Supper clubs are hot right now, but it can be notoriously difficult to discover the good ones. We’ve got all the insider info; here’s our guide to the best supper clubs in London.
First things first – what’s the difference between a pop-up restaurant and a supper club?
There is an element of crossover, but there are some key features which characterise a supper club:
- They are held repeatedly but not always predictably, as opposed to pop-ups which generally run daily for a set period of time. A supper club may be one weekend a month, or four weekends in a row followed by a gap of a few months – whatever works for the organiser.
- They are usually run by home cooks, not chefs – although having said that, some of the most renowned chefs in the UK started out hosting supperclubs (read on for the most famous example.)
- They often take place in the organiser’s home or a local community space, rather than somewhere with a professional kitchen; you should have the chance to chat with the organiser at some point during the evening.
- They tend to be staffed by the organiser’s friends & family and/or volunteers, rather than experienced hospitality staff – both in the kitchen and serving your food. (Please remember this, and be nice.)
- They are mostly BYO (Bring Your Own), although occasionally organisers may give you the chance to get in on a bulk order for a particular beverage, e.g. a particular type of sake.
- They encourage guest interaction and connection; whilst you may not often chat to strangers at the next table in a restaurant, it’s pretty hard to ignore someone scooched up next to you on a bench – making them a good way to meet fellow foodies and a great option for solo diners.
- The vibe is much more relaxed and intimate, more like dining with (ridiculously talented) friends than going out for dinner.
If you are a supper club newbie, brush up on the etiquette of supper club dining with this super-useful guide from The London Foodie – see below for details of his Nikkei supper club.
London Foodie Supper Club
Ex-banker turned Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef and cookbook author Luiz Hara’s Japanese/Nikkei supper club is held in his gorgeous Islington home. The moment you arrive, you are handed a welcome cocktail and then you get chatting to the other guests — it feels much more like a social occasion than a commercial one.
Luiz will talk you through the menu and explain the fascinating origins of Nikkei cuisine; helpfully, the full menu can be accessed by a QR code at the table and includes where each recipe can be found in his cookbooks (available to buy and have signed on the night). This is a perfect introduction to the London supper club scene.
Compared to the average tasting menu, which has a comparable number of courses, supper clubs are an absolute bargain. At my last visit here the menu consisted of a Jinro Soju welcome cocktail and gyoza canape followed by no less than five starter dishes, including delicate King Prawn, Aubergine & Oyster Mushroom Tempura, the utterly delicious Mentaiko Spaghetti with Marinated Spicy Cod’s Roe & Black Tobiko Caviar and one of Luiz’s new recipes, his Nikkei Aguachile – Prawns in a Green Chilli, Coriander and Yuzu-Lime Dressing, ceviche-style.
Our main course of Grilled Grass-Fed Picanha came with Edamame Gohan – Rice with Edamame Beans, Mangetout & Spring Onions – and Pitan Dofu, which was the first time I tried Century Old Egg! Dessert was summery Tapioca with Caramelised Coconut, Kaffir Lime & Cachaça Flambéed Bananas. It’s a fabulous evening of outstanding food, great company (foodies are a gregarious, interesting bunch) and the joy of discovering new dishes.
The Occasional Dining Club
The Occasional Dining Club has a different theme for each event. The last one (at time of writing) was all things American; after a welcome cocktail, featured dishes included Beef Dripping Popcorn, Fried Chicken, Slaw, Tater Tots, Mac & Cheese and Charred Corn, Mississippi Mud Pie and Kool-Aid Granita.
Price: £65.00 per person
BYO: TBC depending on venue
Follow @theoccasionaldiningclub on Instagram for updates.
Nyonya Supper Club
Another ex-banker and graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, mentored by Anthony Bourdain on 2014 cooking show The Taste, Guan grew up in Malaysia learning Nyona dishes in the kitchen with his godmother. He now runs supper clubs in selected venues across London. Expect up to eight dishes such as Lemongrass and Belacan Wings, Fried Assam (Tamarind) Prawns and Daging Pongteh – beef flank braised in fermented soy bean paste. Guan also does some great collaboration supper clubs and events
Cheapo Top Tip: With most supper clubs you can sign up to a newsletter to get early notification of events; once you’ve actually dined with them, you may find yourself on a priority booking list.
