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Saturday, 17 April 2010

London Supper Club - Friday Food Club

Friday Food Club

Sometimes I am asked – what is your favourite supper club?

I find this a difficult question as every supper club is unique, and this risks comparing apples and pears. There are, however, certain qualities which I hope to see in any underground restaurant – and for me, it is the combination of these which make some supper clubs preferable to others.

The food is obviously paramount. Having a BYO policy with no corkage is also within the spirit of this movement. Location/decor certainly plays a role, as well as the friendliness of the host(s). Most importantly, diners should be able to interact because this is what differentiates supper clubs from restaurants. This is a tricky one to get right - a good seating plan is crucial. Diners also need to find a supper club best suited to them – some supper clubs will offer poetry readings, quizzes or cross-dressing performers and consequently will attract different demographics.

If you read my supper club reviews over the year, you will probably guess I have one or two favourites. But now I have found another – the Friday Food Club. This gem of a supper club has ticked all the boxes for me:

The Location

Set in the Blackheath Arts Club, a most elegant, Blue-Plaqued building in the heart of the village and only 50 metres from the railway station, this amazing building was home to an arts club, a film studio, and a hotel before being converted into the most stunning set of apartments.

Lee and Fiona’s flat is spectacular. It has a spacious dining/living area, high ceilings and large Gothic windows which provide a very dramatic setting to their supper club.

It is also beautifully furnished, containing some interesting and tasteful art work, an exquisite 1960’s chandelier and restful, indirect lighting. Fresh flowers and white linen adorn each table, giving a refined sensibility to the room.

The Food

We started the evening with a complementary glass of “Cremant de Loire” sparkling wine, and Lee’s delicious “Tapenade and Jade Bakery Bread”. I was very impressed by this as Boulangerie Jade is one of the finest bakeries and patisseries in South London, and their goods are priced accordingly. Having lived in Dulwich for many years, I used to go there whenever I was in Blackheath.

As an amuse bouche, we were served “Asparagus puree with deep fried quail eggs” – these were lovely. The quail eggs had been coated in bread crumbs and deep fried, yet the yoke remained yieldingly tender, and the fresh asparagus puree appeared to be a witty allusion to mushy peas.

Next we had “Potato soup with spinach, scallops and chorizo”. The scallops were diver caught and purchased from Borough Market that morning. They went really well with the combination of chorizo and spinach in this delicate potato soup.

The main course was “Spiced rubbed fillet of pork, served with Romesco sauce, paprika cauliflower & salsa verde”. The meat, from Ginger Pig, was beautifully cooked and very flavoursome.

I adore Romesco sauce but normally make it to go with fish or seafood. I was surprised to find how the acidity from the sherry vinegar and sweetness of the red peppers were the perfect accompaniment to the rich and tender pork.

As a “surprise” course, we were served a selection of British cheeses, biscuits and grapes. The cheeses included Cropwell Bishop Stilton, Llawnroc Brie and Ashmore Farmhouse. A cheese course makes any meal feel like a real occasion and Lee certainly managed that - his choices were excellent and it was a most enjoyable way of finishing off my glass of 07 St Emilion.

The “Frozen berries served with hot white chocolate and white chocolate and cardamom mousse” was a beautifully presented and creative dessert and as good as any I have had at Michelin starred restaurants.

To round off a most delicious meal, diners were offered filtered coffee, fresh mint tea or Irish coffee. I went for an Irish coffee with a generous dose of Irish whisky - it was superb.

As the evening came to a close, Lee and Fiona gave us a homemade “breakfast pear and ginger muffin” to take home. It was a lovely touch and a nice reminder on Saturday morning of the evening’s event.

The People

Talking to Lee, I discovered that his grandfather was a cook with the British Navy and his father was also a chef. Unsurprisingly, Lee read Hospitality Management and is also a classically trained chef. His Irish partner, Fiona, does a great job as front-of-house at the supper club. They both have full-time jobs in the advertising industry.

The Friday Food Club started as a food blog in 2007 and developed into a supper club when in January 2010, Lee and Fiona decided to open their doors to the public.

Dr G and I were lucky to share our table with a delightful couple, John who is in IT and his fiancée Liz, a vet. We had many conversations about food, their impending wedding, and also about Orlando my ageing cat, and dogs Tofu and Truffle.

I was also pleased to see some familiar faces, like Jill Hodges of Cucina Cinzia and her husband Cedric.

The Drinks

Not only was there no corkage charge, but a complementary glass of “De Chanceny Cremant de Loire” was served on arrival. The Friday Food Club advises guests on the most suitable wines to match their weekly menus.

We took a bottle of Australian Viognier, and since many of us had no red wine for the pork, Lee kindly offered us all another complementary glass of 2007 Roc de Lussac, St Emilion (available in Sainsbury’s for £13.99), as well as a glass of “Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois” with dessert.

The beautiful carafes of still water, flavoured with lime and mint, were constantly replenished.

Other Stuff

The Friday Food Club is in the process of securing a date with Masterchef winner Dhruv Baker for June 2010, Mark Hix is taking over the kitchen in July for a charity event and Richard Corrigan will be putting his spin on the supper club in October 2010.

Cost: prices vary from around £26.50 to £38.50 depending on the weekly menu - ours was £32.50 per person.

