The expression “walking dinner”, which is common in Belgium, South-Africa and the Netherlands. In fact, if you look up the term on Google, 90% of the results are in Dutch. The French term for it is a cocktail dînatoire. A walking dinner Is a catering option whereby guests are not seated at tables but can move around as they wish, while the dishes are offered to them on trays. It also refers to as a restaurant crawl where every course of the menu is in different locations.
What’s on the menu?
It can be almost anything, think of tapas or appetisers. But you could also minimise salads, soups and even complete main courses. As long as people can eat it without having to sit down, you can be as creative as you want. In my blog appetizers and finger food, you can find some good options you could serve at your walking dinner.
Walking Dinner at your party
This way of serving your guests is ideal for groups of 20 or more. You can serve every dish yourself, have your guests pass around the tray of food for you, or have your favourite caterer come in and serve you and your guests. This type of service would give you the opportunity to enjoy your party without the organising stress. But if you love cooking for your guests, keep reading :).
How to create your menu
To organise your walking dinner, you need dishes on your menu that you can eat while standing. But they should not necessarily be finger food. Like in the pictures in this blog post, there is a tomato soup, pasta, salad and sliders. All of which could be regular menu items or something you would find on a buffet, but just a bit smaller. Just keep in mind that all of the items are fast to put together or are easy to heat/ reheat. While some dishes would speak for itself, others might need some explanation. You could make little cards with what is on the plate or instruct your designated server about what it is.
Mini is the magic word when it comes to search for menu inspiration. Pinterest and Google are full of great ideas and amazing pictures, but keep in mind that the execution of each menu item should be easy and fast. You don’t want to feel rushed while cooking and entertaining your guests. The idea is that you prepare a dish, serve it and start on the next one. That does not have to be right after the other. There can be an interval from let’s say 10 to 15 minutes.
If you decide to cook and serve yourself (which is easier as it sounds), have a platter of some antipasto, cheese and cured meats, some bread prepared. If some of your guests are hungry, there are some snacks for them.
List of walking dinner menu item ideas
With salads, you have almost an unlimited range. Serve in a whisky glass or on a small appetiser plate with a small fork. You can mix fruit with nuts and lettuce with a lemon honey vinaigrette. Or serve a Caesar salad with grated cheese and prosciutto.
Serve this in a glass as well. Any pureed soup would do. One of my favourites is a roasted red pepper soup. You can garnish it with a prawn skewer. Delicious!
- Mini main courses
Here is where you can be creative. Think of any main course and see if you can minify it and either serve it on a tray or individual plates. Keep in mind that your guests can eat it while standing. Menu ideas could be mini beef Wellington, sliders, and even pasta served on a spoon or in a glass.
With the walking dinner menu, it is possible to serve more or only vegetarian options. Since you have the array from salads to desserts, the menu can be inspiring, delicious without your guests waiting for the ‘main course’ (meat). Since we already have some vegetarian soup and salads, how about a veg lasagne served individual ramekins, Thai noodle stir fry, wonton wraps with raw veggies and avocado.
The easiest of the bunch. Just make smaller portions, so it is better to handle. Think about a crumble, Bavarian cream, flavoured custard, strudel or fruit tarts
You could combine your dishes with shots. Like making tiny taco cups with a shot of tequila. A bloody mary shrimp cocktail, a spoon with a grilled scallop and vodka. Or serve a shot of beer with a small burger.
That’s it! I hope you found some inspiration and ideas for your party And I would be happy to cater at your walking dinner service!
If you have any questions or have some great menu ideas for a walking dinner, you can share it in the comments below.