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Friday, 16 September 2011

London Supper Club Review – Leluu Supper Club


One of the pioneers of the supper club movement in the UK, British-Vietnamese Uyen Luu is the brains behind Leluu Supper Club, an offshoot of the late Fernandez & Leluu (F&L) of Hackney, London.


I visited F&L countless times over the last two years and reviewed Uyen’s food and hospitality here, here and here. Evenings at F&L were always fun, with plenty of excellent food, laughter and great company. I met some of my dearest friends at F&L and spent many a night sharing meals and chatting with other diners.

Some might argue that with new supper clubs and pop-ups being launched every other day, the novelty factor is dwindling. I disagree, and if anything, nearly 3 years after the first supper clubs appeared in London, I still keep meeting people who have never experienced a supper club and would like to try one but do not know how to go about finding them.

Recently however, there were a few worrying comments that were made by friends who visited some of these new supper clubs. These varied from having to wait for hours to be served tiny amounts of food to experiencing uncaring or unprofessional service, at sometimes inappropriate venues. I would hope that if a supper club host decides to open his/her home to the public and charge for the experience, they will have worked these issues through before launching, and be confident that they can feed and provide a fun atmosphere and venue to their diners. It is true that a supper club is not a restaurant, but if I am being charged £35 for food (equivalent to what several one-Michelin starred restaurants are charging for a three course meal in London), I would expect my host to demonstrate pretty good standards of cooking and hosting skills. With so many supper clubs in London these days, some of which have been around for nearly 3 years, there is really no excuse for shoddy food or service.

So I was looking forward to returning to Uyen’s home and experiencing her new supper club incarnation Leluu Supper Club because:

1. I knew I was going to be really well fed
2. Her home and supper club are beautiful
3. It is the most professional set up of any supper club I have been
4. I really enjoy meeting the diners who frequent her supper club
5. It is a very good night out

Accompanying me on the day was Dr G, and my friends Julie Vu and her partner Ryan, owners of the Vietnamese City Caphe, my favourite lunch spot in the City. We arrived at Uyen’s to be greeted with a glass of wine, making our way to her garden to mingle and chat with the other diners until dinner was served at 8pm.

I was pleased that Uyen decided to give a more Vietnamese focus to her supper club since the demise of F&L, as I feel she provides Vietnamese dishes that are not normally found in London restaurants. Uyen will serve up to 8 courses at her supper club and if like me, you love having many different flavours and textures in your meals (as opposed to just quantity), you will be sure to find them there. Some of the delicious dishes we were served included:

Homemade Grey Feather Back Fish Cakes with Dill, Ong Choi and Chilli dip

Summer Rolls with Poached Pork Belly, Prawns, Perilla, Cockscombe, Garden Mint, Coriander and Vermicelli

Bun Bo Hue - Spicy Lemongrass & Pig's Trotter Soup with Beef, Perilla, Banana Blossom & Sweet Basil

Chicken Salad with Carrot, Banana Blossom and Hot Mint

Bo La Lot - Sirloin Steak with Lemongrass & Sesame, wrapped in Betel Leaf

Yam Noodles with Tofu, Carrots, Ong Choi, Shiitake Mushrooms and Peanuts

Banh Xeo - Coconut & Beer Crepes with Pork, Prawns & Beansprouts

Tapioca Pearls and Banana in Coconut Milk

We had a great table at Leluu Supper Club, a mix of American tourists (mother, daughter and friend) who had arrived in London on that day, a delightful Parisian couple who were sitting next to me with their Mexican friend (and if you are reading this, please get in touch for that Peruvian meal!), and my friends Julie and Ryan, and Dr G.

I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at Leluu Supper Club, and if you are a supper club supporter as I am, there is no better place to experience this than at Uyen’s.

Cost: minimum donation of £35 per person, BYO.

Likes: best Vietnamese food in London, stylish venue, great night out. Vietnamese cooking classes.

Dislikes: None.

Verdict: One of the best supper clubs in London, Leluu Supper Club exemplifies why this movement is here to stay. Excellent food, gorgeous venue, great host. If you haven’t experienced it, just go. Highly recommended.

9 comments:

  1. I agree! such an amazing supper club. I'm taking a group of friends there for my birthday this year...can't wait!

    ReplyDelete
  2. what a lovely write up Luiz! My favourite supper club by far! x

    ReplyDelete
  3. I second your comments about this lovely supper club - and some of the best Vietnamese food I've had in London.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've never been to a supper club but really want to remedy that...sounds like such an incredible experience. And that food! Wow. I hope people contributed considerably more than the minimum donation - it looks worth twice as much :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Uh ! Feels like I am in a party. Great dishes & lovely Pictures. Cheers !

