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Medieval cuisine (roughly 5th to 15th century) in Europe had a plethora of dishes basically unknown to the modern palate: frumenty, pottage, sops, possets, etc.

Are there any restaurants where I can eat these today? Primarily interested in medieval European cuisine, but open to answers elsewhere in the world.

Honorary mention: Cardo Culinaria in Jerusalem, which tried to recreate the authentic ancient Roman dining experience. It had to abandon more and more pretense of authenticity over the years though (persnickety customers insisting on forks instead of eating by hand etc) and eventually closed sometime in the early 2000s.

Update: I've accepted the best answer to date, but am still open to more since no actual restaurant listed so far quite fits the bill.

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    Where are you located, and/or where are you willing to travel to?
    – Martha
    Dec 1 '21 at 18:14
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Willeke
    Dec 1 '21 at 18:44
  • Relatedly, I found this YouTube channel dedicated to recreating historical dishes, if you are up for making your own food. Jan 11 at 1:28
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It's not a restaurant, but you may have luck with the Society for Creative Anachronism (the SCA), and Renaissance Festivals, which SCA members frequent or work at.

The SCA is a group that keeps the arts and culture (and food) of pre-17th century Europe alive. Everyone will be in period correct garb (or at least an attempt it). There will be people of varying experience and authenticity at every gathering, but you need to make an effort to be period correct. There are no "tourist" like at a Renaissance Festivals. Many SCA events involve a feast, or at larger/multi-day camping events, there can be 4-5 "camps" which do a feast every night. Just like everything else the food is authentic to pre-17th century Europe (except where health codes make it illegal).

They have public events, which are likely your best source for finding authentic medieval food. Even at public SCA events you'll be expected to dress authentically. There is a high degree of overlap between SCA and the local Renaissance Festival. Sometimes the Renaissance Festival will have a feast celebrating holidays like the solstice, and the food will be cooked authentically there too.

Most Renaissance Festivals require their vendors show plausibility their merchandise could exists in the middle ages, and is inspired by the period. I doubt everyone was walking around with turkey legs everyday, but that's an easy place to start.

If you need help with period correct, head to the Renaissance Festival

Chat up vendors and buy some things. They will be able to point you to both local groups and internet resources.

Also - the food will be good, but simple and under-seasoned by modern standards. Remember, in medieval Europe spices were very expensive and thus used sparingly.

My guess as to why there are no "Authentic medieval restaurants" is because every other restaurant would beat them in taste. Even places like Medieval Times will serve more modern food.

Medieval building does not mean medieval food

Several answers have posted menus which contain

  • Tomatoes, potatoes, corn and other "New World" food that is indigenous to North America.

  • Carbonated beer - to keep it carbonated you need taps, which didn't exists until 1785.

  • Water, which was unsafe to drink in Medieval times

You'll have a great experience eating at any of these places. The building is 1000 years old, and plenty of history happened there. The wait staff will be knowledgable and the food will taste great.

None of that makes the food authentic.

Your best bet is still Renaissance Festivals and the SCA. Both a Renaissance Festivals and a Restaurant are experiential, but the type of experience differs significantly.

  1. A Restaurant focuses on provided great food and drink. A Renaissance Festival focus on preserving the arts of the middle ages.

  2. Le cordon bleu opened in Paris in 1895. Restaurants usually try to hype their "classically trained chef". Renaissance Festivals go to trouble to make sure both the ingredients and cooking methods were available 500 years prior to this.

  3. At restaurants the entertainment is the food and drink, and not having to clean up after. Renaissance Festivals have glass blowers, blacksmiths, and (my favorite) jousting.

Renaissance Festival isn't selling food. They're selling a medieval experience, of which simple, under-seasoned food is a part.

One more edit

If you read the link about Cardo Culinaria in the original post you'll see why people might not flock to an authentic experience. All the 20th century people were too fancy to eat with their hands and wanted forks, didn't like Carob juice because lemonade tasted better, and called the food "interesting" (read bad).

Medieval people ate raw foods, simple foods, and under-seasoned foods out of necessity. The current raw foods/simple foods movement has nothing to do with medieval cooking.

