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Bloodshot Supper Club

Bloodshot Supper Club

by Felicity Spector 05 February 2015

Welcome to The Bloodshot Supper Club - an exciting and unique series of monthly dinners aimed at those hardworking restaurant staff who finish service late at night and have nowhere decent to eat. Felicity was invited to the inaugural dinner at 1am!

Felicity Spector has worked in national television journalism for nearly thirty years, but has now combined her day job with an increasing interest in food writing in her spare time.

Robin Gill is one of the most inspired - and inspiring - chefs you could hope to meet. And possibly one of the maddest - as we pushed our way into his Clapham restaurant at an unholy hour of the night, the narrow room glowing with light and crowded with some of the city's biggest culinary stars, their colleagues and friends.

You'd be forgiven for thinking Robin had more than enough on his hands. Two highly acclaimed restaurants - The Dairy, and now The Manor. A new baby. And he's just moved house. But after a lunchtime conversation with Chiltern Firehouse chef Nuno Mendes, the idea of a "Bloodshot Supper Club" was born. An exciting and unique series of dinners, cooked by a different leading chef each month - aimed at those hardworking restaurant staff who finish service late at night and have nowhere decent to eat.

And that's why we found ourselves taking our seats for dinner at just gone one o clock in the morning, for the inaugural menu, created by The Dairy's own head chef Richard Falk. The room was buzzing. To our right - Nuno Mendes with his Chiltern Firehouse colleagues. Just next to us, James Lowe from Lyles. Too many others to mention: we were ready, by this time, to eat.

And what food began to arrive: The Dairy staff who'd already worked a full shift producing perfect dish after perfect dish.

Some snacks. Anchovies, deep fried in a crisp batter, nuggets of intense salt. A delicate mouthful of smoked eel mousse, wrapped in pickled kohlrabi. And then the bread: I was more than slightly scared by the description - 'Botulism Bread, sour butter, pork'. The little sacks of warm sourdough loaves which arrived were parcels of pure heaven. The long-fermented bread, moist and savoury: a dish of sour butter with some kind of treacle, another of whipped lardo. All of it vanished, within seconds.

It was just gone 2am, and time for the starter. My favourite dish of the night, perhaps - irridescent earthenware bowls with chargrilled stems of sprouting broccoli, golden raisins, a pesto made from the stem and a pool of almond milk emulsion. There was the merest crumb of bread still left to mop it up.

The fish course was next. A piece of skate, soft as you like, with fronds of monks beard and herbs from the Dairy rooftop garden: Exmoor caviar and a dashi broth poured from clear glass teapots. Both delicate, and finely balanced.

By the time the main course arrived it was probably pushing four - but several bottles of wine seemed to have come and gone, and nobody cared.

While the others had steak so rare it was almost moving, I had an incredible dish of sea bass, sweet charred romanesco and a smoked cauliflower cream. There was, I saw, an actual blizzard raging outside. Our raucous table was too busy collapsing in laughter to take much notice.

A pre-dessert arrived at some point: a slice of pear and a froth of pear sorbet, with mini shot glasses of a home made Kombutcha fermented tea. A huge cheer went up round the room as the chilled shot glasses were passed round. Shots for the blood shot crowd, indeed.

And finally, a pudding-come-breakfast for what by now was practically dawn. 'Toast, butter, marmalade', said the menu: and what arrived was the wittiest interpretation - little frozen segments of blood orange, a buerre noisette cream, shards of toast and a slick of blood orange marmalade. I could hear the sound of 40 plates being scraped clean.

A lucky few were heading home to bed and a Sunday off: but many were back to the pass, ready for a busy lunch service to come. Richard Falk emerged from the kitchen to hugs and handshakes - what a feat, what a treat, what a privilege to have been there.

On the way out, on my way to catch a couple of hours sleep before my own Sunday shift in the newsroom, I had time to congratulate Robin - and his wife Sarah, astonishingly still going strong after this marathon achievement.

And a chat with The Chiltern Firehouse team - in charge of cooking next month's supper club, eager to explain their ideas. "Are you coming? Go on, say you're coming!" I could feel myself nodding - maybe, yes. It did sound rather brilliant, after all.

This all-night dining lark is total insanity. But utterly unique. Utterly memorable. And - it seems - with a rather addictive buzz.

The Bloodshot Supper Club takes place on the last Saturday of every month. Find out more by following Robin on Twitter @bloodshotsupperclub or visiting The Dairy's events page.

 
 

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