- Food & Drink
The natural home of the underground restaurant is North East London, in particular Hackney. There’s something about living rooms in Shoreditch, Daltson and Stoke Newington that suit mismatched wooden tables, charity shop dinner sets, folding chairs and fairy lights. Pop up restaurants make sense there. Of course you’re sat on a stool eating sea bream and talking to Mark about online social networking – it’s what this room was designed for.
South London living rooms, on the other hand, normally house mouse-attracting towers of Tennessee Fried Chicken. So when Blackheath’s underground restaurant, The Savoy Truffle Supperclub, announced new dates, I was quick to join the queue for places. I snagged a table for three; Housemate Number 1 and Nico agreed to be my dinner dates.
We ambled our way through one of South London’s rare desirable neighbourhoods and hit on the block of flats that The Savoy Truffle Supperclub hides in just before the property envy really took hold.
About 14 diners filtered in and we all sat quietly at our tables making whispery conversation until one guest stood up and said: “Hello, my name is X. How do you do?” We were soon milling around (in as far as you can mill in a small room) and chatting. Hats off to the man who forced us to speak. When I’m a grown up, I’m going to be as socially confident as him, just not yet.
The meal kicked off with some slices of nice bread and butter and an espresso cup of chickpea and pancetta soup. I generally try to avoid saying that something is delicious, because it’s boring, but this really was simply delicious. Gorgeous, slightly salty broth with tender chickpeas and a few shards of pancetta floating about it, I will be making it at home now Gav (our chef) has posted up the recipe.
Our proper starter was a Stilton, beetroot and walnut salad. Or, if you look carefully at the picture below, a Stilton and beetroot salad, the walnuts having not quite made it onto my plate. Nico offered to share his walnuts, which were nice enough and a classic third corner to this salad triangle but they weren’t essential. The roasted beetroot was sweet, the Stilton tangy and salty. It’s a fail safe combination.
Our main course was minted mutton with gratin potatoes, roasted carrots and greens. The mutton had been cooked until it fell apart and then shredded for easy forking. The meat itself was good but, for me, the mint didn’t quite work.
The mutton was rich and burly while the mint was light and sweet; it felt like they were fighting each other, dragging each other in opposite directions rather than harmonising. I’d have preferred a stronger flavour to build the mutton up: mustard, capers, anchovies – something gutsy and with a hint of winter hardness about it.
The gratin was a sturdy slab of potatoes that bore the weight of the mutton magnificently. I liked the sweet roasted carrots and the greens a lot and as I handed my plate back to our hostess Alison I proudly announced: “Clean plate!” Sometimes I’m really embarrassing.
We had a mini dessert of Bramley apple sorbet next. We were all agreed that it tasted Exactly Like Bramley Apple, which is the point of sorbet. It’s a way of showing off how good at cooking you are: you take something and then turn it into a smooth, melting version of itself. This was exemplary. No chunks of ice crystals, no musty, muted flavours. We downed it in one.
Our real dessert was a wine glass full of rhubarb fool. Housemate Numbers 1’s face had fallen when I told her dessert was rhubarb. Some traumatic childhood meals have left her with a hatred of the pink stuff but even she conceded that it wasn’t bad for rhubarb. In fact, it was pretty good. Sweet pink rhubarb, a layer of scrunchy ginger biscuits and plenty of whipped cream, I did my best to lay waste to it but had to give up 2/3s of the way through. I was full to the brim.
We rounded off the evening with coffee and mint tea. Our hosts joined each table for a chat and even seemed to understand what we were saying, even though we’d drunk a lot of wine and must have been slurring like stroke victims.
For five courses it’s £37 (pay ahead, BYO booze, no corkage) and you can normally book via their website or keep your eye on their Facebook page for upcoming dates. Worth crossing the river for, North Londoners.