- Beetlejuice and Lydia at Thunderbird's bar
Thunderbird has revamped its Dinner and a Movie series and now has brought us Culinary Cult Classics. The idea behind the new dinner series is simple, yet fun and different. A cult classic film is chosen — think Rocky Horror, The Big Lebowski, films by Tarantino, Wes Anderson or, in this case, Tim Burton — then a team of chefs and bartenders create a menu with that film as the theme.
- Our handbook for the first Culinary Cult Classics: Beetlejuice
The place was perfectly decorated with plenty of green neon lights, cobwebs, a model town and even a floral “wallpaper” with the word mauve spray painted on it.
Looking around the room I was happy to see nearly all of the guests had come dressed up, many people taking notes from the film and wearing their best black and white pinstripes or black lace galore. However, we also were two seats away from ketchup and mustard — they probably have those in the Burton-verse.
- "You read my mind."
As the film went along we were presented with dishes mere minutes before each cue in the movie let us know it was time to eat. This was far and away the most impressive aspect of the evening. Having been to many dinners like this — and also having worked dinners like this — we were blown away by the kitchen’s ability to present, hot, delicious, unique and fully plated dishes on such a schedule. I tip my bat carousel hat to the chefs Kristen York and Lindsey Wheeler, and (solo bartender for the evening) Josh Gonzales for pulling this off; it truly was the most ‘magical’ aspect of the evening.
- Not the prettiest, but some of the best bone marrow ever
Another bonus to this dinner is the addition of vegan options for the evening. When we arrived we were given a “totem” denoting that my girlfriend is vegan and the servers were able to let us know which dishes had replacements that met her dietary needs. This was much appreciated as at most food events she is left to enjoying only the alcoholic options of the evening. This time she was able to not only enjoy all of the cocktails, but also two larger dishes and a dessert.
In fact, her replacement option of BBQ jackfruit was one of my favorite bites of the night and truly shone light on the incredible abilities of the chefs in creating dishes that most anyone can enjoy.
A signature aspect of any great cult film is generally the quotablity, as well as the inclusion of memorable scenes. In Beetlejuice, the stand out scene comes at the dinner party and is accompanied by the classic Harry Belafonte tune, Banana Boat Song (Day O). Now that we all had a few cocktails in us as soon as the Maitlands began using their ghostly presences to make the Deetz family and their dinner guests dance around in one of the funniest scenes in cinema, the crowd in Thunderbird joined in in dancing and singing, leading to possibly the most memorable point of any dinner I’ve attended in Indianapolis.
- The menu for the first Culinary Cult Classics at Thunderbird
For dessert we were gifted with a few options, but the dark chocolate truffle with Pop Rocks in it was delicious and nostalgia-inducing all at the same time. I don’t think I’ve had Pop Rocks since watching Urban Legend when I was eleven — I can’t die like little Mikey from the Life cereal commercials.
As the film came to an end and Day O came back on, everyone joined back in with singing and dancing. And then with the fade to black the audience came together in applause for everyone involved. The servers were on top of everything, the food and drinks on point, the film was as great as always.
Gonzales and team thanked everyone and let us in on the next film to come in the series, which will be happening sometime in December. It’s another Burton classic and perfect for the wintertime setting, Edward Scissorhands. The food at the next dinner will be prepared by Carlos Salazar and the culinary team from Rook. According to Gonzales he had stopped the Dinner and a Movie series because doing it every month was getting to be too much, but this series only comes every two months, giving plenty of time to prepare and to conceptualize meals as flawless as the one we just ate.
This is a new and exciting dinner series to keep your mind on, it truly offers something for everyone. To keep up with the series and see which movies will be covered and which chefs will be crafting the meals make sure to follow Thunderbird on Facebook.