United Kingdom

Café owner discovers 1913 restaurant menu while stripping wallpaper during refit

A café worker discovered a 1913 restaurant menu while stripping wallpaper during a refit - and the owner now plans to recreate historic dishes such as ox tail, grilled kidneys and boiled fowl.

Max Kearns was helping to renovate the mezzanine space in LEAF café, Liverpool, when he came across the menu dated January 15, 1913 - one year before the start of WWI.

It features dishes from the former Yamen restaurant - including lobster salad and Meringues Chantilly with pears - as well as their prices.

The menu's cosmopolitan flare encapsulates the modern Merseyside port city at the time, but the items were aimed at upper middle class diners due to their price, a historian has revealed.

A café worker discovered a 1913 restaurant menu (pictured) while stripping wallpaper during a refit - and the owner now plans to recreate historic dishes such as ox tail, grilled kidneys and boiled fowl

THEN: Liverpool was a well-off city in 1913, with Bold Street - where the cafe (an archive picture) is situated - an exclusive area, not dissimilar to London's Bond Street now, the café's owner Natalie Haywood explained

NOW: Owner Natalie Haywood will add Irish stew and Welsh rarebit from the 1913 menu to her menu permanently to offer Liverpudlians the chance to sample the historic dishes

THEN: Some dishes - such as Tournedos Bearnaise, Consommé de Volaille - come from French cuisine, with Liverpool's role as a major hub for global shipping coming through in the worldly dishes'. Pictured: An archive picture of the café

NOW: Once lockdown restrictions allow it, Ms Haywood hopes to have a historic menu evening where visitors can try more of the unusual items on offer in the café (pictured now)

It features dishes from the former Yamen restaurant - including lobster salad and Meringues Chantilly with pears - as well as their prices

The menu's (pictured) cosmopolitan flare encapsulates the modern Merseyside port city at the time, but the items were aimed at upper middle class diners due to their price, a historian has revealed

What was on the menu in 1913 - and how much is that equivalent to now? 

SOUPS 

Tomato soup - 4d (pennies). Now: £1.20

Consommé de Violaille (poultry consomme) - 4d. Now: £1.20

Cream a la Reine (cream soup) - 6d. Now: £1.47

FISH 

Boiled Cod, Hollandaise Sauce: 10d. Now: £2.46

Fillet Sole, Parsely Sauce: 9d. Now: £2.21

Escalopes of Brill au Gratin: 9d. Now: £2.21

Sole au Gratin: 1s (shilling), 4d. Now: £3.93

ENTREÉS 

Irish Stew: 1s. Now: £2.95

Chicken Cutlets and Spaghetti: 1s. Now: £2.95

Sweetbreads and Peas: 1s. Now: £2.95

Lobster Patties: 1s. Now: £2.95

Grilled Kidneys and Bacon: 1s. Now: £2.95

Tournedos Bearnaise: 1s 2d. Now: £3.44

JOINTS: 

Boiled Beef and Dumplings: 1s. Now: £2.95

Roast Haunch Mutton and Jelly: 1s. Now: £2.95

POULTRY

Roast Chicken and Sausage. Leg:  1s 3d. Now: £3.69. Wing: 1s 6d. Now: £4.42

Boiled Fowl and Ham: Leg: 1s 3d. Now: £3.69. Wing: 1s 6d. Now: £4.42

FIXED LUNCH MENU:

A four-course menu: 1s 6d. Now: £4.42.

Includes:

Soups: Tomato or Scotch Broth

Fish: Boiled Cod, Hollandaise Sauce or Fillet Plaice, Anchovy Sauce

Entree: Sweetbreads and peas OR a joint: Boiled Beef and Dumplings

And sweets options, including a trifle

Some dishes - such as Tournedos Bearnaise, Consommé de Volaille - come from French cuisine, with Liverpool's role as a major hub for global shipping coming through in the worldly dishes'. 

The restaurant also offered Russian, Indian and Chinese tea.  

Liverpool was a well-off city in 1913, with Bold Street - where the cafe is situated - an exclusive area, not dissimilar to London's Bond Street now, the café's owner Natalie Haywood explained.  

The prices are also listed on the menu. A bowl of tomato soup cost four old pennies in 1913 - the equivalent of £1.20 today.

A set four-course lunch menu - which included a soup, fish, entree or a meat course and dessert - cost 1 shilling and 6 pence, equivalent to £4.42 today.

Meanwhile, boiled cod in Hollandaise sauce cost 10 pennies, or around £2.46 now.  

Ms Haywood will add Irish stew and Welsh rarebit from the 1913 menu to her menu permanently to offer Liverpudlians the chance to sample the historic dishes, CNN reports.

And, once lockdown restrictions allow it, she hopes to have a historic menu evening where visitors can try more of the unusual items on offer. 

She said: 'It's really blown our minds that this has been in our building all along - for over a century.

'And to see what they were doing then, how forward-thinking and creative as a restaurant, is so inspiring.

'When I saw it I was staggered, it's like a time capsule hidden in the walls.

'We are so thankful to Max who found it while working as part of our expansion.

'We knew our site used to be a restaurant a long time ago but we had no idea what they were cooking and how advanced it all was.

'We have always known this is a historic building but having the menu in our hands has made it all feel real - something dating back to the first world war.

'Everyone is so excited; we can't believe it and it's already inspiring us with new ideas'. 

While Liverpool was a wealthy city in 1913, the average working class city dweller would not have been able to afford the options on offer.

Food historian and associate professor in history at Liverpool Hope University Bryce Evans told BBC News that the continental influence in the menu is 'typical only of the better-off in Britain at that time'.

Dishes from overseas - as well as the inclusion of vegetables - implied 'cosmopolitanism and, in turn, Liverpool's status as a major city of empire and trade and exchange'. 

The working class ate more of a starch-based diet and had less fat and protein as on offer in Yamen, he said. 

Ms Haywood said: 'It's really blown our minds that this has been in our building all along - for over a century.' Pictured: The menu now

The prices are also listed on the menu. A bowl of tomato soup cost four old pennies in 1913 - the equivalent of £1.20 today

A set four-course lunch menu - which included a soup, fish, entree or a meat course and dessert - cost 1 shilling and 6 pence, equivalent to £4.42 today

While Liverpool was a wealthy city in 1913, the average working class city dweller would not have been able to afford the options on offer. Pictured: A whist book from the old restaurant. Whist was a popular card game at the time 

Liverpool was a rapidly-growing city in 1913, as the early part of the 20th century saw countless immigrants come over from Europe. 

The period was the height of Liverpool's economic success, with the city deeming itself the 'second city' of Britain's empire.

In 1912, the maiden voyage of the Titanic was meant to depart from Liverpool - as the city was its port of registration and the home of owners White Star Line - but it was changed to depart from Southampton. 

The city was also diverse, with countless Italian, Irish and Welsh populations.

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