A tale of four Brighton supperclubs: Silo vs 64 Degrees / Cin Cin / Sam's of Brighton / No.5

by - December 23, 2014

This month has mainly been about the supperclub for me. The trend continues to boom, evolving from the classic underground restaurant where home cooks open their own homes to chef collaborations and special dining experiences. It's great fun and I'm meeting such a variety of people at these events from all walks of life; hairdressers, famous musicians, psychiatrists, millionaire investors, art teachers and students, often all together round one table.

So, unless you have been under a rock for the past five years, you must have heard of supperclubs, and if you are still unsure then please give one a whirl regardless. You may be apprehensive about dining with strangers or going to someone's home but I can assure you, by the end of the night you may as well be at an Italian wedding, with hugs and cheek kisses and plenty of laughter. I'm actually really happy to go along alone to one now as it forces me to interact quicker with other guests and only very, very occasionally get stuck next to a complete bore. For that, there's always wine :)

I've decided to write about four of these suppers as they show how different an experience you can have which I think is mainly down to the format and venue of the supper club rather than the food.

Silo and 64 Degrees 
Could there have been a hotter supperclub ticket this year? I think not. Two of Brighton's new food stars, who have certainly attracted worthy national acclaim, collaborated in a very memorable supper. I love the style of both of these boundary pushing restaurants and that they don't have to rely on cheap thrills with their intelligent, well crafted and conceptual food. On this night were treated to Catch-box cod with black quinoa, Brooklands Farm duck with carrot and kale and my favourite dish, Secretts Farm Jerusalem artichoke with pickled red cabbage and blue goat's cheese. We even had two desserts but my favourite was the pine parfait with apple puree and puffed rice (or Rice Krispies in my book!).

You could see which dishes had a heavier influence from either chef but the whole meal work together a treat and has left me with a taste for more from both restaurants.


Cin Cin Italian winter feast
I have a lot of time for the fabulous Cin Cin who are normally seen about and about in their gorgeous vintage catering van. But they seem to be increasingly at home with supper events, one of Brighton's biggest with 70 covers. We started with sharing boards of beautiful antipasti which were more inspired than the bog standard with baked ricotta, Bagna Cauda (a favourite!), beetroot carpaccio, meats and salami. This was a great format for ice breaking strangers around communal tables as well, and there is nothing more Italian than conviving around a table. We followed with truffled baked macaroni and main was a roasted pork loin on the bone with caponata sprouts, Fontina potato millefoglie, red cabbage braised in Marsala and sautéed cavolo nero.

It was a real pleasure to be involved a bit further at this particular supperclub as I has suggested the amuse of mushroom soup with truffle foam and a Parmesan tuile (which was served in a Velo cup - ho ho) and also created the menu design for them.

We were sat next to Simon from Ten Green Bottles who had supplied the wine for the evening (handy). A beautiful evening which got the festive ball rolling for me.

Cin Cin's events are listed via their site and  http://tabl.com/.

Ollie Couillaud's supper night at Sam's of Brighton
Ollie is now in partnership with Sam Metcalfe at Sam's of Brighton and is ex Head Chef of Chez Bruce, The Square, Tom Aitken’s, La Trompette and The Dorchester. He is also the happiest Frenchman (hell, happiest chef) I have ever come across! As well as cooking at Sam's, he has been very active in the supperclub and events area. 

Ollie's dinner was very decadent and on the whole classic with perfectly matched wines throughout and very fine ingredients. The seared black bream with fennel puree was my favourite dish of the night and the squid vinaigrette was some of the best squid I have eaten, maybe ever. The duck with honey roast plums and port sauce and the apple tarte with praline parfait were also a robust crowd pleasers as well. 

This was in a restaurant environment and those attending tend to be ones that like the certainty of a known location and format. Supperclubs hosted in restaurants tend to be from those in the industry, however, professional chefs are increasingly coming to the supperclub scene. This allows them complete creative freedom away from the restaurant menu confines, so these special dinners are really worth a look in and often a very different experience to just booking a table for the night.

I really enjoyed my evening here, and with a chef of this calibre, you were guaranteed to eat well.

Ollie's other events are listed via http://tabl.com/.

Far East Feast on the South Coast with No. 5 and Millie's Kitchen
This event was what I would call a classic supperclub as the setting was one of the host's very (VERY) gorgeous home in one of Brighton's premium postcodes and I did suffer painful pangs of property envy here. I find dinner nights in an intimate home environment more interesting as people are generally quite reserved on arrival but quickly warm up to the point of raucous fun in most situations. Lizzie (who was Michael Schumacher's personal caterer) was very good at welcoming people into her home, so it was only natural you would soon feel relaxed. This was a collaboration supper with Millie Taylor from Millie's Kitchen and author of Party Perfect Bites. Naturally we started with some gorgeous canapes from the book like Mini Okonomiyaki, Gochujang Chicken and Yee sang rolls.

The starter was a delicate and fresh prawn, cucumber and wakame salad and then went into heartier, succulent thick slices of Buta-kakuni (slow braised pork belly) with steamed rice, green beans and Japanese mustard for the main.

Big shout out goes to the pudding, normally my least favourite course, but the toasted coconut and vanilla pannacotta, mango and yuzu sorbet with a sesame tuile had pretty much everyone round the table mewing like cats. I know my pannacotta and this was one of the best ones I've tasted.

What was also good is that each course had a equally well considered vegetarian option, which is more unusual to find in a supperclub and one of the vegetarian guests commented her appreciation of this. She was even brought her own canapes which was a really nice touch.

This was the first supperclub I had been to where the majority of the guests came as one group of friends, probably adding to the fun atmosphere as well but this really was a cracking evening and I met some lovely people.

Lizzie's Brighton events are listed via http://tabl.com/ (look for events by No. 5). 

You can find out Millie's upcoming supper events by signing up to her mailing list on her blog http://milliskitchen.blogspot.co.uk/

(Top image by No.5 via Tabl.com)

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