Monday, 20 September 2010

Ben Greeno's Supperclub

Deep in the heart of Hackney, Ben Greeno cooks up a storm maybe twice or three times a week at his flat. We navigated the streets of East London, armed with wine. On entry, we were armed with a glass of deliciously fizzy cider and were directed towards a bowl of radishes, a roasted pepper sauce and basil emulsion to dip them in. Guests were confused and bemused by their leafy tops. I munched them up.

I first heard about Ben Greeno cooking at Nuno Mendes' Loft Project. Having had worked at Copenhagen's Noma, he has a great background but the £125 'membership fee' was too prohibitive. Much more wallet friendly was the £35 menu he was serving up.

As we stuffed delicious hunks of bread slathered with nasturtium flavoured butter, we met our fellow guests. Four Singaporeans sitting immediately next to us kept us entertained, and there were many guffaws throughout the night. The first course looked simple enough; carrots. But lurking underneath the carrots were sour cherries that had been steeped in dashi. They were intensely savoury, and I mopped up the umboshi sauce with the carrot. Looks can be deceiving.

Next was one of my favourite courses of the night. Raw slices of mackerel were dotted with a tart berry sauce - jostaberries, not one I've heard of before. Peppery watercress was scattered over the plate, and sweetness came from apples Ben had picked earlier today. A stand-out dish, a perfect balance of a sour, fruity foil to the mackerel's richness.

Slow-cooked egg burst seductively over the plate, saucing the next dish. Pork rillette, wrapped in Brik (a Moroccan, filo-style of pastry) was accompanied by pretty flowers and intensely sweet onions. I would buy a sous vide just to make that gooey, creamy egg.

Lamb belly was paired with roasted parsnips and parsnip puree. The fat! The silky, mouth-coating fat was absolutely incredible, the meat tender as anything.

Blobs of lemon curd, blackcurrants, sweetcorn and rose meringue was intruiging. Sweetcorn is used in some Chinese desserts, but not any I had tried. Their sweetness was key here. Slightly chewy, they provided excellent texture to the smooth curd and the juiciness of the blackcurrants. The rose flavour in the meringue was so very subtle, and I only noticed it when it was pointed out to me. Ginger crumbs finished the dish off nicely, rounding it together with warm spice.

Ben Greeno was an excellent host, sitting down with us to chat after the plates had been cleared away. To my astonishment, soon it was 1am and we were drunk as hell with no signs of our host waning. We even snacked on more pork rillette, bread and pickled walnuts; not that we were left wanting, but given the opportunity I wasn't about to say no - have I ever mentioned my love for all things pickled? It was a week night though and the work dread set in, so cabs were called and we were whisked off into the night, replete.

I suggest you can go while you can; talent and food like this should not be passed up on.

Booking details are on the website below:


gastrogeek said...

have heard nothing but good things about Ben Greeno - loving the sound of the sound cherry umeboshi and that lamb looks very melt in the mouth.

Jonathan said...

Sounds fun. It's got me gagging for a secret restaurant in Gothenburg. But alas, I haven't found one.

It seems the chef likes his food to served in long thing strips.

gary robinson said...

This guy is good, any idea how long he's planning on doing his thing in Hackney?

Clare said...

I'm going in a couple of weeks...this has got me excited!!

Chris said...

It's great to see Ben tweaking some dishes and swapping others entirely even a week or two after my visit. Sign of a confident, experimental chef.

An American in London said...

@gary - My friend has a booking for November, so it seems this superclub will be around for a while longer.

Oisin said...

Most impressive cooking, Salivating over the lamb belly. Great post Lizzie. Very much looking forward to visiting Ben's on Friday evening. Thinking hard about matching wines.

Joshua said...

If I ever get around to making a sous vide machine those low temp eggs are first on the list of things to cook.