Supper clubs are taking over London. I thought it was a relatively new concept, but apparently they’ve been going on for years! These range from amateur cooks looking to improve their cooking skills in a social environment, to seasoned professionals, who relish the freedom of creating a unique menu for their guests. I visited my first supper club a few weeks ago on the London tube, which was a very unique experience (check it out here). Most recently, I was invited by LovePopUpsLondon to attend Fabulous 698b – a seasonal British supper club situated on Holloway Road, North London. I took along my friend Rich, for his first supper club experience, and together, we headed out for a night of exceptional food and interesting company.
WHAT IS A SUPPER CLUB?
Personally, I’d describe a supper club as a live version of the BBC show ‘Come Dine with Me’. You literally turn up at a stranger’s house, who proceeds to cook for you, as you sit at the table and dine with a bunch of other strangers. Sounds weird right?! But here is why you should do it:
You get to experience food you wouldn’t normally have in a restaurant. If you’re a fussy eater, this is a great opportunity to try new flavours and dishes, and broaden your tasting palate.
You get to meet new people. Being on a table with 10 strangers allows you to learn about other cultures, engage in different types of conversation, and learn about other people’s life stories.
You get to visit new places. Most supper clubs are held in people’s homes or in pop up restaurants that are often a lot more quirky and fun than your average restaurant.
SO, WHO ARE FABULOUS 698B?
Fabulous 698b is a seasonal pop up restaurant, close to the centre of London, set up in 2015 by experienced professional chefs Maja Pauling and Guillaume Jounot. They offer a delicious and innovative four-course menu, with a cocktail on arrival, and a few extra surprises throughout the evening.
Maja and Guillaume are married, which for me, gives the experience a more personable and authentic feel, and we both felt quite humbled to be welcomed into their beautiful home. Not only are they both incredibly talented chefs, but they are also complete couple goals! What other couple do you know who could both work and live together and not want to kill one another?! They began their supper club at their home where they can host up to 12 guests. Although they still host at home each week, they also have evolved to organising larger dining experiences in pop up restaurants throughout London. It is not surprising they continue to expand, and I cannot wait to visit their restaurant ‘Gilvic’ in the future, which they plan to open in a few years.
For me, the food at Fabulous 698b is a true gastronomic delight, and the presentation alone illustrates what creative masterminds Maja and Guillaume are. They pride themselves on using seasonal British products to reveal a combination of exquisite, yet un-expecting flavours, meaning their menu changes throughout the year, based on the vegetables and fruits that happen to be in season. It’s essential that you declare any food allergies ahead of time and we were amazed to hear we were the first group they’d hosted without any requirements in months!
Appetizer: Green apple and cheddar pastry nest, smoked mackerel and carrot rye bread thin
After savouring our welcome drink – a palate cleansing cocktail of gin, rose water and peach juice, we had our first sample of Maja and Guillaume’s diverse menu. The bite-size hors d’oeurvres were delicious, though a little tricky to eat by hand. The mackerel was excellent and the rye thin reminded Rich of that used in some Nordic gravlax.
Starter: Jerusalem artichoke, quails’ eggs, Cornish potato, sweet pickled shallots, watercress
The starter was amazing. It was light and simple, and was a great introduction to the meal ahead. Neither of us had tried Jerusalem artichoke and loved the flavour and texture of this with the runny yolk from the quails’ eggs.
Main: John Dory, wild garlic, celeriac, lemon dressing
This was probably my favourite dish, which says a lot coming from someone who isn’t a huge fan of fish. I was apprehensive about trying it but I’m so glad I did. The fish flaked off the fork; the wild garlic providing an added unique flavour, and the dressing complimented the natural juices very well. Rightly so, there were clean plates all round!
Main: Glazed Lancashire pulled pork, parsnip, apple, shallot, coco beans, cider reduction
This was another incredible dish. The pulled pork was cooked to perfection, keeping all the natural juices inside for a tender and succulent taste. The apple and shallot worked well together to create an interesting flavour, seasoning the meat in ways I haven’t experienced before. I thought the coco beans sounded like an odd addition, however it worked! We loved the little surprises throughout, including tiny cucamelons (cucumbers that look like watermelons) and a small, sweet root. These ‘wild card’ additions, recommended by their supplier, made for very interesting discussions with the chefs and other guests.
More than a Yorkshire rhubarb mille-feuillel
We need to talk about the dessert. I don’t want to give too much away, but the meal definitely ends with one signature, show-stopping finale! Maja and Guillaume put on a theatrical display as they make the dessert in front of your very eyes, creating what can only be described as an explosion of food art. From sauce flying down the table, sparklers dazzling at either end, to a runway of whipped cream, burnt caramel, popping candy, cheesecakes, banana cake, chocolate mousse, cascades of nuts and many more sweet sensations. The spread was decadent, with both classic and inspired combinations across the table. We loved the range of textures; crunchy nuts, smooth sauces, soft sorbets and crispy chocolate flakes.
I should also mention that it is “bring your own booze”, so feel free to bring along a bottle of wine or non-alcoholic accompaniment to your meal. Once everyone had finished their food, Maja and Guillaume joined us at the table, and we ended up staying for another 45 minutes engaging in conversation with our new friends. No longer strangers, the intimate setting and ‘fabulous’ experience had united us all, making it an unforgettable evening.
I would definitely recommend Fabulous 698b supper club. The food is exquisite, the chefs are super talented and friendly, and the homely, informal experience is something everyone should try!
For more info on pricing, and how to book, please see their website: FABULOUS 698B
I received complimentary tickets in exchange for a review. Views are my own.