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    I guess this is a USA answer.
    – Willeke
    Dec 1 '21 at 15:59
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    @Willeke - the SCA has some European chapters as well. Ren Fests are generally a U.S. thing, but Germany has started doing them too. Dec 1 '21 at 16:52
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    Note that the SCA doesn't have public events per se: everyone who attends an event is expected to make an effort to dress as a medieval person. Many events will have loaner clothing available (often called "Gold Key"), but that can be hit or miss in terms of sizes available and, um, embarrassment value. (Often what ends up in a group's Gold Key stash is people's first attempts at sewing, which they get rid of as soon as they learn a little better.)
    – Martha
    Dec 1 '21 at 18:02
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    I've been to a "Renaissance Faire" in Indiana where I was not asked to change clothes nor (I assume) were the ten -to twenty percent of other folks not in costume. Overheard one guy offered some "authentic" food who lectured the offerer on how unsanitary and dangerous it must be if it were really authentic. :-)
    – WGroleau
    Dec 1 '21 at 18:47
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    Renaissance Faires and SCA events are not at all the same thing.
    – Martha
    Dec 1 '21 at 19:05
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Yes, in many German cities you will be able to find restaurants that serve medieval food. I know some of the places as I am actively taking part on some medieval groups and we sometimes meet in such places (before Corona hit).

Places I personally know and can recommend:

Then I know some real beautiful places in France, but the most impressive one with the best "vibe" and food was this one:

These are places that are serving good medieval food and also try to get a good feeling of the general setting.

Also as others have mentioned you can sometimes find good food when you visit the medieval fairs. Though nowadays a lot of times you find very modern stuff being served there.

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    The restaurants may be medieval, but the food doesn't seem to be? Comturei serves up salad nicoise, mozzarella, etc: comturei.jimdo.com/app/download/10427607122/… Dec 2 '21 at 14:10
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    I checked a few menus too: this seems to be mostly medieval in terms of ambience, naming and marketing, but the food itself seems standard traditional German and not different from what you would find a in a typical "Classical German" restaurant
    – Hilmar
    Dec 2 '21 at 14:33
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    @lambshaanxy I concur. Surely any restaurant that uses tomatoes or potatoes can't claim to have authentic medieval cuisine. Dec 2 '21 at 15:04
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    Yeah, I checked the menus of all of the linked restaurants, and not a single one actually serves medieval food. Every single one has potatoes (practically with every dish), and one of them had a dish with both avocados and cranberries. I mean, I suppose the cranberry might be a translation error for some other kind of berry, but avocados? Really?
    – Martha
    Dec 2 '21 at 16:17
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    @Martha et al, the first restaurant has a separate menu for the medieval dishes, no potatoes here. Dec 3 '21 at 8:44
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I have had some trial bites of real old recipes in open air museums, where they cook to show the houses authentic. But it is hit and miss and under covid rules almost never possible.

Some do offer cooking lessons or foraging and preparing sessions, again under normal opening rules. And mostly only in the summer season.

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    This is mostly an Europe answer.
    – Willeke
    Dec 1 '21 at 15:58
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    This museum wealddown.co.uk certainly used to do that a fair bit. Haven't been in some time.
    – Clumsy cat
    Dec 1 '21 at 17:11
  • Hit and miss in what way? Quality, taste, authenticity?
    – jcm
    Dec 1 '21 at 20:46
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    @Clumsycat I think St Fagan's near Cardiff have done things in the past. Nothing obvious in the near future though Dec 1 '21 at 21:52
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    @jcm Hit and miss whether they cook at all, whether they have something to serve when you happen to be in the house and whether they are allowed to share the cooked food with the visitors. The places I have been did offer authentic food, but there might be other places which are less strict to the old recipes.
    – Willeke
    Dec 2 '21 at 16:27
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Bors Hede Inne near Seattle USA:

Sumptuous platters of fresh food, prepared from authentic 14th century recipes, are brought before you. Sight, smell, taste, and touch are brought into play as your fingers, spoon, and borde knyfe dip into uniquely sauced entrees, served on platters, to be eaten from your bread trencher (plate). Fine wine, mead, ale or juice is served in earthen pitchers for your drinking mazer (coffee, tea and soda pop are unknown in these times).

