Review: Harry Potter Formal
Great food and owls(!) helped Features Editor NATALIE GIL have a magical evening at Homerton’s Harry Potter Formal.
I wasn’t sure what to expect of a themed formal – would it be too tacky and try hard? But, given that one of Homerton’s Harry Potter formals sold out in two minutes, and the other in less than a minute, I had high hopes that my fears would be ill-founded. Why was this so popular? Was THE Hagrid going to be lovingly waiting on us? Would Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and co. be popping in for a chat between courses? Surely something spectacular was in store. So, did it live up to my expectations? Would I get £18.50’s worth of food, fun and frolics? And more importantly, would it be worth the trek all the way to Homerton?
As we entered the door to The Great Hall, which, to be fair, does look a lot like Hogwarts, we were greeted with musicians and a plate of jellybeans and chocolate. The combination of Potter melodies and candles created a charming atmosphere. This was a darn good start, and I soon realised that the chocolate wasn’t just your standard formal fare. It was popping candy chocolate – magic!
Sweets also adorned the table tops – like those naff sequins your mum used to sprinkle on your birthday party table when you were a nipper – but tastier. Thanks to these nuggets of almost pure sugar, I was already in heaven. The hall was beautifully decorated with bright silk banners, hand made by students, to represent the Hogwarts houses. I ended up on the Slytherin table, but was too busy shoving jellybeans down my throat to really notice, let alone care.
Before the meal, guests were treated to some role-play, as characters from the books entertained us. The Academy probably doesn’t need to look out for the faux- Harry or Dobby just yet, but Homerton’s outgoing principal, Dr Kate Pretty, performed her role as Professor McGonagall with style and gusto. The Sorting Hat’s voiceover was plagued by technical difficulties, but the laughs that ensued turned the negative into a positive.
Oh, I forgot to mention the two OWLS flying over us!!!!!! To be honest, the food could have been cancelled because these beauties would have been worth the money alone. They blessed us with many (many) minutes of entertainment (really, it was quite a while), flying back and forth and back and forth and… back and forth again. EVERYONE was on tenterhooks: would they catch alight and come crashing down like fireballs towards earth? No one knew!
The one downside of the owls was the trail of feathers they left in their path. I guess JK Rowling forgot to mention that in the books!
Now, on to the serious foodie business – the menu was tempting, because I bloody love pumpkin and ‘scary’ themed food. Unfortunately there was no Butterbeer, but the wine (included in the ticket price) made up for that.
This was delicious, creamy and, unlike most soups I’ve had at college butteries, it was actually seasoned(!) It was probably the best soup I’ve had at a formal and I’ve been craving it ever since. To my horror, my neighbours left theirs completely untouched and just as I was about to pluck up the courage to ask if I could polish it off, the table was cleared (unfortunately not by magic).
Having failed (miserably) to honour Pancake Day, I was eager to make up for it with my veggie main course: Savoury Crêpe with Sun Blushed Tomato & Asparagus filling finished with Basil oil. Ooh la la, I thought. Carnivores ate Slow Braised Lamb Shank with Sticky Red Currant Jus. My meal took a while to arrive because the kitchen was more ‘manic’ than magical. This would’ve annoyed me, had it not been for our apologetic waiter, who was also, frankly, really hot.
When they finally crêped up on me, I was impressed by the professional appearance of my posh pancakes and dived straight in. The asparagus inside the filling wasn’t overdone, as it often is in restaurants, and my fellow diners and I were soon engaging in that awkward sport of ‘you snooze, you lose’ with the sides. I’m not someone who’s usually excited by cabbage, but the Braised Red Cabbage really spoke to me and I couldn’t help but keep going back for more. The carrots and potatoes were also enjoyable. I can’t speak for anyone who ate the lamb, but the empty plates around me suggested it must’ve been good.
Disclosure: I’m a dessert person. I plan restaurant visits around the options written at the bottom of menus, and anything involving chocolate – not just desserts – makes me happy. The Dark Devilled Chocolate Mousse with a Ghostly Cream was the perfect end to a great meal. It was the perfect level of richness – not too sickly, and the perfect size – not too filling… (though this left me wanting to scoff another one, but that’s probably just me being greedy). Plus, in a decidedly un-‘ghostly’ way, the cream was smiling at me.
After the meal, everyone was given the chance to update their Profile Picture by having their photo taken with one of the owls (Pigwidgeon was throwing a diva strop, apparently). Playing with Hedwig put the feathery icing on the cake of a really enjoyable formal. It was an exciting, novel experience and well worth the money.