Review: CUES annual dinner

Elsa Maishman 25 April 2016

In previous years the Cambridge University Engineering Society dinner has been similar to a college formal. This year, for the first time, the dinner was held at the Fitzwilliam museum, making for a classy and high-quality event.

We began the evening with a walk across the museum’s impressive fourcourt – one of the very few oversights was that nobody had considered how those of us in ill-advised high heels would manage balancing on the gravel.

We were then welcomed into the museum’s anti-chamber and supplied with either wine or a sparkling raspberry cocktail. Both were delicious – although the cocktail was a little too sweet for my liking. 

Throughout the reception in this beautiful gallery, waiters ensured that our glasses were never left empty for long. We were served canapés – one of which was salmon and caviar, the other (as far as I could make out) a crouton with roasted pepper wrapped in courgette and drizzled with sweet balsamic vinegar.It was fantastic. The piano music added a pleasant ambiance, preceding the guest speaker, who delivered his mandatory recruitment pitch in the most entertaining way possible.

The guests were then ushered through to our dining tables in the gift shop. Some tables were unfortunately close to stacks of brightly lit merchandise, but this was inevitable as the shop area is the only place in the museum that food can be eaten.

The food was magnificent. We began with a starter of sheep’s cheese on a bed of chopped golden beetroot and pear, followed by a main course of guinea fowl with potato fondant salsify, spinach and mushrooms. The guinea fowl was sublime, as was the potato – the mere memory is enough to make my mouth water.

Following this we were served a lemon tart, perfectly complimented by a raspberry coulis and blueberry custard.

Finally, the meal was rounded off with coffee (served with cream), chocolates and the best fudge that I have ever tasted.

The wine – provided by sponsor Chapel Down – was wonderful and in ample supply.

The evening's entertainment began with a beautiful piano accompaniament to our canapés, followed by the extraordinary magician Vangelis Anast. After the meal, the a cappella troupe Cadenza rounded off the event with a stellar performance. 

In my experience, the evening was excellent value. A standard society formal at my college will cost you £37 for three courses and as many glasses of wine. For CUES members this dinner was £40 – only £3 more, but with the addition of unlimited wine and champagne, as well as canapés, entertainment, and an extraordinary location. 

The event was very well-organised, and went off without a hitch. The idea of balloting for tickets rather than a manic rush to purchase them seemed to have worked as well – as many guests I spoke to were pleased to have been spared the stress. 

10/10

Additional reporting from Bea Hannay-Young