Pippalippa and I headed to Hackney last Friday for the Fernandez & Leluu supper club, and I’ve been reliving it ever since. It was part gastro – with delicious, exciting food; but mainly experience – the chance to meet interesting new people, especially Simon and Uyen themselves who were amazing hosts.
Its has made me think about what it is to be a good host. Not everyone would relish welcoming 35 strangers for dinner at their home. Some hosts are good through practice and some are naturals – Simon and Uyen fall into the latter category. From the pre-dinner email which mentioned local pubs we could try, to the welcome when we walked in, I felt part of an adventure. Uyen knew my name and about the blog, Mia offered us a drink and we were shown outside and introduced to a couple of the guests. This warmth continued all evening – shown in the food, in the way they looked after everyone – and when the meal finished they sat with the guests who lingered to chat (until 2am ish, hic, oops).
I’ve got to be honest – this experience will not be for everyone – certainly not for those who would prefer to eat privately than share a table with strangers. So I suppose that explains the people there – a great mix of nationalities; all friendly and sociable and fun; foodies and those interested to try new things. It produced a hedonistic, liberated atmosphere, the excitement heightened by the fact that we were in someone’s home trying a surprise menu. Everyone was loud and merry and happy by the end of the night.
The food itself was really incredible – right up there with the best restaurants I’ve eaten at in London, and – I overheard – the jewel in the capital’s supper club crown. We had 8 courses, much of the food an interesting mix of Uyen’s Vietnamese and Simon’s Spanish roots. Here is the menu:
1. Pea Soup with Ham
AMAZING – best I’ve ever tasted. Chunky fresh juicy peas with deep crisp bacon, leading my fellow diner (Tim Hayward food writer, who was recording a Radio 4 programme on London’s supper clubs and from whom I wrestled a copy of Fire & Knives) to proclaim that everything in life is made better with a bit of bacon. I quite agree.
2. Figs with Goats Cheese & Prosciutto
Great combination, perfect textures and tastes.
3. Tortilla & Tomate Picante with Courgette, Cucumber & Feta Salsa
This was delicious – one of my favourites. The tortilla was homely and lovely and the courgette, cucumber and feta salad was a revelation – summery, fresh, with a lovely texture.
4. Deep Fried Lotus With Carrot & Chicken Salad & Prawn Crackers
I must admit I was nattering so much at this point I didn’t concentrate much on this course. Never eaten lotus before though – wish I had known it was lotus beforehand so I had paid more attention!
5. Banh Cuon With Cured Ham & Pork Belly
The angle of this photo perhaps indicates the amount of wine Pippa and I had managed to consume by this point (we were dining from 8pm to midnight after all)! But this was wonderful and a lovely mix of the slurpy Vietnamese bahn cuon with crispy, tasty pork belly. Lots of licking lips and sighing with this dish.
6. Tuna Sashimi with Chips
My FAVOURITE dish of the meal (apart from the pud) – this was worth coming for alone. The sashimi was perfect, the chips delicious and salty and wasabi mayonnaise was bloody fantastic (as that bloke says in In Her Shoes: “Wasabi makes everything better“). A brilliantly leftfield take on English fish n’chips.
7. Beef Pho
I’m too full! No more! I didn’t manage to eat much of this sadly but it was yummily rich and salty. At this point, I sauntered out to the garden – I give credit to Mia and Uyen that they came to join and gossip with me, filled up my wine glass AND brought my pudding out for me to eat in the garden, thank you! Which brings me to…
8. Coconut Sorbet W/ Cointreau
I didn’t get a photo of this (being in the garden at the time) but it was a fantastic finish – deliciously coconutty and wonderfully sweet.
We finished up with Simon and Uyen coming to join us to share wine, chat, laughter, and, well more wine. Pip and I staggered out around 2am after dancing to jazz in the lounge and I’m still talking daily about what a wonderful night it was. Foodies, supper club virgins and anyone wanting a truly different gastro experience, I recommend you go. Just make sure you behave a little better than we did (see below).
If I haven’t persuaded you, check out these other reviews: