1973 Menu from Brisbane theatre restaurant

A 1973 menu from The Living Room theatre restaurant in Brisbane

This 1973 menu from The Living Room theatre restaurant in Brisbane is such a great example of how Australians used to dine in the early 1970s. It comes from Jeffrey Pratt’s post on the I Grew Up in Pascoe Vale Facebook group. Admittedly, theatre restaurants were probably not trendsetters when it came to menu innovations but their menus were no doubt designed to please the masses.

Apart from the oysters natural, French salad and assorted cheese, there are very few dishes on this menu that you would find on restaurant menus today. Many of the ’60s and ’70s classics are there, including garlic prawns, chicken Kiev, chicken Maryland and the redoubtable ham steak and pineapple. The menu helpfully separates the fish, meat and chicken courses, allowing the diner to go straight to their protein of choice. Starters, of course, include prawn and seafood cocktails, while no self-respecting dessert list of the era would omit Crepe Suzette.

Notable is the separate category for lobster courses, with five classic dishes. And that’s not including the rather odd steak and lobster combination that heads the meat section. The restaurant obviously liked to fiddle with its steak dishes, with the house special “Living Room Steak” stuffed with ham and cheese. The simplest meat dish is the unadorned T-bone.

The Living Room was unusual, in that most theatre restaurants at the time offered fixed menus, or menus with a very limited range of choices, making it easier to time service around the performance.  Originally in Edward Street, Brisbane, The Living Room moved around the corner to Margaret Street in 1975. History doesn’t record exactly which show coincided with this 1973 menu, but it may have been Who Pealed Our Belle, which was on the bill for 1974. Other shows during the 1970s included Dracula, Revenge at the Golden Garter, and Mata Hari the Magnificent Spy. I don’t think it was high art.

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