- Christina Pickard
On Monday night I experienced my first ever supper club.
Now before I launch into the evening’s delights, first you must know one thing. When I was a kid we used to drive past this dodgy bar on the corner of a dodgy street in a dodgy part of my home city (Syracuse, NY). The bar was called the ‘Supper Club’. About 15 years earlier someone had been murdered at the Supper Club, and therefore my mother, convinced that the murderer was still lurking outside the bar all those years later waiting to pounce on the next minivan to drive by, would always call to her children in the backseat, ‘we’re passing the Supper Club kids, lock your doors!’. Locking the car doors whilst driving past the Supper Club became a bit of a family tradition and I must admit I automatically lock them every time I’m home for a visit and driving in the area.
NOT the Supper Club in Syracuse…
So it was hard to wrap my mind ‘round the idea of going to a supper club that wasn’t a murderer-hiding haven of filth. Luckily this supper club would have had my mother opening the car doors to invite everyone inside.
For those of you who don’t know (like me until recently), a supper club has come to be a generic term for a pop up and/or underground restaurant. Here is what good ‘ol Wikipedia has to say about it: ..a small underground club (often with roving premises which are only reavealed to the guests when they buy a ticket), where guests eat from a restricted or set menu and are expected to fraternise with other guests who they may not know. A slightly stilted, rather badly written definition, but you get the point. Supper clubs are the anti-restaurants. Not recommended for a romantic dinner for two, but a great way to meet cool people and eat fabulous food without breaking the bank. They’re all the rage on London’s ‘foodie scene’ at the moment and I can see why. The concept of the supper club I went to, Stolen, is that they ‘steal’ dishes from top restaurants and serve them, perhaps with a twist and of course for a lot cheaper than you’d pay in the restaurant itself. Brilliant idea.
Stolen do a take-off of a different restaurant each Monday night. The night I went it was an ode to Mark Hix’s Oyster and Chop House. Yumm.
Our lovely host Mia showing us the juicy cuts of beef we were about to be served
The candlelit dinner was held in a shell of a house that was being renovated from the bottom up. The bare brick and exposed beams gave the place heaps of charm and felt a bit like what a romanticised version of squatting would be like (save for the fantastic kitchen area which was the one ultra modern, ‘finished’ bit of the house).
The chefs hard at work
On arrival myself and about 11 other guests were greeted with white wine in the garden (‘Tonnix’, a fruity Douro number from Quinta de la Rosa, which was a blend of Codega and Rabigato grapes and was made specifically for Mark Hix. It was supposed to go with seafood but it went down the hatch before I got a chance to try it with the oysters..oops.).
Garden pathway. I got rather excited by the beautiful herbs and veggies thriving there.
Our first course was Oysters with a kind of bloody mary sauce and soft, warm bread. Mia said they’d had to get up at 4am to get the oysters from Billingsgate fish market. Now that’s dedication.
Next up was rib-eye steak with three different sauces, straw potatoes, and a perfectly dressed salad. The steak could’ve been warmer, but it was cooked and seasoned exactly right. I brought a bottle of Jose Maria da Fonseca’s ‘FSF’, a delicious Portugese red given to me by my friend’s father when I was in the country in January. A blend of Syrah, Trincadeira, and Tennat, it was a good example of a traditional wine with a modern twist. Soft yet full juicy fruits worked in harmony with dabblings of chocolate and tobacco spice. A good match with the steak.
We finished off the evening with sloe gin jelly shots and sorbet (none of us could figure out what that cream was for though..). Perfectly light and palate-cleansing after a heavy main dish.
As it was BYOB, and several of my fellow dinner guests were wine and food bloggers, bottle-sharing of course abounded. A little too much perhaps…I stumbled home, and after two repeats of Sex and the City, the room finally stopped spinning…
If you’ve never been to a supper club before, go!! They’re a fun alternative to conventional dining out, a great way to socialise, and I’d venture to say the food’s often better! Or has at least been made with more love and attention.
A special thanks to Denise aka The Wine Sleuth for inviting me along to Stolen’s Monday night supper club.
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