If you’re feeling “young, scrappy and hungry” before the Tony Award-winning show “Hamilton,” try the Revolutionary Period-inspired foods at the Eccles Theater.
The story of Alexander Hamilton, “the ten-dollar founding father without a father,” inspired the staff of the theater’s Encore Bistro to celebrate some of the most popular foods of the time — think squash, fish, bourbon and fruit pie.
Two Federalist wines, a chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, also were ordered exclusively for the hip-hop musical’s 3½-week Salt Lake City run, said Maxine Turner, owner of Cuisine Unlimited Catering, which operates the bistro.
Turner and her staff spent more than 100 hours researching what Hamilton, Aaron Burr, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson might have eaten.
“Jefferson was a real gourmet,” Turner said. As the U.S. minister to France before becoming the nation’s first secretary of state and later its third president, he “brought a lot of culinary ideas and food from Europe.”
Hamilton was more about public policy. “Entertaining had a purpose,” Turner explained, “but it wasn’t about the food.”
Turner said the colonists were not initially drawn to the native foods of North America. “They waited for ships to come from England with supplies.”
So what exactly did Hamilton eat?
Here are some possibilities — and a few of the Encore Bistro options that ticket-holders can eat before the show.
Squash • Pumpkin, squash, beans and corn were some of the staple crops of the colonies. The bistro will celebrate this early bounty with pumpkin soup topped with hazelnut crème fraîche ($6.50 a cup; $8.50 bowl); and a roasted acorn squash stuffed with wild rice, currents and toasted almonds ($13.50 à la carte or $32 as part of a three-course dinner).
Salmon • Fish and shellfish were abundant, found in the ocean and rivers that snaked through the colonies. The bistro’s bourbon-glazed salmon with mashed sweet potatoes and yellow squash is a modern-day incarnation of the fish.
Meat • The colonists hunted game birds native to North America, including quail, grouse, geese and woodcocks. They also raised domestic animals such as sheep, cattle, pigs and chickens. Theatergoers seeking beef can order the braised short ribs, in a sandwich ($13.50) or as an entrée, with mashed sweet potatoes and yellow squash ($32).
Spirits • The colonists were leery of drinking water from rivers and streams, so fermented or distilled beverages — beer, cider, whiskey and rum — were made by individual households, said Turner. Many of these family endeavors developed into lucrative colonial businesses. Beer, wine and spirits are available — with food — in the bistro. Beer also is served from concession stands.
Wine • With time spent in France, it’s no surprise that Jefferson was said to be a connoisseur and had wine imported to the states. Madeira was the most common offering in the colonies, as the fortified Portuguese wine was the only one that could survive the long ocean voyages. For the Broadway show, the Eccles Theater special-ordered two cases of The Federalist wines, a brand that pays homage to the Founding Fathers. Depending on the varietal, the bottle labels feature Hamilton, George Washington, the Statue of Liberty and even Abraham Lincoln. For cities on the Broadway tour, the company will give all the wines a Hamilton label, said Turner.
Desserts • During the time period, fruits were usually cooked and served in pies and cobblers. And “even though we now know Washington never really cut down a cherry tree,” Turner said the bistro staff couldn’t resist serving a classic American cherry pie for dessert ($6.50).
A satisfying menu
Encore Bistro is open two hours before each matinee and evening performance. Reservations are suggested at 801-509-7871 or encorebistroslc.com.