Supper Club: Ben Greeno’s at Tudor Rd
I was very disappointed to miss Ben Greeno at The Loft Project. People were a buzz with it, but it was sold out. I watched from the sidelines as the pictures unfolded, read the blog posts and felt quite sorry for myself. Then I heard that he was back in London from Copenhagen and would be starting his own supper club very soon.
I didn’t hesitate booking. Ben is an increasingly renowned culinary talent, a rising star. He started out in the UK at 21 Queen Street in his native Newcastle, and then to Sat Bains and over the last 9 years has graced the kitchens of many a restaurant that I hope to visit – notably the current No 1 in the world, Noma, where he was recently joint head pastry chef and David Chang’s Momofuku.
I was a little disorganised and found myself anxiously seeking a decent wine shop way too near the time of the supper club. Stamford Hill, where I live, is a fairly dry spot, more akin to synagogues (it’s one of the three largest Hassidic Jewish areas in the world) than wine shops. Hackney, where the supper club resides, is on the up, but is sadly lacking good independent wine shops that are open after 6pm. Grim! I couldn’t go and eat nice food with a poor bottle of wine.
Twitter came to my rescue, and I was told of Bottle Apostle, a gorgeous and well stocked independent wine shop near Victoria Park. Committed and tenacious, I walked over a mile in my favourite red patent heels, and was delighted to discover it. Hackney-ites – take note, you should explore here.
With a lovely Alsatian Riesling from Bruno Sorg in hand and a decent bold Alentejo red from Portugal that I neglected to save the name of (touriga nacional & syrah blend – the wine improved the more it sat in the glass, I think we should have decanted it), we made our way to Ben’s abode. Ben greeted us with a chilled glass of prosecco and everyone settled in and started to chat.
It’s a small supper club, with only 10 seats. Everyone sits at one large table, and two chefs prepare and serve the food only a few feet away. Ben was assisted by Isaac of Elliot’s of Borough the night we attended.
After 45 minutes or so of very friendly mingling with prosecco and nibbles of raw carrots, courgettes, olives and zingy herb mayonnaise (it was much better than the description implies), we started.
The first dish was Mackerel, Umeboshi, Jostaberry and Horseradish. The mackerel had been salted and was perfectly fresh. The umeboshi and jostaberry brought the dish to life and distracted from that slight fishiness that mackerel always has, the horseradish was delicate and gentle and didn’t fight with the dish. The jostaberries were unusual and awoke a lovely taste memory, I have had these in my childhood and hadn’t had them for many years since. Nastutrium leaves added a lovely peppery note, and nasturtium flower butter graced the table.
Grilled Onions, Pork Crisps, Garlic Capers was a delight. Pork Fat crumble! Why have I only had this for the first time now? I am shamelessly going to recreate it at home, and it will frequent my table more often than is right I am sure. The onions were sweet and delicate with a lovely char, pretty cucumber flowers decorated (you already know how much I love edible flowers).
Slow Cooked Egg, Chicken Hearts and Wing, Bread Salad and Pickled Walnuts (picked and pickled in Bethnal Green) was superb. Eggs are so underrated, and I am sad that I didn’t take a photo of the egg once I pierced the yolk. Trust me when I say that it was gorgeous, you would almost want to swim in it. Chicken hearts were like meaty croutons. The flavours mingled and played with each other, it was divine.
Lamb, Cauliflower, Oat Groats was a slow cooked and very tender lamb belly (also called lamb breast), with a gorgeous bright yellow flower (I think a very young courgette flower – I forgot to ask). I struggle with oat groats sometimes, but that’s a personal preference, otherwise the dish was very nice if not my favourite.
Berries, Chamomile Meringue, Coffee, Fruit, Brioche was a spritely dessert. The calming chamomile in the crispy meingue, cosied up to the juicy strawberries, rose petals were pungent and fragrant and perfect with the rest. The coffee jelly gave some depth and smokey undertones. Now that is my kind of dessert.
Coffee from Square Mile was served in gorgeous jacketed glass flasks with chocolate truffles that had a toffee-esque consistency and flavour.
The chefs sat down and chatted with everyone once their service was complete. It was a lovely, intimate evening, with great food and charming hosting. All for a bargain price of £35.