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Monday, 22 August 2011

London Supper Club Review - ferdiesfoodlab

ferdiesfoodlab is the latest and among the most anticipated supper club launches in London recently, and I was fortunate to be there for their soft opening last weekend. 

A spin-off from the much loved, late lamented Fernandez & Leluu,  ferdiesfoodlab is the brainchild of Simon Fernandez, a British-Spaniard, a tremendously ambitious and accomplished cook and one of the pioneers of the Supper Club movement in London.

The Location

ferdiesfoodlab is set in Toynbee Hall, a Grade II listed Arts and Crafts building constructed over 125 years ago. The venue is rather grand and contains two large halls. The Lecture Hall, where ferdiesfoodlab takes place, is an elegant wood-panelled room, with parquet flooring, impressively large latticed windows, period art work and a grand piano.

Some may argue that the space might lack the intimacy or character of a host's living room, but I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the room and the sense of occasion that it imparted to the evening.

Toynbee Hall is situated on Commercial Road, close to the City and round the corner from Aldgate East Station. It is also close to Whitechapel Art Gallery and Brick Lane.

The Food

Having tried Simon's cooking many times before (reviewed here, here and here), I knew I was in for a treat. What I most enjoy about his cooking is his ambition and desire to experiment with different flavours and techniques. Simon is a bold and adventurous cook, and this is what, in my opinion, makes his food so exciting.

For this soft opening, Simon kicked off proceedings with a platter of Liquorice Cured Fillet Steak Cubes w/ Baby Peppers & Pimientos de Padron served with rosemary and garlic bread. The fillet was meltingly tender with a delicate hints of aniseed, beautifully accompanied by a homemade mayonnaise infused with Simon's tomato reduction. I didn't get to eat or see any Pimientos de Padron on the platter that was shared at our end of the table, but I guess it would have gone well with the other flavours in the dish.

To follow, we had Champagne Poached Pears served with cured ham on a bed of green leaves. This is one of Simon's most popular dishes, an interesting take on the classic Melon and Parma Ham, and one I have enjoyed at F&L on previous occasions. The pears are lightly griddled and tenderised through gentle poaching in a champagne syrup.

Another excellent and rather dramatic dish was the Barents Sea King Crab with Creamed Samphire. The huge claws were served on sharing platters with samphire and were surprisingly meaty, tasting both sweet and fresh. A real winner.

The pièce de resistance was still to come. A 5-Hour Slow Roast Shoulder of Lamb served with the most sensational roast potatoes came next. Fragrant, tender, succulent and simply delicious, this was by far the best dish of the evening. This could only have been improved had there been a double helping of roasties.

For dessert, we had a lovely sorbet with passion fruit, banana & white chocolate sauce, followed by petit fours of Seville Zebras and Black Olive and Salted Orange Chocolates. These were all expertly prepared.

The People

There were about 30 of us at this launch event, a mix of young and not so young (myself included) faces, of different nationalities and backgrounds. It was lovely to see some familiar faces there like Jones of I Couldn't Possibly Eat a Whole One, Claudia of White Room Supper Club and Nathan of Mr Drink n Eat.

Helping in the kitchen were also Jen of Cook School Cat who has just completed her one year chef's training at Leith's and Robbie of NoReservations, a Fifteen-trained chef who most recently worked as Claudia Schiffer's private chef, and who joined us at our end of the table.

The Drinks

There is no corkage charge, and we were served a complementary glass of Mondelli, an Italian semi-dry sparkling rose.

Other Stuff

The first official ferdiesfoodlab event will take place on Saturday, 27th August from 7:30pm, with further dates on 9th and 23rd September 2011.

To reserve a place contact: bookings@ferdiesfoodlab.co.uk.

Cost: minimum suggested donation of £40.

Likes: top quality ingredients expertly cooked and presented, grand venue, central location.

Dislikes: None.

Verdict: There is a touch of brilliance about Simon's cooking which demonstrates an increased confidence and audacity beyond that which was evident at F&L. I see ferdiesfoodlab as a very exciting project and definitely one to watch. Highly recommended.


  1. I'm so excited about Ferdie's new place, I agree with you about his style and I think it will only continue to grow more adventurous with time.

  2. Thanks you so much, I sent this review directly to my mum!! What am I like!? Now I really have to deliver on Sat! Well spotted on the pimientos de padron, in the end I decided to keep it the same as in testing :)

  3. I forgot to mention, great photography really captures the mood :) and the ambience . . .

  4. well done senor! Looks delish, gutted we missed, but will be along soon. Matt x

  5. Greetings from the Amish community of Lebanon,pa. Richard from Amish Stories.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. @ Vintage Macaroon - well Debbie, we both fell in love with other over Ferdie's food at F&L all those summers ago.... it can only be a good thing...

    @ Ferdiesfoodlab - my pleasure Simon, the review was well deserved, keep up the excellent work, I look forward to my next visit.

    @ Pistachio and Pickle - thanks Matt, I hope you will make it soon, the food was excellent and the venue grand.

    @ Amish Stories - wow an Amish community in Lebanon, thanks for visiting my site Richard and I hope to see you commenting again.

    @ Plumber London - thanks for your comment regarding the food, I am afraid I had to delete your comment as this is a NON COMMERCIAL site, please do not spam my site with business links or promote your business through The London Foodie. I only endorse businesses or products I have personally tried.

  8. Every time I step into your blog, I can't stop short of a whole afternoon. Loved the read! And the photographs capture the the evening so well.

  9. I read this blog and sent it to my daughter who lives in East London. She is now going this Friday. So envious.

    Great reviews by the way - you certainly capture the feel and flavour of restaurants. You are our 'go to' site if we want to try somewhere new in London.

  10. I went to this this Friday gone and was left utterly gobsmacked. This was the 5th supperclub Ive attended and in two words was a complete shambles.
    Pork was served (and it was eaten ) to two Muslims that I had firmly stated as such before.
    Food arrived late and Simon greeted us with great rudeness when people couldnt understand his misleading seating plan on the wall.
    Several people departed saying that this would be the last supperclub they'd attend and this is also the case for me, Im deeply disappointed.

  11. Thanks Anonymous (Jasvinder) for your comments.

    I wasn't going to reply to this but too many who have come to eat and had a great time, have commented on it to me personally.

    We take our guests allergies an dietary requirements very seriously.

    I've replied to the rest of your comments here:

    ** Incidentally; your party left no food uneaten, and left barely enough of a donation to cover the contribution to Toynbee Hall let alone to cover the food, or the people who served you!

  12. Hi Simon,
    I didnt know how to post my name, but you certainly dont appear to be Einstein to be referring to my name at all. It was obviously who I was because I spoke to you about the issues we experienced that night and I had mentioned the exact date I attended.
    Incidentally, as you put it, you replied a good 6 months after my post here, and I firmly remember that our group of 5 left a lot of food over , including the solo Australian girl that was sitting with us. Furthermore, you are are correct, we donated per what we experienced and two of our group abstained
    a) because their religious beliefs were compromised
    b) because they reserved the right to do so, given what had happened
    c) there was no service.
    After all it was a donation, you cant force people’s hands on that otherwise pay tax on it!
    But please feel free to come back to me 6 months later, fabricating more stuff about that night.


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