Eating out is such a pleasure. Food always is, is it not? Having anyone cook for you is the loveliest thing in the world. The time, the care and effort and then the indulgence. Restaurants are lovely, well, they are when they are good. But sometimes they are just too formal. That is why I have come to love and spend more time at Supper Clubs.
Supper Clubs have really come into their own this year. I have not been to anywhere near all that London is offering, but I have been to a few that would contest any good restaurant. Ben Greeno, who I visited earlier this year, delivers clever and deceptively spartan cuisine. Stolen recreates restaurant menus and do it very, very well. There are others too, which I shall blog about soon. The bottom line is, when they are good, they are very good.
It’s not all about the food, the charming thing about these Supper Clubs is the ambience, fun and randomness you’re sure to get at every one. Better again, the BYO wine policies (with no corkage) which allow me to enjoy better wines than I could otherwise afford with my meal. They are that bit more relaxed too, and I love them for that.
Dan & Ellie run Montpelier Basement from their lovely basement flat in Bristol. Dan is the blogger behind Essex Eating (although he now lives in Bristol) and Ellie runs Bristol based Pear Cafe. A mini break from London to check it out, seemed like a fine idea. In its first month it scored a mention from Xanthe Clay in the Telegraph, and subsequently from Fiona Beckett. I was sure it wouldn’t disappoint.
The room is small, cosy and lovely. Welcomed by the hosts and gifted a glass of sherry with Old Dendike, Thyme and Walnut Gougeres. We were off to a promising start.
There were two veggies visiting that night, both with me. Dan & Ellie had gone to an impressive effort to cater for them with two homemade stocks for the soup entree, one veggie and one meat, a fantastic (and delicious!) effort from a domestic kitchen. I think most would have delivered veggie for all. A flavour packed cup of Jerusalem Artichoke soup arrived. Intense and small, a perfect kick start for our palettes, we all wanted more.
Another course to go before the main, Baked Cornish Diver Caught Scallops with Tarragon Crumb were tender, sharp and utterly more-ish. Again, a taste, just enough to whet the appetite and wait impatiently for the next course. The veggies had blewitt mushrooms with tarragon and cream on toast.
Main courses were Pork Cheeks in Bennett’s Somerset Cider or Sage Crusted Capricorn Goat’s Cheese with spiced apple chutney each served with sage, mustard and apple mash and buttered Somerset leeks. No contest here, pork cheeks all the way. They were gloriously tender and rich, the apple & mustard mash providing a lovely lift. I still had room for dessert two. Which is lucky, as there were two.
Treacle Tart with Clotted Cream Ice Cream Came first, and then a gorgeous Pumpkin Pie, baked especially for Adin, visiting from Brooklyn and in the country for a short time, she had bussed it all the way down from London.
We finished with a mini quirky cheese course, an umami packed Montgomery’s Cheddar and Bristol Milk Stout Rarebit.
The whole evening was delicious and wonderfully entertaining. Dan and Ellie are wonderful hosts, superb cooks, and know how to throw a party. The suggested donation is £25 – a bargain, I am sure you will agree.
The Montpelier Basement is booked up until the end of the year, but they will soon be releasing dates for next year. Do sign up and check it out.