Tuesday, 8 May 2012

e5 Bakehouse Supperclub

Supperclubs are a lucky dip.

After having been blown out from quite niche, unspoken affairs that brought together those with similar interests to aggressively trendy occasions, now with tie-ins ranging from cinematic (Secret Restaurant) to burlesque (Sheekey's Speakeasies), they are like Forrest's proverbial box of chocolates - you really never know what you're going to get.

With this in mind, last week BB and I headed to the e5 Bakehouse for their first foray into supperclubdom. The e5 Bakehouse is a special place that is single-handedly trying to save sourdough in London. This write-up in The Guardian goes into detail, but suffice it to say it's a lovely little spot, housed under the railway arches bordering London Fields, selling their own bread and also serving coffee and bread-based vittles for lunch or snacks through the day. My advice is head there for a coffee and a loaf for later and then loaf next door to Happy Kitchen (arch 393) for breakfast from the pancake menu. Yes, "pancake menu". You're welcome.

When BB and I arrived, we didn't quite know what to expect but were greeted by four long tables laid in the normal eating area in the front of the arch, with the infinite ovens behind. These communal tables, with only odd seats still available, provoked the first testing Supperclub Moment of the evening - the initial seating shuffle. After glancing around the room, weighing up our potential companions as well as our chances of sitting together, all quickly enough to seem effortless (we hoped), we ended up sat with a couple and a group of four friends and, with a welcome glass of white in hand, started in on the appeteasers.

This is about the time when the second Supperclub Moment cropped up - the inevitable question of food etiquette. You have to appear generous with any passing platters while still ensuring you get your share. Long slates were being passed with stuffed vine leaves and deliciously crispy mini-pastillas, which brought back fond memories from Morocco when they were actually brought my way - one half of the couple at the head of our table proceeded to levy a handling tax on each platter passed. After some distraction plays and quick maneuvering, we managed to snag the last specimens, which were still delicious.

Around this time, a very lively sommelier sat amongst us and explained his choices of natural wines to accompany the evening's mixed menu. The man was cartoonish with enthusiasm over his selections, which added to the experience, and only got moreso over the course of the night as he enjoyed them. Supperclub Moment #3: follow by example - drink to ease any more Moments to come.

Bottle firmly on table, we embarked on the globe-trotting menu.

Our starter was a veritable vat of pork rillettes, served with e5's infamous bread, gherkins, salad, and some lovely stewy white beans.

The stop in France aside, we headed to India with raan masaledar, thick cuts of leg of lamb that was served in a spicy but sweet yogurt sauce with almonds, and khumi aloo, roasted mushrooms and potatoes, all with coconutty-sweet saffron rice and spinach. "Family-syle" doesn't really justify the portions served - even our eager overseer on the top of the table seemed sated by the end of the evening.

We finished firmly back in England with a log of roulade - not so much a beauty as a beast, the tender meringue was slathered with thick whipped cream and subtley sweet stewed meringue and studded with pistachios.

All in all, the evening was a success - a mixed bag of company crossed with generous portions of good food in a great setting and some learnings for future supperclubbing.

I think it's safe to say we successfully navigated the box, without a liqueur-filled chocolate-covered cherry in sight.

e5 Bakehouse
Arch 395, Mentmore Terrace, London Fields, E8 3PH

For tickets to the Supperclub, click here.

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