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words by Fracesca Londono-Brasington

In the last few years, we’ve been undergoing a food revolution like never before and I love it! I was glued to the last series of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ and I always enjoy watching Masterchef. With the increase in cookery programmes it just goes to prove that food is a hot topic right now. Eating out has always been fashionable but recently we’ve seen a backlash against ‘fine dining’ and a move towards trendy pop up restaurants and food festivals focusing on simple ingredients and bold flavours. Coinciding with this more casual approach to dining, supper clubs have become a huge trend; especially in London. I’ve been fascinated by this trend and as a health conscious, food lover I thought I’d undertake a mission to find supper clubs with a difference; ones with a health inspired element. So, after having eaten my way around London and sampled some delicious tasting food; here are my recommendations:

Gluten Free Rosie

The Menu:

Something from the Garden: ‘Root to Longevity’ Beetroot, Basil, Orange and Gin Cocktail

Something baked: Cumin and Coriander Soda Bread with Smoked Mackerel Pate and Gazpacho

Something Slow Roasted: Asian Style Pork Shoulder with Sweet Potato Quinoa and Asian Slaw

Something Raw: Raspberry Cashew Cheesecake with Berry Coulis

Something for Breakfast: Almond Nut Butter

Gluten Free Rosie is a supper club set up by Rosie who’s a coeliac training to be a dietitian and her artist friend Domenica, both of whom are passionate cooks and food lovers.  As Rosie is a coeliac her menu is all gluten free and on top of this, it is also diary and incredibly sugar free.  I was lucky enough to sample this supper club on its opening night and was thoroughly impressed!  Rosie and Domenica host in Domencia’s beautifully quirky home in Sydenham and we were greeted on arrival with the incredible beetroot cocktail, I’ve never tasted anything like it, a combination of a healthy vegetable juice with the all important alcoholic component of gin – divine!  We sipped these sitting on Domenica’s roof terrace with a musician softly playing his guitar in the background; a perfect way to begin the evening.

Everything was beautifully and simply presented and the food was absolutely delicious!  The mackerel pate was so tasty and accompanied by the soda bread could have made for a lovely light meal in itself.  The pork was tender and perfectly cooked and I couldn’t believe the cheesecake was sugar free, it was the best cheese cake I’ve ever had! I would thoroughly recommend Gluten Free Rosie’s supper club to all health conscious foodies; an evening eating delicious food in a relaxed environment with like minded people doesn’t get much better!

*Gluten Free Rosie has since changed its name and location to The Camberwell Kitchen but the concept and ethos of the supperclub is still the same. http://glutenfreerosie.com/the-camberwell-kitchen-supper-club/

Madeleine Shaw Supper Club

The Menu:

On entry you will be greeted with a healthy cocktail made of the purest ingredients (sugar and gluten free)

– Either a coconut cocktail (made with vitacoco coconut water)

– OR a middle eastern spiced almond milk concoction (think espresso martini creaminess)

Mains will a series of mezze (sugar free, gluten free, dairy free):

1. Lamb koftas rapped in zucchini strips

2. Spiced chicken kebabs

3. Coconut flour tortillas/flat bread

4. Cauliflower Couscous

5. Hummus

6. Home made Harissa sauce

Dessert: Honey Pear Almond Cakes with cardamom custard (dairy free) and fresh berries

Madeline Shaw is a trained nutritionist who fell in love with healthy eating whilst working in an organic café in Sydney.  The produce she uses for her supper clubs are all organic, free range, gluten and grain free, healthy and delicious. I was really excited by her menu which sounded scrumptious!  Madeline hosted her supper club at Boma Green Restaurant in Parsons Green, a really lovely relaxed restaurant. The evening started off with a coconut based cocktail which despite the alcohol tasted fresh and clean and went down very easily!  Once seated, we went straight into the main course (there weren’t starters) and my friend and I shared the lamb koftas and chicken kebabs which were delicious with a homemade feel. Amazingly even the pudding was sugar-free and the accompanying custard was sweet and light – much nicer than conventional custard.  http://madeleineshaw.com/

Asparagasm

Menu:

