist booking myself a table to go back and try the food, as I’d been a very regular customer during my time there! The food offering across the Parliamentary Estate ranges from cafés and cafeterias to fine dining and banqueting – the majority made in-house by a large team of chefs (many of whom regularly win competitions and appear on national culinary teams), headed up by Executive Chef Mark Hill (also the Culinary Co-ordinator for the Craft Guild of Chefs).
High ceilinged with panelled walls hung with works of art, the Members’ Dining Room is everything you would expect to find in a Gothic style Palace. It gives a very grand first impression and it seems most people today are here for a special occasion meal. However, the style of food in the dining room is much more on trend than you would imagine – modern takes on classic dishes, with ingredients and techniques that wouldn’t be out of place in a Michelin starred kitchen.