Time for supper
PUBLISHED: 09:18 24 February 2014
Shunning the formality of restaurants in favour of a more relaxed, intimate dining experience without compromising on the food – supper clubs are enjoying a real revival. They open for the evening in private homes, at pop-up venues, unusual locations or even as one-off special events at usually formal restaurants. Anyone can book a place and often guests are encouraged to sit around one big table, to meet new people and, of course, try excellent, often home-cooked, food.
Clarissa May Notte and Yusuf Lovett set up the Unthank Supper Club after moving to Norfolk from London as a way of meeting new people.
“Friends of ours had just moved to a big house in Norwich and they didn’t really know anybody either. So we talked about starting our own supper club. I always loved cooking and they had a large enough house to host, so we thought let’s do it. We put it on Facebook and Gumtree, and within two weeks we had 20 people booked in. It was so much fun and grew from there.
“Everybody sits together around one table and people have to interact, which initially some are nervous of doing. But the social barriers and the formality of a restaurant are taken away so it feels like you are eating with family or friends. Hearing the noisy hubbub of chatter is definitely a sign of success.”
As well as the regular supper club evenings, the couple from north Norfolk also host them in other people’s homes and regularly arrange special pop-up events all over the county.
She says that she and Yusuf – who has since retrained from being a carpenter to sous chef at the The Duck Inn at Stanhoe – have a very clear ethos: “All supper clubs are different, but we are focused on serving local, seasonal food wherever possible. Our cooking has evolved and is a real blend of both of our passions. My food tends to draw influence from south east Asian and Persian flavours while Yusuf is very cheffy and technical.”
This month, sees the launch of the county’s newest supper club based in an unusual setting on the Broads. The How Hill Pudding Club gives guests the chance to sample a menu of delicious desserts while also highlighting the beauty of the nature reserve and raising funds for the How Hill Trust at Ludham.
The first of the four seasonal pudding club nights, costing £15 per person, is on February 15.
House manager Sharon Hardy says it will have a strong Norfolk theme: “There will be a home-made soup course, then a selection of home-made puddings. We are planning to include Canary lemon pudding, a bread and butter pudding with a harvest twist, and a Norfolk treacle custard tart.
“Trust director Simon Partridge has a very sweet tooth and he will talk a little bit about the history of the puddings in between each one,” she says. “Whether you are on your own or in a group of 10, we want it to be a fantastic sociable event which is a bit of fun, raises money for the trust and gives you the chance to meet new people.”
Watch and learn
Some restaurants are also now hosting their own events, such as Titchwell Manor on the north Norfolk coast which launched its own supper club last year. Focusing on different themes, award-winning head chef Eric Snaith cooks in front of the guests for an relaxed, interactive dining experience.
Inspired by their love of food and the television show Come Dine With Me, PR account manager Amanda Bunn and her four friends set up their own supper club group.
“Every three weeks we take it in turns to host and cook a meal for the rest of the group to enjoy. We all work and one of the girls is also a mother of three, so it became harder to see one another. We came up with the idea of creating our own Come Dine With Me group just between ourselves and it is brilliant fun. We all love food and it’s a great way to try new things and get together at one another’s homes,” she says.
“I still love going out to a restaurant but this is a more intimate and relaxed way of meeting, and because we all cook very different styles of food, it is always something to look forward to.”
Booking is advised for all the supper club events mentioned here. For more information, call How Hill on 01692 678555; Titchwell Manor on 01485 210221 and see www.unthanksupperclub.blogspot.co.uk