Like Come Dine With Me… but better.
If you had told me a month ago that we would thoroughly enjoy spending four hours sitting in a room full of strangers in somebody else’s home, we would probably not have believed you.
But that’s exactly what happened when BN1 visited the house of Pot au Feu for their monthly supper club event.
Meaning ‘pot on the fire’, a family-based French dish of beef cuts and vegetables, Pot au Feu launched in Brighton back in December, hosting supper club events designed to take its diners on a culinary journey to that month’s chosen country.
Founders Abigail Signorelli and Martin Hill came up with the idea recently after experiencing supper club dining in London around 15 years ago, noticing a gap in the market in our small, seaside city.
The idea is simple: pay a fixed amount for your seat, and be presented with a vast banquet of authentic dishes amid a thoughtfully decorated space and a welcoming environment that will put your average high street restaurant to shame (the pair both come from food-centred households, with Abigail’s mother hailing from France, and Martin’s Greek family background – so they know hospitality).
Having never experienced a supper club before, we were also pleased to be sent a detailed dossier on what to expect prior to the event, along with an in-depth recommendation guide of which drinks would best compliment the meal – which this month showcased the vibrant flavours of India. As we found out later, they were spot on.
When the night came around, we arrived at the couple’s house in Woodingdean to be welcomed into a bustling room of twelve and hors d’oeuvres already on the table – plus a glass of Prosecco.
With our chefs hard at work in the open kitchen, we conversed with the other diners as we waited, the complex aromas of curries and chutneys filling the room.
It soon became clear that, despite the range of ages, gender and occupations of our fellow dining guests, we already had something in common with the other diners: an unparalleled passion for food.
Before long, it was time to sit down with our starters: vegetable samosas, paneer and vegetable skewers, chicken tikka skewers, lamb kofta and spiced lamb chops.
We should probably point out at this point that Abigail and Mark cook everything on their menus from the bare bones, and it shows, with each bite bursting with fresh flavour.
They’re also not afraid to try unusual recipes you wouldn’t necessarily find in restaurants to showcase the very best of a country’s variety of flavours; for our mains, we were treated to a pig cheek vindaloo, oxtail madras and monkfish curry, each piece of meat falling from the bone and melting in our mouths as though it had been slow cooked for the majority of the day.
These were accompanied with more traditional sides such as tarka daal, aloo gobi and bhindi masala, yet each dish was cooked with panache, each morsel of food more impressive than the last.
The treats were carried through all the way to our puddings, which consisted of traditional Indian ‘sweets’, a mango fruit salad and a saffron and pistachio kulfi, topped with an intricate gold saffron doily.
The end of the meal was signalled with the arrival of the couple’s three cats, Team Cheese – Bertie (Camem-bert), Rocky (Roquefort) and Brie, and a goody bag of spices and ingredients to recreate a dish at home.
It was all in all an incredible evening; think Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me, but with better food, less judging and even more conversation. We highly recommend our readers try the next one.
Pot au Feu’s next event is a Greek Mezze evening on 16 March. Tickets £30 each. For more information visit Pot au Feu.