The only people I’ve ever met who didn’t like Medieval Times once had their childhoods violently torn from them, leaving a withered, joyless husk in their place.
Well all right, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but a dinner show with chuffing horses and knights galloping round has got to tickle you somewhere. I remember my first visit in 6th grade or so, fumbling for the tender roast chicken with stubby ham-fists, trying to keep it in a mouth busy gawping at grown men striking sparks off each other with (what looked like) devilishly sharp blades. Bollocks, what good fun.
I am pleased to report, both the knights and the chicken have retained their glamour. Medieval Times has many locations, and while I cannot report on any others, the one at Lindhurst has never failed to deliver its brand of historical escapism. On a recent visit, I was fortunate enough to be seated to the King’s left, directly next to the little pallet they impale with lances. At ground zero, Lords and Ladies alike can feel the thunder of hooves pounding the arena, and the solid thunk of sharpened wood piercing a foot-wide target; the King’s court is no slouch either, delivering solid Ren faire acting from a platform three feet by ten. There’s a loose story revolving around a knightly tournament, geared to show off some truly righteous horsemanship and falconry, ending in an epic four-way battle with maces, axes and swords. The whole experience is colored by rock concert lighting glinting off period livery and beautifully groomed, ephemerally shining horses… sort of like the first time you saw George Carlin step out of a phone booth time machine. EXCELLENT!
This is a food blog, though, so let’s get into the food. I’m the first to admit: Medieval Times doesn’t serve gourmet meals, but they sure do deliver the goods. Tender roast chicken, the single spare rib and thick Texas toast aren’t hard to find in the city, but having your server bring each item as a separate course and tearing into it with your bare hands is a unique kind of heaven. I know many a New Yorker who still can’t get over the tomato bisque. For all the vegetarians in the city, Lindhurst provides a special vegetarian bill of fare- this time, it was a starter of hummus dip, and I shit you not, a fat cauldron of delicious bean, rice and vegetable stew. It’s what cowboys would eat to survive a bitter prairie winter, all spices and gut-busting goodness. To top it off, the arena is manned by a dedicated bar staff, with FULL BAR SERVICE as well as spiked, fruity slush drinks.
Decadent? Yes. Bad for you? Most likely. Ask me not to go back? See you later, Bill and Ted!