    ReplyDelete
  6. I went to Uyen's Supper Club last week for the first time, my third Supper Club in as many months, and I have to say I was disappointed. Given the recent excellent review above, I am wondering if it has really "jumped the shark", or if it was just an off-night, or if it was just me.

    The food was mostly fine, though really nothing special, and the dessert, pandan panna cotta, was actually pretty bad and many people at my table left it. I did have that feeling that you never should at a Supper Club: that I wish I had gone to a local Vietnamese restaurant instead.

    But of course, we are at someone's home, not a restaurant, so it is the non-food elements that should make the difference, and not make anyone feel like a restaurant would have been a better choice. It's a nice space, but having 30 guests felt crowded, and boy was it noisy with all the chat. I think this was probably because there were several large groups of people who all knew each other already, so there was no polite chit-chat, just full on socialising. So noisy though. If there was any background music, I couldn't hear it. I literally had to lip-read my friend across the table.

    Compared to other supper clubs, I felt like we did not really see anything of the host, only when she brought the food. To be fair, she was very busy, and this meant she was not really a host at all, but a waitress. It really felt like she needed at least one other person to help serve, maybe even two. This, plus the noise, meant that we did not get any insight into the food, or any descriptions or commentary or anything. This would be normal in a restaurant, but it seems bad practice at a Supper Club, especially as there was no menu. I actually didn't know what I was eating most of the time, because no one told me. I heard that Uyen's mum was the cook, and that would have been lovely to have seen her, or had the chance to thank her, but she stayed out of sight.

    We had a gluten-free person at our table, who had phoned ahead. Given that there is gluten in soy sauce and fish sauce, it might have been a good idea to suggest she didn't come to this particular meal, but as it was, Uyen seemed unprepared. She was actually quite rude to the customer, which left a bad atmosphere at our table.

    I discovered that Uyen has been doing it every Friday night for 2 years. Maybe she needs to take some time out for a re-charge and re-boot, because something definitely wasn't right that night.

    I hope this comes across as thoughtful and constructive criticism, not just negativity or snark.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I went to Uyen's Supper Club last week for the first time, my third Supper Club in as many months, and I have to say I was disappointed. Given the recent excellent review above, I am wondering if it has really "jumped the shark", or if it was just an off-night, or if it was just me.

    The food was mostly fine, though really nothing special, and the dessert, pandan panna cotta, was actually pretty bad and many people at my table left it. I did have that feeling that you never should at a Supper Club: that I wish I had gone to a local Vietnamese restaurant instead.

    But of course, we are at someone's home, not a restaurant, so it is the non-food elements that should make the difference, and not make anyone feel like a restaurant would have been a better choice. It's a nice space, but having 30 guests felt crowded, and boy was it noisy with all the chat. I think this was probably because there were several large groups of people who all knew each other already, so there was no polite chit-chat, just full on socialising. So noisy though. If there was any background music, I couldn't hear it. I literally had to lip-read my friend across the table.

    Compared to other supper clubs, I felt like we did not really see anything of the host, only when she brought the food. To be fair, she was very busy, and this meant she was not really a host at all, but a waitress. It really felt like she needed at least one other person to help serve, maybe even two. This, plus the noise, meant that we did not get any insight into the food, or any descriptions or commentary or anything. This would be normal in a restaurant, but it seems bad practice at a Supper Club, especially as there was no menu. I actually didn't know what I was eating most of the time, because no one told me. I heard that Uyen's mum was the cook, and that would have been lovely to have seen her, or had the chance to thank her, but she stayed out of sight.

    We had a gluten-free person at our table, who had phoned ahead. Given that there is gluten in soy sauce and fish sauce, it might have been a good idea to suggest she didn't come to this particular meal, but as it was, Uyen seemed unprepared. She was actually quite rude to the customer, which left a bad atmosphere at our table.

    I discovered that Uyen has been doing it every Friday night for 2 years. Maybe she needs to take some time out for a re-charge and re-boot, because something definitely wasn't right that night.

    I hope this comes across as thoughtful and constructive criticism, not just negativity or snark.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uyen contacted me soon after I posted the review above, and we have had a good discussion about my experience. My hope that it was an unusual "off night" seems to have been right, which is good to know. I also got some of my facts wrong: Uyen's mother is not "the cook" (they both do it), and the diner with food allergies had not fully warned Uyen, hence her reaction. Although I would still say that the bad vibe that ensued at the table was avoidable, and did cast a shadow. And, come to think of it, it probably also coloured my review. Hey ho.

      I have been invited back! That is very nice of Uyen. As a result of our discussion, I am gaining experience of managing my feedback a bit, and I hope it is fair to say that Uyen is gaining experience of managing troublesome guests (I mean me!).

      Delete
  8. HELP please!!
    HI!!
    Where else would you recommend me eating around Olympic Stadium?
    Thanks!! Egypt egyptashi@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete

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