Kolkata Roots Supper Club
Sohini runs this mainly vegetarian (vegan on request) zero-waste supper club from her home in South East London; it is a perfect example of how supper clubs blur the line between dinner parties and restaurants, with room for just eight guests. There is a welcome cocktail on arrival, but the meal is BYO; expect dishes such as Puchkas (see below for tips!), Doi Begoon (whole smoked aubergines with rhubarb. yoghurt and cumin) and Bhorta (cavolo nero, nigella seed paste & fresh mango kashundi.
Biryani Supper Club
Chef, restaurateur, author, activist and inspirational speaker with a PhD in law and a famously all-female kitchen, Asma Khan is the first British chef to have been profiled on the Netflix series Chef’s Table. She is genuinely warm, champions the power of food as a bridge between cultures, and is a truly formidable force of nature. I’ve included her Biryani Supper Club here even though it is held in her restaurant, Darjeeling Express in Kingly Court, because it began as a supper club in her home over a decade ago and has never lost that core identity. That, and because it is a bucket-list dining experience.
Typically the 7-course menu starts with Dahi Papri and Tangra Prawns (one of my all-time favourite dishes in London) followed by Bhel Puri and delicate Puchkas, wheat shells with spiced chickpea filling served with tamarind water. The trick is to pour some tamarind water into he puchka and pop it in your mouth quickly before it starts to dissolve! Then comes the grand unveiling of the huge pots of lamb biryani, sealed with dough; if you are sitting nearby, the fragrance is amazing. This is served – and regularly replenished – on sharing platters with Mirchi ka Salaan, Beetroot Raita and Tomato Chutney.
Desserts include Khoobani ka Meetha (stewed Hunza apricots garnished with pistachio served with cream), Coconut Ladoo and Bhapa Doi followed by their famous Masala Chai. During the meal Asma will explain the origin of the dishes, come round and chat to the diners and also sign copies of her cookbooks, which are available to buy.
Price: £125.00 per person
Click here for the Darjeeling Express website or follow Asma on Instagram @asmakhanlondon
Cheapo Top Tip: If you go to the Biryani Supper Club, take a tote bag; Asma and the team give out takeaway boxes for the mountains of food left on the table.
SindhiGusto Supper Club
Yet another ex-banker (hmm, it’s almost as if food is more interesting than finance), Sapna Ajwani is passionate about promoting the ancient Sindhi cuisine. It’s not well-represented in London restaurants, so this is a great chance to try something new; Sapna is also working on a cookbook, which should be out soon.
Expect the traditional starter of Sindhi Papad, toasted lentil crisps with black pepper and cumin. Typically there will be a couple of small plates, such as King Prawns with Fresh Fenugreek & Green Garlic, then a main – most recently, Phote Mein Teevan (slow-cooked lamb in a green cardamom and black pepper broth) – served with rice, flatbreads and 2 or 3 sides and followed by a dessert.
Uyen Luu’s Supper Club
Uyen Luu is a food photographer and cookbook author. Supper clubs are held in her studio near Broadway Market in London Fields, decorated with flowers and fairy lights for the occasion. At my recent visit we had ten delicious courses including Prawn Summer Rolls, Chicken Pho and Crispy Roast Pork Belly; that’s incredible value. In true supper club style it has a very relaxed, friendly vibe, plus a hefty dose of East London cool; cookbooks are available to buy and have signed, and Uyen also runs cookery classes.
Price: £55.00 per person
Area: London Fields
Click here for Uyen’s website or follow her on Instagram @loveleluu
10 Miles Club
Friends and fellow foodies Emily Gussin and Sarah Smith’s supper club puts sustainability front and centre by only using produce that can be sourced within a 10-mile radius of the venue (and no, Deliveroo doesn’t count). Apart from the massively reduced carbon footprint, it also means using – and championing – small independent local producers and seasonal produce, and is truly inspirational.
Starting with a welcome cocktail, a recent 4-course menu included Cucumber & Dill Gazpacho with Sourdough Focaccia, Pea & Broad Bean Cavatelli with Ricotta & Nasturtium, ‘Nduja, Kale Pesto & Purple Sprouting Broccoli Tart and a Berry Pavlova with Whey Caramel Cream.
Price: £49.00 per person
BYO: TBC depending on venue
Click here for their website or follow them on Instgram @10milesclub