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Wednesday, 20 January 2010

London Underground Restaurants #8 - Saltoun Supper Club


Saltoun Supper Club

I had nearly given up hope of ever going to the Saltoun Supper Club (SSC) when I unexpectedly heard from them at the beginning of last week. After numerous e-mails, I was very pleased to have finally secured a table, and so Dr G and I drove with much anticipation to the elegant and rather quirky flat of Arno Maasdorp in Brixton.





One of the things that first struck me about SSC was the intimate setting created in Arno’s living room with its bare brick and the open plan kitchen. From the choice of glasses and cutlery to the careful use of indirect light, the room expressed an understated elegance and refinement of taste.



 

The artwork was intriguing; I loved his wall installation made up of many different miniature items, as well as the beautiful antique pieces like the South American baskets dotted around the room.



 

I had the feeling of entering a private gallery; wherever I looked there was something intriguing to catch the eye. There were 10 diners in the room (Arno can sit up to 16); an interesting mix of people of different ages and backgrounds.



Smoked sea-salt had been sprinkled over the butter and it went very well with the excellent sourdough bread purchased that morning from Franco Manca.





We were soon served our first course, a “Winter Vegetable Salad with Mandarin Oil”. I was very impressed by this dish and the complexity of flavours that Arno managed to create out of broccoli, beetroot and cauliflower. To make a delicious dish out of such humble ingredients is the sign of a talented palate.



The vegetables were perfectly al dente, but the secret was definitely in the sauce – a sweet and sour and highly aromatic dressing made of mandarin and chervil. It complemented the vegetables perfectly and started the evening on a very good note.



Our next course was “Leek and Pecorino Gnocchi”. This was also good and very well executed – the gnocchi had been cooked and then flash-fried with the potato and leek sauce. I could also taste truffle oil, and the addition of generous shavings of pecorino cheese made for a very delicious dish.



We had a short break between the first two courses and the main, so we all decided to take a tour of Arno’s amazing flat and examine the quirky art pieces more closely. I soon got chatting to fellow guests which for me is one the nicest aspects of dining at supper clubs.



 

We were soon called back into the living room as our main dish was being served - “Roasted Duck Breast” accompanied by a medley of root vegetables, mushrooms, spinach and fresh green olives.



This was nothing short of sensational – the meat had been perfectly cooked, the duck skin was crisp and delicious, and the vegetables were faultless. I was struck by the effect of the fresh green olives – a slight salty tartness that provided a nice balance against the rich and fatty meat.



For dessert, Arno served what he described as a “Pear and Bramley Apple Fine Tart”. This was an intriguing and fun dish, and had very interesting flavours at play – it was served with a quenelle of vanilla cream, very fine homemade tuiles biscuits, and sea-salted caramel. I loved this dish and despite being very full, I wish I could have had seconds!



 

“Petit Fours” and coffee/mint tea were served – these were delightful and I think a very nice touch to end a perfect meal.



I was impressed by Arno’s attention to detail in everything that he did – from the chic and quirky decor to the high standard of the food and the time and trouble he took to engage in conversation with each diner.





Verdict – Excellent food to match some of the top restaurants in London in intimate and quirky surroundings, and at a very reasonable price. Arno was an excellent host and I would certainly like to return.Highly recommended.

11 comments:

  1. How comes that I've been reading foodblogs forever and never noticed this one before? It is SO nice and useful!
    I'm adding it to my favourites ;)

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  2. We were here in December and I thought the food was absolutely fantastic - I enjoyed every mouthful! The atmosphere was too just very special and enjoyed being there immensely. Can not wait to go back! Our review coming as well. Uyen x

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  3. Don't know why I hadn't read this before - great review, I've read a couple but never seen all the artwork before! dinner sounds just incredible, I'm going in February, can't wait!

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  4. Really want to go: to peek about the place as much as to enjoy the food!

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  5. Oh wow this looks brilliant - and I love the decor as well - brave to have a supper club in a house with an open plan kitchen. On the strength of this review I think I might try to book in!

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  6. Gosh, what a great place this looks! I'll be joining the queue to get one of the coveted tables. Thanks for the atmospheric pics.
    Mr Truffle.

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  7. @ Jasmine - thank you very much, I am glad you have now found me, I hope you will enjoy my ramblings here...

    @ Uyen - Hi there, I also loved the food, I thought it was fantastic. I look forward to reading your review.

    @ Sasha - lovely hearing from you, I got your tweet about Feb, I am sure you will love it too. He's got an amazing flat, and it is I believe in your neck of the woods!

    @ Gail - it was so nice meeting you and Simon yesterday at the Talisker do, thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you again soon.

    @ Gourmet Chick - I know what you mean, our new home in Islington is kind of open plan because the dining area overlooks the kitchen. It was a challenge to adapt at cooking in front of people at DPs and stuff but I am slowly getting used to it. I never thought that would have been possible a year ago. I am such a messy cook! I highly recommend SSC, pls don't give up on them, Arno is not great at getting back to people.

    @ Mr Truffles - I do hope you will get a table at this superb Supper Club, and don't get disheartened if may take you a little while as i assure it is well worth the wait!

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  8. Luiz - great pictures. I was running so late I didn't manage to grab my camera which was a shame both because the food was amazing and also because of his fascinating flat.

    I now have now been to two "supper clubs" which I would pick above restaurants... the trawl has been worth it!

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  9. Hi Tom, thanks, I saw it on Twitter that you were running late but was glad that you made it. Arno's cooking is brilliant, homely but sophisticated.

    Feel free to use any of the images from my post in case you would like to review it in your blog.

    Indeed F&L, and SSC are my two favourites. You should also try The Loft if you can, it is also fantastic but 4 times the price.

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  10. Loving your reviews of the supperclubs and underground restaurants!

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  11. Hi Jill, thanks for stopping by! I see you are a fellow foodie blogger and supperclub host! I love the look and sound of Cucina Cinzia. I will e-mail you directly to find out more.

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