This past weekend supperclub collaborators The Clove Club and the Young Turks opened the first week of the month-long Restaurants in Residence dinner party in a disused and soon to be demolished office building in the heart of Canary Wharf. The Clove Club + Young Turks dinners sit 80 diners a night, for £45 for a 4-course dinner. A cash bar is on site.
Service went for the most part so smoothly that you'd be hardpressed to guess straight off that the week leading up to opening night involved a herculean effort in setting up a kitchen from scratch. Complete with chefs fidgeting in vans in the loading bay of equipment companies waiting for insurance offices to open because having the insurance documents in hand was the only way to take delivery of equipment (breathe!); other equipment getting routed to the wrong location; cajoling farmers to deliver (sometimes the wrong) produce to Canary Wharf, and hauling a car full of organic apple wood to BBQ the beef dish of the evening on a little grill on a little terrace.
Hilarious (to me anyway) heart stopping madness. All for the love of food and a good time. And you wonder why I regularly try to drag my best foodie friends to these dinners. Well not that they need much dragging, which is why I love them!
After drinks on the terrace, a few bonus pre-starter starters:
Very sweet sugar snap peas, straight from the pod.
Cucumber spears with "Indian salt". I'm going to guess... salt, sugar, tumeric powder and crushed mustard seeds. Hopefully one of the chefs will correct me if needed! Such a subtle look, such a big revelation in taste.
Buttermilk fried chicken nuggets. Seriously, they could sell this spear by spear on street corners like vials of premium cocaine.
The first official starter: Tomatoes, goat's milk and wild marjoram. Incredibly pretty, and full of flavour unlike the anaemic, mealy varieties usually found in supermarkets. Hurrah for tomato season!
Lemon sole, wild fennel and elderflower, and mushrooms. Very simple and solid flavours, but hats off to doing 60 portions of fish in one evening in a makeshift kitchen!
Angus rib, grilled onions and land cress, with a celeriac and Kernel Brewery porter sauce. Gorgeous, especially with the very apparent smokiness of apple wood. Soooooooo goooooooood that fellow diner "Hollow Legs / The Incinerator" Jas later went to the kitchen the end of the evening and smiled her sweet sweet smile to try her luck and see if there were any leftovers!
Apparently the guest chef in charge of the beef dish was Dave Pynt, an alum of that Basque nirvana of fire and smoke that is Extebarri. I wonder what magic he would spin if given one of those supermarket disposable BBQs... Bet he could teach my Singapore supperclub running mate Goz a few tricks...
A brief interlude before dessert. We head back out onto the terrace for some photos in and of the sunset. Here are my beeyoootiful girlies!
I see the lads made a few calls to sort out the weather as well. Good work.
The dessert of loganberries, ewe's milk yoghurt and beremeal cake didn't evoke much of a reaction when read on the menu. Probably cos I'd never tasted any of the individual ingredients before.
But tasting it blew my head off. The loganberries from Kent had that fabulous but not sickly sweetness that can only come from the platonic ideal of what fruits at their prime taste like. The yoghurt was lovely and creamy but without that sometimes overpowering goaty smell of goat's milk. And the beremeal cake -- a ancient grain produced commercially only in the Scottish islands of Orkney where Chef Isaac McHale grew up -- provided great body to the dish.
What a stunner.
When saying hi to the team in the kitchen afterwards, and spying trays upon trays of the loganberries about, it took all my affection for them and even more willpower to not quickly organise a stickup and make off like a loganberry loony.
A last little dessert with coffee and tea: Sunflower praline ice-cream sandwiches in a (if I heard correctly) beremeal brioche. No photo unfortunately, as they were melting too fast due to a failed freezer! They looked like slider-size burgers, but sweet instead of savoury. Cute.
In summary, the food was at first glance simple and solid, but saw stellar execution with great spikes of extraordinary flavour due to great produce used. The service from The Clove Club gents was warm and personable as always. To nitpick, the team could've pushed the envelope a touch given the Canary Wharf location, with more creative names for the dining tables. Legal? The Boardroom? IT? Procurement? C'mon you guys, a bit "MEH", without any of the Ricky Gervais so-truthfully-banal-and-painful-it's-funny-but-I-can't-breathe-cos-it-hurts redemption.
How about naming the tables after spectacular financial crashes? How much cooler would it be to sit at a table named "South Sea Bubble" or "Black Monday" or "Ninja Home Loans" or even "Lehman" or "Bear Stearns"?
Like I said, a nitpick. Outside of that, thanks as always to the Young Turks and The Clove Club for a fabulous evening out.
The Clove Club + Young Turks dinner continues to run at Canary Wharf through all this week till 3 July. If interested, book your tickets here.
Click on the logo below to keep track of Young Turks' upcoming events.
Disclosure: I'm the founder of Edible Experiences. Unless otherwise mentioned, I attend events as a paying guest.