Likes: Unfussy but sophisticated British food with the best ingredients available, generous, friendly hosts, elegant setting.

Dislikes: None.

Verdict: Lee Behan is putting good quality, sophisticated British food back on the menu. His cooking, attention to detail and generosity are inspiring. Clearly not motivated by profit, his supper club is a real gem and I cannot wait to return. Very highly recommended.


  1. Oh this one really does look a winner. I'd love to go!

  2. @ Kavey - this is indeed a winner, and I can't wait to go back. A bloggers' evening maybe?

    @ Greedy Diva - ditto, the food was great, and Lee and Fiona were the perfect hosts.

  3. There's real artistry on display here, both in the combinations and preparation - frozen berries, hot mousse, deep fried eggs - brilliant. Having read the review I'm really not surprised that people like Corrigan and Hix are coming in to guest for special events. There really are some great touches - a surprise course, complementary wine, the muffin. All these show a couple that are dedicated to providing the best experience possible.

  4. My wife and I are frequent visitors to the Friday Food club (they actually do events on other days too). Among many other underground restaurants that we had visited, they are my favourite. I do agree with the writer that they practised the spirit of "underground" restaurant to the letter - Great venue, Great food, Great hospitality. We are always warmly welcomed at their flat, the food is always exquisite, we always make new friends at their club. What else can u ask for? Well, actually there is one thing they can improve on - how about moving to West London so that I do not have to take the train across London after such a great meal?

  5. @ Grubworm - it is the combination of great food, people, location and amazing hospitality/generosity by Lee and Fiona which makes Friday Food Club a fantastic supper club and I can't recommend it enough.

    @ Martin - hey Martin, I am not surprised you are a loyal punter, Lee and Fiona are the perfect hosts. This is a real find of a supper club, and I am sad I never met you there! I hear from Jill that you have also been to Cucina Cinzia.

  6. It sounds great - another South East London supper club. Hooray!

  7. Hey Lizzie, I know, I love Blackheath and Friday Food Club is definitely an excellent foodie addition to the area. You look and sound great at the Observer's interview, well done.

  8. This is great value given there is no corkage the food looks amazing. Shooting straight to the top of my go to list I think. LF you really have been to the most supper clubs of anyone in London I think!

  9. I have to say this was my favorite supperclub so far! The flat is lovely, the food was fantastic and Lee and Fiona are delightful (as well as the other guests!). I loved the dessert wine as well, yum. Can't wait to go back to the Friday Food Club!

  10. A friend just alerted me to the above comments, and both Fiona and I are truly flattered by everyone's kind words. I suppose the big thing is that if we were going to do launch a supper club, then we always wanted to give it 110%. Like all of you, we love good food, great company and a relaxed environment to enjoy it all in... I suppose the other big motivator is that trying to find a restaurant that ticks all of these boxes is difficult or expensive, and at the cheaper end of the scale, I always wonder whether love and passion has gone into all aspects of the dining experience? When you spend 2 hours ironing table cloths and napkins, then you need to love what you are doing... Thanks everyone.

  11. Luiz this looks fantastic - I really want to check it out, lovely write up as always!

  12. Crumbs, I haven't had an irish coffee since the 70s! Fantastic pics, food looks wonderful. I'll be there as soon as I can! Mr Truffle

  13. @ Gourmet Chick - Hi Cara, I am thinking of organising a bloggers evening there sometime in summer, spoke to a few who are very interested in joining, let me know if you would like to come along to that.

    @ Jill - they are very good but Cucina Cinzia is also very special, and definitely one of my favourites too. Shall we all go back in summer together?

    @ Lee - thanks Lee, nice of you to comment here, can't wait to come back! Will contact you about a date in summer.

    @ Gastrogeek - Hi Rej, thanks darling, I can only wish one day to write as well as you!

    @ Mr Truffles - that Irish coffee was the most pefect ending to stupemdous meal. I cannot recommend the Friday Food Club highly enough.

  14. That pork looks fantastic and what a brilliant idea to give you muffins to take home, a really personal touch. I keep meaning to book a supperclub and I need it to be on a Friday when I do so this one has made it into my short list!

  15. Hey Sarah, this is one of the best supper clubs in London and I cannot think of a better way to start the weekend than a superb meal with friends!

  16. Right, this sounds fantastic - I'm definitely going to pay a visit!

    ps see, I read yours too xxx

    pps and I joined your Facebook fanpage :)

  17. Being a newbie to the underground restaurant scene it's great to read about them from an "old hand". Really makes me want to attend more, a bloggers nite might be a great idea! Let's do it soon!

  18. @ Meemalee - we are planning a bloggers' evening in June, I will get in touch about it shortly. It was lovely to see you at Kiasu on Tuesday and happy birthday today!

    @ Winesleuth - welcome Denise to my blog, nice of you to comment here! As I mentioned to you yesterday at Bob Bob Ricard, we are all going there in June, so watch this space!

  19. i'm up for a bob bob ricard evening

  20. Me too! I went there this week, it is such an amazing place, drop me a line if you fancy going there. Looking forward to hearing from you regarding our June evening.

  21. Hi Luiz, Lovely review of a wonderful supper club. I had a brilliant evening there last week with you - will be writing up soon. They were so professional, but relaxed and friendly.


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