James Beard House: Upstairs/Downstairs at Downton Abbey



NYC Prowler stopped by the James Beard House to attend a Downton Abbey dining experience, branded “Upstairs/Downstairs at Downton Abbey”.  The critically acclaimed series is now entering its 3rd season, which premiered this past Sunday.

The idea for the dinner started about a year ago over Twitter between JBF Award Winner Alexandra Guarnaschelli (Butter and the Darby, NYC, and now the newest Iron Chef!) and Sara Jenkins (Porchetta and Porsena, NYC) who first thought it would be a fun idea to create a dinner inspired by the popular PBS show. The Twitter conversation was brought to the attention of Izabela Wojcik, Director of House Programming at the JBF.


The idea of a dinner ties in so appropriately with Downton Abby with all the delectable meals that we see our favorite characters indulging in.

Back in the Edwardian Era food signified social status and the more courses the better (Usually ranging from a 6-22 course meal) with an emphasis on meat and fish.  Alexandra Guarnaschelli, Sara Jenkins, Ashley Merriman (The Waverly Inn), Tamara Reynolds (The Sunday Night Dinner), Colleen Grapes (The Harrison and the Red Cat) helmed the kitchen and Sarah McCusker (Wine Director at The Waverly Inn) paired the wines.

The James Beard House (in the west village) is the eccentric former residence of James Beard himself.  The James Beard Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that programs dining experiences that are designed to educate, inspire, entertain, and foster a deeper understanding of our culinary culture.  It offers the rare opportunity for the public to enjoy uniquely curated menus by world-famous chefs and witness them in action.


The Downton Abbey Inspired Menu

  • Hors d’Oeuvre
    • Crab–Celery Tea Sandwiches à la Patmore
    • Baked Asparagus à la Grantham
    • Miniature Herbed Yorkshire Puddings
    • Crawley Family Buttered Cucumber–Watercress Sandwiches
    • Dowager Countess Pâté on Truffled Brioche Toasts
    • Champagne Paul Laurent Brut NV
  • Dinner
    • Caramelized Onion–Sherry Soup with Duck Heart, Leek, and Cognac Pie
    • Gutiérrez Colosia Sangre y Trabajadero Oloroso Sherry NV
    • Poached Hake with Smoked Oyster Aïoli, Potato Croquette, and Caviar
    • DRB Montée de Tonnerre Chablis 1er Cru 2010
    • Standing Rib Roast with Horseradish Cream, Buttered Brussels Sprouts, and Carrots; and Inky-Pinky > Leftover Beef Stew with Fried Rashers
    • Château Haut-Maurac Cru Bourgeois Médoc 2009
    • St. Clement’s Meringue Tart with Figs, Almonds, and Chartreuse
    • Broadbent Five-Year-Old Madeira NV
    • Petits Fours > Parkin, Napoleon III Chocolate Truffles, Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles, and Brown Sugar Shortbread
    • Take-Home Gift > Rose Fondant Candies

Wine Pairings

Gutiérrez Colosia Sangre y Trabajadero Oloroso Sherry NV – Spanish for “Blood and Worker”, originally made for butchers.

DRB Montée de Tonnerre Chablis 1er Cru 2010 – A White Burgundy, a likely choice of Edwardian-Era aristocrats.

Château Haut-Maurac Cru Bourgeois Médoc 2009- This is a Claret (aka Bordeaux).  This would have been a typical red table wine of the Downton Abbey time.

Broadbent Five-Year-Old Madeira NV – an after-dinner fortified wine, similar to a Port.


Check out the James Beard House events calendar for more unique dining events!