It’s no secret that we at Sevenstreets like talking about food almost as much as eating it. From the highs to the lows we’re always on the lookout for quality additions to the city’s dining scene. So when the word was going around on Twitter than a supper club was coming to Liverpool, we didn’t have to think twice about booking a place.
The supper club concept stretches back to the 1930’s and 40’s, but the current incarnation, mainly centred in London, is more of a pop-up restaurant in unusual or informal surroundings, with an emphasis on high quality food in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.
The launch evening’s Italian-themed menu appeared straightforward and deceptively simple, causing me to wonder about the suggested contribution of £25, not including wine, which guests could bring themselves. I will pay that willingly if I’m at an exceptional restaurant, but in the hands of three unknown cooks? I honestly had no idea what to expect. The evening could be extremely well-executed or a dinner party disaster.
After climbing three flights of stairs to the venue, which was a loft apartment in a converted warehouse, guests were welcomed with a glass of prosecco, garnished with morello cherries and greeted warmly by hosts Jo, Tom and Lucy. All three have worked at Delifonseca at various times (and indeed the godmother of the Liverpool restaurant scene Candice Fonseca was in attendance) and all care a great deal about good food, its provenance and preparation. Tom currently manages the Dockside branch and will be a familiar face to anyone who’s dined there.
Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike were well-catered for with two choices for starters and main courses.
Starters were either slices home-cured bresaola (thinly sliced silverside beef) or two mini galettes of filo pastries topped with a combination of lentils and butternut squash with a carrot salad. Curing your own meats? An ambitious bit of DIY charcuterie – and everyone who tasted them said they were excellent. My galettes had a great mix of flavours and textures and were every bit as good as a typical Delifonseca starter.
Mains were an Italian fish soup, or an aubergine bake known as parmigiana. I’ve had the latter in the states previously; eggplant parmesan, as it’s known there, is a staple of Italian-American cooking and is very easy to get wrong. The dish can be soggy and be drenched in tomato sauce to the exclusion of all other flavours. They got it exactly right: the breadcrumb coating was crispy and the side dishes complemented it well.
The quality of homemade foccaccia was what every restaurant in this city should aspire to have and very few do. It’s difficult to pick a favourite course, but the chocolate mousse was fantastic, rich and with a hint of Cointreau, served in vintage teacups.
What made the evening different and better than just a good restaurant meal was the atmosphere. Even though I arrived on my own not knowing who the other guests would be, a mix of familiar faces arrived in due course. Liverpool doesn’t need six degrees of separation; you’re never more than four away from anyone in this city. Everyone was friendly and ready to chat, which another guest described as ‘networking in the best possible way’ – people sharing common interests and happy to make connections.
Though the three hosts were busy in the kitchen for most of the evening, they took a well-earned break after serving the last course and came around the table to chat over coffee and homemade petits fours. They’ve created something special and a very welcome addition to the Liverpool food scene.