What I really love about London is that ultimately it’s a really small place and you can find someone or something in common with pretty much everyone. And usually, by complete chance, opportunities arise just by taking the time to enjoy a glass of rather lovely red wine with a complete stranger. That’s what I did two weeks ago. By gatecrashing a casual meeting I met Kara from Tabl.
Tabl is the new home for pop-up kitchens, “secret” supper clubs and food adventures.
A one-off event or a more regular treat, what makes tabl pop-ups special is that they aren’t everyday occurrences. They take place somewhere unexpected, often in private residences and offer a shared and social dining experience. There’s no permanent location and you can’t just walk in off the street, the way to access them is to find them on Tabl.
From that gatecrashed meeting and random encounter with Kara, I was soon invited by her and colleague Tazz to become a Community Founder of Tabl and have the chance to write and blog about some of the amazing dining events offered on Tabl! And so on Thursday night I went to my first ever proper supper club thanks to them. London really is just amazing for opportunities to try amazing new things.
The supper club in question was run by Christabel’s, a bespoke dining and drinking events company, serving up innovative, creative and inspiring pop-ups, and this one was hosted in Christabel’s apartment a brisk, semi-short walk from Angel. I’ll say this now, it’s one of the loveliest apartments i’ve ever been to in London and gave me some major home goals.
Some may be put off the idea of going to a strangers house to have dinner with other strangers, but I think it’s the perfect way to break down the barriers us Londoner’s have set up for ourselves. With all guests being placed in a new environment with a concept different to that of usual dining, conversation becomes easy and you make new friends in no time. And this supper club in particular was designed to inspire fun conversation with its Edible Playground theme.
Myself and my friend Milly arrived a bit late after being let down by google maps and our terrible sense of direction. We walked into the beautiful apartment and were greeted by Minerva who was our cook and host for the evening. She handed us our stunning gin fizz cocktail decorated with edible glitter (EDIBLE GLITTER OH MY GOD!) and took the BYOB bottle of wine we’d brought with us to place in the fridge as we took our seats.
Minerva introduced us to the concept of the evening; food you’re actually allowed to play with! Creativity is paramount, and memories of beach holidays with buckets and spades are the inspiration behind the starter. Quinoa sandcastles with avocado, asparagus, crispy bacon and tomatoes. An instagrammers dream, a structural engineers nightmare!
Milly and I packed the buckets full with the beautifully green quinoa which had been made with broad beans blended in a magi-mix, and once full to the brim and carefully compacted, we up-ended them onto our plates and lifted them away carefully. The result was a perfect castle ready for some innovative design. This is the grand designs portion of dinner!
Now for anyone looking at building a new home, i’ll tell you this now; quinoa is not an ideal building material. After fixing a roof of bacon, a front porch of asparagus and a moat of avocado, my walls crumbled in a landslide. I picked up my fork and began to shovel the debris of my castle into my mouth! The quinoa was fresh and light, the avocado at the perfect stage of ripe, the baby plum tomatoes burst like juicy grapes in my mouth and the bacon brought it all together with a crisp, saltiness. There was also a vinaigrette available for drizzling which gave it all a sweet tang.
Due to the intimacy and homeliness of the setting it meant that there wasn’t even an ounce of pretension, and yet the food was refined and of an extremely high quality; the kind you’d expect to find in a restaurant. While we waited for our main course to arrive, we entertained ourselves with a bit of table cloth doodling, unleashing our inner Banksy and trying desperately to resist the urge to draw a willy.
Our mains arrived, and all but Milly who is vegetarian enjoyed Soy Ginger Honey Chicken with a side of courgetti, carrot and ginger and a beetroot mashed potato. Alongside our cutlery was a paintbrush and we were encouraged to paint our chicken with the sticky sweet sauce. In theory this was a good idea, but it wasn’t as innovative and creative as the quinoa castles and the enjoyment came more in the eating than the playing (which isn’t really a bad thing). The chicken was glorious – tender and sweet, and went really well with the vegetables. I went back for seconds and dribbled on lashings of the sweet sauce. Milly on the other hand had some beautiful aubergine boats stuffed with cheese and topped with pomegranate seeds. The beetroot mash was a gorgeous colour of deep magenta, and was gooey and sticky almost like the texture of peanut butter.
We sipped at our wine before the games began again with dessert: a salted caramel puff with maple syrup cream, golden raspberries (and by golden I mean actual gold glittered raspberries) and a Jenga tower of shortbread.
I’ve never been too great at Jenga and this round was no exception, though I don’t think any of us were disappointed when it came tumbling down as it meant we could finally dig into it!
I’ve always adored shortbread and have had my fair share in my time, so please don’t think i’m exaggerating when I say this was the best shortbread I have ever enjoyed. There was enough left over at the end of the night for us to take some home with us and i’ve been munching on my little doggy bag for the duration of writing this. They’re light and buttery, crumbly, sweet and incidentally go wonderfully when dunked in a cup of coffee. They’re the kind of biscuits that could be sold on the shelves of a place like Fortnums and I would 100% buy them.
They also happened to dunk very well into the gooey, delectable salted caramel sauce which oozed over the puff and into the maple cream. Somewhere within the sauce were hints of popping candy (an ingredient I will forever enjoy!) and we had fun trying to detect the source. The maple cream was nothing more than a stroke of genius and something I will definitely try to recreate at home. In fact, the entire dessert is one I would like to have again and again. I couldn’t get enough of it.
Milly and I adored our evening at Christabel’s. Minerva was a wonderful host, super friendly, very welcoming and she clearly has a great talent for cooking. The whole meal was restaurant quality in the relaxed, laid-back environment of a home and I loved every second. It was nice to be able to meet and chat with others who appreciate the uniqueness of a dining experience such as this, and if you get an opportunity to experience one of Christabel’s other fun and quirky themed events I suggest to leap at the chance.
Or if you fancy trying something similar, join Tabl for free and have a look at some of their exciting dining events coming up in the next few weeks. I guarantee there’s something on there for everyone.