Salt baked potato with beer braised white beans and fennel salad

Broccoli soup with mushroom crostini and pickled cabbage

dressing

Plum, black pepper and red wine granita

Apple and cinnamon cake with lemon jelly

Featuring guest chef: Fredrik Bolin
Disappearing Dining Club co-founder and Head Chef Fredrik Bolin is formerly of Michelin-starred Erik’s, Paul & Norbert (Stockholm), Zefferano & Glasshouse (London), and Ulrika’s (New York). Asparagasm is a vegan based supper club and founder Kate Lewis really managed to transform my view of veganism as this really was a thoroughly entertaining evening!  Even from viewing the website and their brilliant logo it was apparent Asparagasm was unlike any other vegan supperclub and I was immediately intrigued.

The Old Shoe Factory in Hackney made for a fantastically quirky venue which was beautifully decorated to create a wonderous almost magical atmosphere.  Adding to this was the ‘gypsy esque’ theme – the staff were dressed up and offered tarot card readings plus the brilliant Max Pashm Band with their gypsy swing music played throughout. The menu itself all centred around the potato – I was amazed at how many different things you can do with the simple spud and each course tasted different from the rest.  Presentation was top notch and it was all incredibly tasty and even as a meat lover, I didn’t feel I was missing out. All in all, it was a lively night with an emphasis on fun and enjoying great food with great people, thoroughly recommend! http://asparagasm.com/

Supernourished

A lovely idea from founder Jayne Totty who runs a monthly supper club or ‘cook your own supperclub’ as Jayne likes to phrase it!  The idea is to bring people together to learn how to cook seasonal, healthy food in a relaxed environment and then to sit down to eat afterwards.  Jayne devises a theme (I attended an Italian themed evening) and a menu which is vegetarian, gluten, wheat and dairy free.  We split into pairs and each pair was responsible for cooking one part of the meal.  I opted for the gluten free pasta; something I wouldn’t normally endeavour to cook but it was great fun and a really relaxed and casual approach to cooking.   Afterwards we all sat down to eat together and marvel at what we’d manage to rustle up! www.supernourished.com

L’Atelier Des Chefs

Strictly speaking not a supper club but it’s a definite must on my list. L’Atelier Des Chefs is a cookery school based in central London with a wide range of different classes.  The idea is you all cook together and then sit down to eat together afterwards.  There is also a bar if you fancy a glass of wine.  Recently they ran a class called ‘Lighten Up Your Meals’ for the health conscious which they’ll be running again in the New Year.  However I went to one of their ‘Cook, Eat & Run’ classes which lasts for 30minutes – perfect for after work.  We made a simple prawn curry with fresh, healthy ingredients.

The class is based in a professional kitchen set up with individual stations and a chef to guide you through the process offering top tips throughout.  The running of the class was seamless, the staff and chefs were all incredibly friendly and helpful. I think this was one of the most enjoyable cookery classes I’ve ever attended and I’ll certainly be back to try out more! http://www.atelierdeschefs.co.uk/

Retreat Cafe

Set in Parsons Green above The Power Yoga Company, Retreat Cafe by day is a delicious healthy cafe packed full of nutritious salads and with an array of insanely wonderful juices and smoothies on it’s menu (look out for the Hip & Healthy!). By night, the owner of the cafe, Kim, turns her hand to preparing a scrumptious feast of  healthy fare for up to 14 people. This particular evening was themed Christmas and kicked off with a warming non-alcoholic “mulled wine” made with cranberry juice, orange and cloves. It tasted so similar to the real thing that I don’t think even Santa himself would have been able to taste the difference. Then onto the nibbles; thinly sliced courgette wrapped around pepper and  vegan green and red “pesto” and chicory leaves with vegan toppings were passed around in abundance. Then onto the starter –  an avocado, apple and beetroot tartare with a pea pureé, which was light but creamy. For the main we had a hearty root vegetable Christmas stew with stuffing topping – the dish just tasted of Christmas day. It was amazing. And there was also a side of finely chopped greens tabouleh with pomegranate. And for the pudding? A sweet christmas tree made with dried fruit and match infused desiccated coconut and a chocolate macaroon with hazelnut cream! And a gingerbread smoothie to finish! What scrumptiousness! £30. http://www.retreatcafe.com

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