“Mad Men” Retro Dinner: a fabulous flashback to the ’60s

Wow, if you missed the “Mad Men” retro dinner, you missed a good one! As the chronicler of these events, The Tenant apologizes for being a bit behind because of technical issues regarding the posting of the video. I had really wanted to resolve those before going ahead with the review, but it looks as if it may take a while, so I’m going to go ahead anyway by illustrating with some still shots, and I hope to be able to resolve the video problems later.

A few Bistro guests–the ladies, at least–really got into the spirit of things by dressing for the occasion, which is exactly what Marc and Ruth hoped for. The men, not so much, so we ended up choosing only a female winner of our costume contest (by applause). The prize went to a certain lady by the name of Mary from Chagrin Falls, whom you can see here in her vintage leopard hat. Mary really decked herself out, from coat (her mother’s, she said) to dress to gloves and shoes: truly a deserving winner.

As for the meal? That was a winner, too. I missed a few of the early drinks, but I must confess that the Grasshopper served with dessert was very yummy. Tasted like a liquid, intoxicating version of a Girl Scout Thin Mint. Indeed, it would have made a fine dessert all by itself!

As for the food, the throwback-style hors d’oeuvres and courses served as a reminder that even in an era when Americans were generally not all that adventurous about their dining tastes, there were still pleasures to be had. The Shrimp-Stuffed Deviled Eggs were a simple delight, each

topped with a fresh shrimp and a sprinkling of orange caviar. Sausage and Crab Stuffed Mushrooms with Herb Beurre Blanc Sauce were rich and full of flavor.

Certainly Betty Draper (at least back in the days when she was hosting dinner parties for Don rather than counting her calories as Mrs. Henry Francis) would have been proud to serve up Oysters Rockefeller like this: buttery and spinachy and bread-crumbed, with a squeeze of lemon and just enough oyster liquor to make for delicious imbibing.
Then we came to our ’60s salad. To be honest, I thought this was going to be one of those dishes that would be authentic, but so-so compared to what we usually consider a salad today. True, back in the ’60s (and even in some very traditional steakhouses today) they just loved to serve those big wedges of tasteless iceberg lettuce ladled with dressing and maybe a scattering of bacon or tomatoes or something, but weren’t they a little ho-hum? Well, not this one. What I learned here is that when it comes to a traditional iceberg wedge salad, the dressing makes all the difference between a salad that’s a yawn and a salad

that’s WOW. This Thousand Island dressing was housemade and tasted it; the fresh chopped tomatoes blended into it only made the whole thing more of a refreshing eye-opener.

The main dish was the kind of impresser you’d expect to find coming out of the kitchen if Pete and Trudy invited you over to Cos Cob for an evening: Beef Wellington. It’s beef filet in a tux, one made primarily of puff pastry, and tender and juicy inside that jacket. Gently golden brown, deliciously sauced, it fit right in with the theme of the evening.
Our grand finale was grand indeed: Individual Baked Alaska. I’d never had Baked Alaska before in any style, but I knew what it was made of, and, well, you’ll never find me arguing against ice cream and sponge cake enrobed in meringue. Ours were delightfully decadent desserts served in twin pools of raspberry coulis and chocolate sauce. Couldn’t have been better.
The Baked Alaska even served as birthday cake for one lucky diner celebrating a natal day. It certainly looked as if everyone had a truly fun time at this dinner, and the positive feedback was coming in even before the evening was over: at least a few guests want the Bistro to do it all over again, even down to the same menu! From drinks to food to classic ’60s tunes playing all night, it was filled with style and taste. A delightful time-traveling trip–no sugar cubes required (unless they were for putting in your after-dinner coffee)! One thing’s for sure: if there’s even an encore presentation of this episode of “Mad Men,” you won’t want to flip the channel. Drop in, tune in, and turn on–you’ll love it!

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