It's 7pm on a Saturday as our train doors slide open. A couple are propping up their rather crumply, either very ill, or very drunk, lady friend between them.
Welcome to Essex.
I'd been following both Danny Kingston's very humourous Food Urchin blog (I particularly love the posts about his grandmother) as well as London's mushrooming supperclub scene from afar during our 15 months of backpacking. Now that I'm back in London, I have a long list of London foodies and supperclubs I'd love to meet, try, and get properly acquainted with. I figured my first proper supperclub foray in the UK might as well be with the guy who was game enough to randomly meet me for lunch near work one day, and generous enough to show me his falafel haunt at Whitecross market -- the best falafel I've had in a while.
And so on this lovely spring evening, Babs, our startup partner Evie and I find ourself in the good hands of the Food Urchins -- Danny the chef, and his two lovely helpers, wife Hollie and sister Tori. Here's Mrs Food Urchin slicing up some ludicruously pro looking homemade bread.
They cleared out their front room to seat a table of 6 and a table of 3. The kitchen's in the back, which has another alcove that sits another table of 7 (I think). We got the table of 3, which was less social that I had hoped for, but it's our own silly fault for getting lost and showing up late. Next time I'll specifically request to be seated at a "meet some stranger foodies" table though. The lovely Kavey of Kavey Eats was in da house, however, and it was nice to chat with her again and eavesdrop on some of her funny stories (sorry Kavey but I'd already been in deep business discussions with Babs and Evie all afternoon and we were all hungry for a diversion!)
Another shot of the lovely bread before we get into the food proper.
Starters: Grilled mackeral with spring onions, potato, shreds of wild garlic and a very nutty calcot sauce. I love mackeral, so this was an easy sell for me. The calcot sauce in particular I thought was sophisticated enough to rival a good restaurant's offer.
Mains: A citrus chicken stew that embodied spring, with its light lemony taste and gorgeously sweet and fresh peas and broadbeans and herbs. We had mixed reactions to this one. Babs was a fan. Evie I think felt it wasn't yet spring (i.e. warm) enough for her to really get into this spring dish. I really liked the taste of the stew but for whatever reason pictured it sitting better as a sunshiny lunch dish especially if I was home sick and trying to perk myself up, rather than for a Saturday night dinner. Funny, that. I'm always happy to eat dinner leftovers for breakfast -- sometimes to Bab's odd looks -- but I have a harder time eating breakfast or what I consider to be lunch fare later in the day.
(Note: All the photos in the rest of this post were taken by Babs)
Palette cleanser: Blood orange and rosemary jelly. Very clah-ssy. Very very yum.
Dessert: A choice of rhubarb and stem ginger crumble, or double chocolate cheesecake. OBVIOUSLY we were going to go for both (thanks Dan for indulging!). The rhubarb -- stems kept intact rather than blended -- had a good tart bite. But what really stole the show for me was the double chocolate cheesecake. Rich, not too sweet, and a hint of savoury in the base. HOO-WAH!
Kind Mr Kingston offered to drive us back to the train station for our return to London town, but we insisted on walking -- mostly because the very generous portions meant that we really needed a 15 minute waddle in the fresh air and moonlight to make sure that the meal settled evenly into the crevices of our guts.
I hope this supperclub continues. And that supperclubs at large continue. Well executed food at reasonable prices is one thing. What really leaves you giddy and giggly at the end of the night is the sense of community. After dinner Kavey sold a few posh chocolate easter eggs to raise funds for Japan quake victims, and I swapped a jar of homemade rhubarb sambal (recipe to come) for a clump of Dan's wild garlic, pulled from his garden, bulbs, roots, soil, a few earthworms et al. Edible "sand" and "soil" by the likes of Fat Duck and Noma respectively might be considered better than the real thing, but hey, sometimes there's something to be said for the real thing.
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Disclosure: I'm the founder of Edible Experiences. Unless otherwise stated, I attend events as a paying guest.