Saturday 1 August 2009

Savoy Truffle Supper Club

The phenomenon of supper clubs is continuing to thrive in London. Ms Marmite Lover's place has been doing extremely well, as I found out when I went to volunteer. 42 people in one night was the most she'd ever had and it was an eye-opening experience helping backstage, and it really made me appreciate how much work goes into accomodating and feeding this many guests.

Other supper clubs, like The Saltoun Supper Club in Brixton are all booked up and reservations can be made only a month in advance of the date. It seems Londoners are keen on this kind of set-up and, having now been to two of them, I can see why. The thrill of dining in someone's living room and meeting new people is something a conventional restaurant can't deliver.

I was quite excited when I heard about the Savoy Truffle Club. I spend a lot of my weekends usually negotiating London's (crap) transport system to head north of the river where most of my friends live and go out and it was great to hear it is held in South East London. Where I live. Three miles away, in fact. Hurrah! So, on a balmy summer's evening we headed to Blackheath armed with a bottle of wine each.

On arriving, we were greeted warmly by our host for the evening, Ali. We took our bellinis on the terrace to drink, and meanwhile met the rest of the diners, a combination of foodies and friends of the hosts. The terrace overlooked an immaculately manicured lawn; I was impressed and a bit envious with the huge pots of parsley, sage and other herbs they had growing there. Parsley has always refused to co-operate with me.

We had a table of four decorated with some lovely flowers and happily a big bucket of ice to chill the wine we'd bought. A friend stuck an amusing home-made label on her bottle; the wine was of course, massively expensive. "Melons on the nose, blah blah blah".

The room was large, with maybe eight or nine tables. Upsettingly, a table of four didn't show up but nevertheless, the atmosphere in the room was alight with animated conversation. A piano in the corner winked sugestively at us; one of our party is rather a dab hand at piano playing.

To start, we had some delicious bread rolls with butter from Rhodes Bakery, in Greenwich. All the food served at the supper club is locally sourced. The vegetables are grown either at an allotment or bought from a far seven miles away. Next, we were served cute little coffee cups of roasted red pepper soup with harissa creme fraiche, prettily decorated with micro basil leaves. This took me by surprise. There was an incredible depth of flavour to the soup, and the crème fraîche looked innocent enough but packed a spicy punch. We scooped all the dregs of our cups hungrily.

Next up, we had smashed broad beans with mozarella on sourdough toast. This was a generous portion - I don't envy much the poor soul who had to pod them and then shell them of the grey-green skin that surrounds each bean. This was delicious and really fresh-tasting. The mozarella was creamy and stood up to the broad bean smash well. I woke up the next day wanting it for breakfast.

Next up, we had pork belly with rumble de thumps. I had no idea what rumble de thumps would be; it sounded South African to me, but apparently it's a Scottish preparation of mashed potato with cabbage. The accompanying sticky and sweet Madeira and star anise jus was perfect with the pork. It was lightly spiced and something I'd definitely going to try and recreate. It looks like a small portion, but it was really rich and hit the spot perfectly.

A palate cleanser of elderflower sorbet was perhaps a touch over-sweet for my liking, but it did it's job. The floral overtones cleansed the palate nicely to anticipate the dessert.

I've always thought Eton Mess was a bit of a cop-out dessert. Given its name, it gives the cook free reign to just dump a load of fruit and bits of meringue on the dish. Not so at the Savoy Truffle Supper Club. Beautiful plates of intricately towered cream, meringue and Kentish summer fruits with a coulis appeared before us. I was daunted by its size. The fruits were perfectly ripe, sweet and fragrant. It defeated me, but all was not lost as a companion finished it off.

Our evening ended with some slightly tipsy piano playing, rather too much singing along to be decent, and a cafetière of Monmouth coffee. The chef came out from the kitchen and had a chat with everyone; he looked surprisingly unruffled, less sweaty than was possible given the number of diners, and answered all our questions enthusiastically. After my volunteering experience, I have learned that I would not be in a similar condition. We headed off into the night having felt well looked after, well nourished, and well drunk.


Kavey said...

Having had a wonderful evening at The Underground Restaurant I'd like to try some more. This sounds lovely.

Martin said...

That soup was a real surprise for me - I wasn't expecting the punch from the creme fraiche, very pleasing.

The pork belly...gorgeous...the crackling too, so tasty.

A splendid evening, professionally done, and a surprisingly calm and collected chef as well.

The hospitality of strangers is always enjoyable, even more so when accompanied by such tasty dishes!

Anonymous said...

mmm, harissa

Anonymous said...

What a great post, sounds like a fantastic experience. Must add to the hit list!

Andrew said...

these sound great. you have certainly captured the feel of this one; sounds a lovely meal.

Helen Yuet Ling Pang said...

Rumble de thumps, for real? What a cool name. Will have to ask Scottish relatives about it. I'll have to start visiting some of these underground restaurants. There seems to be about one new one a week at the moment...

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Wowwweee - that's a LOT of food... I think the Eton Mess, on top of all that had gone before, would have defeated me, too. Great post.

Anonymous said...

What an incredibly interesting and wonderful idea. I had no idea.

Thanks for enlightening post.

Passport Foodie

Helen said...

Ooof, what a meal that was! I was STUFFED afterwards. A very boozy and very entertaining evening!

Browners said...

Looks great fun. Love the "massively expensive" wine... and the rumble de thumps. It must have taken an enormous amount of effort to cook such an interesting and wide ranging menu.

Dan said...

Excelllent review Lizzie- just been looking at their website. I'm going to give this a go for sure.

Dan Coward said...

Wow - what an amazing menu for that sort of set-up. Real attention to detail. Booked into Saltoun in September, but must check out the STSC too.