This week’s blog is totally off-topic, so be warned, okay! I’ve been to an underground restaurant (AKA supperclub, AKA restaurant in your livingroom, AKA Come Dine With Me - but on a larger scale) before, but last weekend I did two back to back, and they were so good that I thought I’d blog about them!
So my weekend started early on Friday night at Lara Newman’s restaurant: Sheen Suppers which is, unsurprisingly, in Sheen! For those of you who read my blog with any regularity, you will know that Lara is the first person I met on Twitter who I met in real life, so I’ve been to Sheen Suppers a couple of times before, and it is always good and always great value for money!
Supperclubs all work differently and, as I am learning, are all totally unique! Sheen Suppers is more like a traditional restaurant – you book a table for your party of however many and sit with your friends. There’s a suggested donation of £25 per person which gets you four courses (five if you count the tea and coffee) of divine food, a glass of excellent, paired wine (and from the massive EuroCave in the living room you know they know wine!) with each course (or port for the cheese course) and a fantastic atmosphere.
Lara’s house is the kind of place you could spend all day in and still not see everything. The attention to detail is just phenomenal – from the books in the fireplace to the decoupage in the bathroom, to the pink knitted animals in the (pink) kitchen. It’s delightful! The dining room seats up to around 18, and we were a full house. It was cosy without being cramped.
As I say, this was my third meal at Sheen Suppers and I’ve yet to be served something I didn’t like. The menu was as follows and was 100% home-made, from the gnocci to the crostini:
Pinenut Crostini with Prawns, Mozzarella and Basil
Gnocci with Shin of Beef Ragu, Courgette and Parmesan Salad
Grand Rustique Brie, Denhay Vintage Cheddar, Cropwell Bishop Stilton
Ginger Blondie with Ginger Mascarpone Cream, White Chocolate and Ginger Truffle
The starter was a safe bet for me – I lurrrve prawns! But for those who prefer to avoid seafood there was something similar with some rather nice looking ham instead. Likewise, the main course was fantastic and the homemade gnocci were particularly light and delicious. I also loved the courgette and parmesan salad as it ticked the garlic box big time! Mmmm! Cheese is never my favourite course (I swap out anything blue with anyone who will trade with me!) but the port somehow makes it nicer… In fact, I really don’t know why I don’t drink more port?!
But the Ginger Blondie… Ohhh the Ginger Blondie! That has got to be the single nicest dessert I have ever eaten in the world ever! I’ve never heard such a noisy table fall so silent so quickly! Now it’s not for those shy of sugar, I’ll concede, but ohhh it was so good! Lara has been kind enough to post the recipe and I cannot wait to try and make it for myself!
Things start to wind down from about 10.30pm onwards (it starts at 7.30pm) but inevetably there’s a few stragglers and those who stay for a chit-chat afterwards! Such a great night!
And so, from one great night to another! After a late night of singing and one too many glasses of Prince’s Ginger Liqueur I was, err, a little delicate on the Saturday, but undeterred all the same…
Supperclub number two was Lex Eat, which is run by the lovely Alexis! So forget all the pre-conceived ideas I may have given you from Sheen Suppers – apart from the divine food, Lex Eat is nothing like it! For a start, you book your number but the dining is communal – so we were a two on a shared table of eight. You’re not split up from your friends / other halves or anything hideous like that, but you can expect to make polite conversation with your neighbours! The suggested donation here is £20 for an array of courses which I’ll talk about more shortly. It’s BYO booze but in actuality there was some booze included, which was a lovely surprise.
Alexis’s house is equally divine as Lara’s but in a totally different way. Imagine a clean, modern, minimalistic apartment with an amazing mezzanine floor, a vintage record player, and reviews and thank you letters pegged around the downstairs bathroom. It’s like something out of a magazine – really beautiful!
I have to say; I was wary of the communal dining concept, even though it’s quite popular at underground restaurants. It still wouldn’t be my first choice, but it was very cleverly done. On arrival we were introduced to other people on our table and encouraged to mingle. Then, at the table itself, the tablecloth (which was actually brown paper – very clever!) had notes all over it explaining the menu… But naturally you couldn’t see the whole table so you had to talk and share what was on and around your place setting. A really excellent way to get everyone talking!
So onto the food! Again, everything was home cooked…
A glass of bubbly moscato
Hot & spicy popcorn
Mushroom risotto with thinly shaved pear & amaretti biscuit crumbs
Slow cooked pork belly with salsa verde, roasted butternut squash, bean salad + freshly baked foccacia
Little spoon of coconut milk & lemongrass sorbet
Almond tart with poached figs + orange & cardamom ice cream with a sprinkling of almond praline
(Plus the usual tea and coffee shenanigans, of course!)
Yet again there was nothing I didn’t like. The spicy popcorn was the find of the night for me – Lex kindly emailed me the recipe afterwards and I’ve made it twice since. Sooo good! Contrary to my initial expectation, the amaretti buscuits and pear worked really well with the mushroom risotto (I’m a bit of a mushroom risotto purist) and it was a great start to the meal. The pork for the course was also divine, though I have to say that I don’t think we really needed the foccacia – I did try some (and it was lush) but there was really plenty of food without it and I wasn’t totally sure it went with everything else. The sorbet palate cleanser was a fantastic idea – it was served on little spoons and was a really nice addition to the meal – very impressive! Dessert was another sugar-fest. The Almond Tart (served on very cool tiles!) was absolutely delicious and the ice cream cut into it really well.
Sadly, we had to leave a bit early (10pm – again, it started at 7.30pm) from Lex Eat because I had a train to catch, but I imagine the merriment continued for a good while after our departure!
So two fantastic nights all in all! Though both underground restaurants worked on the same principles you can’t even compare the two – they are such different experiences! And it’s really spurred me on to try and find some more. It was interesting to speak to the other guests at Lex Eat who had been to other places and had good and bad experiences. I guess we have chosen well so far!
If you want to find out more about supperclubs hen there is a Ning Network you can check out. I highly recommend everyone go to one – you will not get such good food at such great prices anywhere else, and it’s such a fun night!