Further to my blog about how the metrosexual Vikings at the British Museum exhibition are at odds with their screen portrayals, I have further evidence. After my tour, I had lunch in the revamped Great Court Restaurant — new and quietly improved by the architects Softroom, with the previously echoing sound cleverly dampened by a canopy and mosaic floor. I found its Viking Set Menu quite at odds with what Hollywood encourages you to expect.
No flagons of mead; no gigantic drinking horns; no rending sheep limb from limb and chucking the bones in a heap. Instead, I had a starter of nettle soup, with chopped egg and chive; a main course of guinea fowl (rabbit was off) in a mead reduction; and for dessert, blossom honey cheesecake in a ligonberry compote.
I had no idea the Vikings feasted on blossom honey cheesecake in a ligonberry compote, but there it is in the British Museum, so it must be true. More plausible, perhaps, is the other dessert: roast plums and ice cream. Maybe not the ice cream part, but you can certainly imagine the Vikings roasting their enemies’ plums, which is precisely why I politely declined that dish.
The final blow to the Vikings’ macho screen image was the assembled company. Directly behind me, Sir Richard Rogers (under Norman Foster’s roof!) was intently talking business with a table of architects. As a result of a certain television programme, I was expecting the restaurant to be full instead of men in horned helmets dining on, and singing about, spam, spam, spam, wonderful spam.