I've written about supper club a few times. Few because every time one starts, it doesn't last. I've been a part of at least three of four such clubs that never saw anything beyond the second chapter. So, I would not agree to the ad that said, it was the first time something like this was being done in Chennai, but that in no way takes away the beauty of a supper club. First things first - the food cost. So, if you pay Rs. 1500 to a restaurant, about Rs 600-750 goes towards the cost of food. Not the KFC or other QSR, fast food types where it could be a lot lower, but I'm talking about a restaurant. In a supper club/pop up dinners etc, about 70-80% normally goes into the food costs, so there is a real value for money there. Its done by people absolutely passionate about the food, so no chef-by-mistake risks. But there are other risks - unlike a restaurant, if something goes wrong, they are not in a great position to correct stuff, but then anything has risks. Like finding hair in your food in a great restaurant.
Why I absolutely wanted to attend the Supper Club is because I felt they have a real chance of making this work in Chennai. A nice network via the CFG. A lot of chef friends. A lot of amateur chef waiting to make a mark. A lot of passionate foodies with a love for cooking who can showcase their stuff. Why I believe this might work is that instead of trying to make a supper club, this appears to be a platform for supper club. Fingers crossed.
Now, this is how the first event went. A 7 course meal cooked by two chefs who work at Indian Accent, Delhi, touted as the Best Restaurant in India where apparently you need to make a reservation at least 3 days in advance. Chef Vignesh Ramachandran and Chef Tushar Sood.
Tables were set nicely. In the limited space, effort was taken to make it look good. That set the tone. And like any supper club, the company is as important as the food and usually thats what makes it great. Here all of those rules were followed. Out of the 10 people who came, I knew only one other person, so it made for interesting conversation. While we were waiting for the food to start coming, we were served a little amuse-bouche, little balls of deep fried cheese. I didn't have a good feeling about the food when I had fried cheese for amuse-bouche.
The soup that followed erased all such doubts. A fresh watermelon Gazpacho was a great start to the evening. Watermelon 3 ways was the name and it had healthy doses of cheese, watermelon, balsamic balls and of course the Gazpacho. What I absolutely loved was the quantity of gazpacho. It was small, so it didn't feel like soup, but a like a light starter. Light and yummy, it set the tone for the next course. Fruits. Fruits? In a 7 course supper club meal? I started having doubts again, but one bite into the watermelon and the tongue had fizz. Fizz? Fruits and fizz? I thought my tongue was crazy and bit into the grapes. Fizz again. Whoa. The chef came out and explained that they fizzed up the fruits. Loved it and loved the creativity.
Then came the next two courses, one by one of course! Pun intended. A gnocchi that was a stunner. With the right amount of sauce, micro greens and cheese, this was an excellent dish. Though I'm not a big fan (at least not yet) of runny egg yolk, here it was yummy! I guess there is a way to cook (or not cook) the yolk too. This was followed by their take on Fish n Chips. This for me was a miss. Fish n Chips is usually fried right? Here it was baked. And chips? There was no chips, but instead a two little pieces of ready made potato papad. That for me in a supper club is an absolute no-no. The fish tasted great, but the dish a whole was miss for me.
Then two absolute winners. First the perfectly prepared and cooked Quail. Oh my God. With figs and a little potato patty, this was the clear winner and was absolutely yum. This was followed by the lamb with caramelised onions and together it was lip smacking.
And then beetroot for dessert. Beetroot? At best, I thought the way to have beetroot sweet was to make a halwa out of it. This was close. He stuffed sweet beetroot into a puff pasty and plated it with some ice cream and custard. All plated were licked clean!!!
There was service issues, but that is a part of most supper clubs as the tables are not usually manned by professionals. Given the quality of the food and the conversation at the tables, no one really remembered anything about service.
Priced at Rs. 1200 for non veg and Rs. 1100 for vegetarians, I thought this was brilliant. More importantly, I have a gut feeling that this may really take off this time. Might be slow, but may take off. And if it does, that would be amazing to the food scene in Chennai.
One more round of this is happening on the 14th and 15th of this month. You can call 9841445450 if you want to attend one of them.