We have been to a few supper clubs over the years, some good, some very bad. The first hurdle that is necessary to overcome at such an event is to break the ice with fellow guests. After having sat through a fair few awkward moments in the past, the anticipation of being seated next to complete strangers always makes me slightly nervous. Being in someone else’s house and having to witness their personal artefacts has also been an issue in the past – who wants to see a bottle of femfresh on the side of the bath of someone you don’t know?!
But last weekend Jack and I were introduced to a new (to us) supper club concept. The Novel Diner is the brainchild of food and arts writer Mina Holland and events organiser Claire Coutinho. Each evening is held at a different restaurant or venue around London and is themed on a well known novel. Diners are encouraged to dress up to reflect the period in which the novel is set while enjoying an extensive menu of delicious food, all cooked by Mina and Claire.
The novel for our evening was In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. The menu consisted of truffled asparagus velouté, chicken liver parfait, fried sole with potatoes and green salad, followed by an Époisses and Comté cheeseboard, home made chocolate truffles by ‘I Love Brigadeiros’ and mini Marcel’s Madeleines with tea or coffee to finish.
Upon arrival we were treated to live music from a cellist and violinist and an absinthe cocktail, which consisted of absinthe, water and fresh lemon. Delicious! We sipped our cocktails as we waited the arrival of diners before being seated at a long communal table.
The food was quick to arrive and conversation started to flow. As is often the way at these events, when you put 30 strangers in the same room with not much elbow space, conversation is slow off the mark. But the mood quickly changed after a misunderstanding about Zooey Deschanel’s nicely kept ‘F-ringe’ and we were off. The rest of the evening consisted of raucous laughter, numerous jokes and good food.
The hi light of the evening was the pan fried bass with crisp, fluffy roast potatoes and a sorrel salad. The velvety smooth chicken liver parfait was rich and incredibly delicious smothered on crusty white bread. The choice of cheese on the cheese board was commended and within a few minutes the boards were empty. But somehow everyone had room for the condensed milk truffles and buttery Madeleines to finish. I enjoyed mine dipped into a pool of steaming hot tea.
As we neared the end of our meal, the music started up again and a few of us agreed that we felt like we were sailing on the Titanic. Surreal conversation matched with period outfits and classical music all contributed to an air of nostalgia wafting through the room. We knew it was time to gather our belongings and run for the last tube when one of the guests that was sat at the opposite side of the table unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a tattoo of a naked woman, which seemed to share said guests left nipple. Incredible. The Novel Diner was exciting, new, fresh, creative and most of all, extremely fun. We can’t wait to hear what lies in store for the next evening.
The Novel Diner