Secret Supper Club – FernandeznLeluu
The idea of inviting 30 or so strangers to your house for dinner might seem a bit strange but it’s a phenomena that has been occurring here in London recently. Supper clubs. Or more precisely secret supper clubs have proliferated in the past few years but I had yet to visit one. That was until I got a DM (direct message) on Twitter the other day inviting me to a supper hosted by Fernandez and Leluu.
Supper club. Whenever I hear those words, my minds eye instantly conjures up those original Lounge Lizards-Dino, Sammy, & Frankie, red velvet and martinis. There was no red velvet in sight but this was still more than just a regular supper club event, it was an event hosted by none other then Jim Haynes, the original supper club guy. Jim has been hosting weekly Sunday nite dinners at his flat in Paris for over the last 30 years. What started out as a friend wanting to cook has blossomed into a regular event attracting 60 – 100 people per week. You might have even seen the After 8 chocolate mint commercial featuring Jim and his weekly gatherings, click here to view.
I was invited to partake of Fernandez n Leluu ‘s supper club. By day, Simon Fernandez is a software designer and Uyen Luu owns a boutique in Soho but both are avid foodies and once you get them into the kitchen, there’s no stopping them. They’ve been running their supper club for over a year now and have a long waiting list. After swearing I wouldn’t tell anyone where the exact location was, I was given the address, only to become hopelessly lost somewhere in East London. Thank god for the local minicab who gave me a quick lift or I would have never found it. When they mean secret, they’re not kidding!
Greeted by one of the Qype chicks, they were sponsoring the event along with After 8, I quickly found my way to the bar. Unlike most supper clubs, this one was not only BYOB but they had also thoughtfully supplied a cocktail bar and bartender for us. I have to say the Rose Club cocktail made with plenty of Tanqueray gin was yummy but deadly!
We were left to our own devices while Simon and Uyen finished off preparing the meal. Drinking, chatting, more drinking, until finally the first course came out. Since there were so many of us at this event, it was more of a standing and eating type arrangement but we were none the worse and as a matter of fact it made it a bit more fun since you could mingle and eat at the same time. The starter was as follows:
- 2 Spring Rolls (Prawns & Pork With Black Mushrooms & Carrots – Deep Fried Rolls)
- Summer Rolls (Shredded Pork Skin, BBQ Pork, Pork Belly, Coriander, Mint in fresh rice paper rolls)
- Terrine On Toastie Bread
- Prawn Cocktail (Large Tiger Prawns In Garlic & White Wine with Smoked Salmon Mayo/ or Green Herb Wasabi Mayo)
- Carrot & Coriander Chicken Salad
After that more milling about and much imbibing of the Rose cocktails, the main course of Beef Carpaccio with mashed potatoes in their skins came out. By now, I thought it was time for some wine and there was a whole table full of bottles. Somebody produced a Frogs Leap 2007 Petite Sirah and we were off! The petite syrah was a perfect match to the beef. Spicy and earthy on the nose, the palate was intense tobacco and blackberries, very round, supple tannins and a long finish. Many people confuse petite sirah with syrah but they are too entirely different grape varietals. The petite sirah is from France but is known as Durif and grows in the south. Anyway you look at it, it was a most enjoyable tipple.
We finished off with a berry dessert but I was having too much of a good time chitchatting to really give the food its “just desserts” so to speak. From what I can recall it was very tasty and the berries sweet and ripe. Of course we finished off with boxes of After 8 mints and as I toddled off into the night, I couldn’t help but think what fun it was to sup with a bunch of strangers.
A big thanks to Qype, After 8, Fernandez and Leluu and of course, Jim Haynes for making it truly a night to remember. Jim has got an autobiography “Thanks for coming” worth having a look through and he’s also just published a cookbook of his Sunday dinner recipes, “Throw a great party”. And if you’re feeling adventurous this weekend, check out a supper club, although FernandeznLeluu are booked up til mid May, it’s worth the wait. However, if you can’t wait until then, a quick online search will throw up a plethora of other secret supper clubs. In the words of the immortal Auntie Mame, “Enjoy, my boy! Life’s a banquet and most poor fools are starving!” Jim Haynes and FernandeznLeluu have certainly taken her advice to heart and so should you.