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  • Mildly surprised that (hard) cider isn't listed on the list of available beverages.
    – nick012000
    Dec 3 '21 at 0:12
3

Let me add two suggestions in Sweden.

The restaurant Aifur in Stockholm supposedly serves medieval cousine (I say supposedly because I really have no knowledge of what food would qualify).

One week each year the medieval week (medeltidsveckan) is celebrated on the island Gotland. Supposedly you could find the food there to your requirements.

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You could try and look for experimental archeology groups, and see if you can find one that is interested in cooking, middle ages and is near you.

Experimental archeology is a way to test hypotheses by actually physically trying them out. And it is not just done by scientists but it is a hobby for people as well.

In the Netherlands there is a living history museum with recreated dwellings, crafts and so on from the prehistory to about the middle ages, but I don't remember any medieval food being served (they did have herbal tea in the medieval village, served in an earthen mug). So maybe they have food at other times.

A similar thing are Viking weekends, enacted by volunteers/history nerds. It will depend on what specific individuals are into, some are into dying fabrics the viking way, some are into agriculture or leartherworking. You just have to find a group of foodies.

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  • Any special interest group will have a significant subgroup interested in cooking, so they should just need to find a local group with an interest in the right timeframe Dec 3 '21 at 14:54
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Your own kitchen.

Where can you eat medieval food? Your own kitchen, after you cook it yourself. There are Youtube channels such as Tasting History with Max Miller that demonstrate medieval recipes that you can try yourself. Modern History TV also has a few videos demonstrating medieval cooking for different social classes, and How to Cook That with Ann Reardon has a few videos demonstrating how to cook deserts from the Early Modern period (which is, admittedly, post-medieval). Part of the difficulty with reconstructing medieval cooking is the lack of proper recipes prior to the invention of the modern cookbook in the Victorian era, but you can use these videos as a guide on how to proceed since they've already done the research for you.

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  • One of the things a good restaurant or course will do is getting 'forgetten vegetables' and other foodstuffs you can not (easily) buy in a supermarket. Most of the time you can not buy them at all but will have to pick them in nature and that you should only do with an expert to guide you.
    – Willeke
    Dec 3 '21 at 14:13
  • @Willeke The Internet is a wonderful thing that can allow you to buy many things difficult to procure in person. Just because they're not sold in supermarkets doesn't mean that it's impossible to buy them from specialty stores.
    – nick012000
    Dec 3 '21 at 14:38
  • nick012000, I am talking about foodstuffs which are so much forgotten that they are also not for sale on internet. The kind of wild plants that people used to pick around the village or the fields, or in the local forest.
    – Willeke
    Dec 3 '21 at 14:43
  • @Willeke Well, Tasting History with Max Miller manages to source authentic ingredients for all of his recipes, so it's clearly doable.
    – nick012000
    Dec 3 '21 at 15:12
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There is Olde Hansa restaurant https://www.oldehansa.ee/ in the old town of Tallinn, Estonia. The food is of good quality (it seems they try to be as authentic as possible but still offer things that people love nowadays). In addition to good food, there used to be live medieval music played quite often. There is also craft store selling a big variety of different medieval style crafts and their sweet almonds are sold on the street (the smell is always mouthwatering).

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I would like to add this restaurant: Krčma U dwau Maryí, Český Krumlov. They serve traditional Bohemian cuisine from the 15th century.

http://www.2marie.cz/

Edit: Here's a picture of the "vegetarian feast" https://imgur.com/a/GlwDWiE

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  • Thank you, this is precisely the kind of place I'm looking for! The menu looks mostly good too, although there are a few too many potato dishes in there... Dec 3 '21 at 15:31
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    As far as I can tell, everything on the menu includes potatoes (or "potatoe"). The drinks are also mostly non-medieval (soda, Slivovice...).
    – Martha
    Dec 6 '21 at 15:53

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