Wednesday 30 January 2013

The Factory House supperclub - seasonal British fare to share

The Factory House supperclub main course

Since moving to London I'd dined at a series of supperclubs showcasing a whole host of exotic cuisines - ranging from a fiesta of Spanish flavours, to a mouthwatering Mauritian medley, and a treasure trove of Persian delights. But so far I'd never been served sharing portions of traditional British cooking, so I was attracted to the seasonal fare on offer at The Factory House's inaugural supperclub.

Somewhat ironically, the other key concept that appealed to me about this event was the fact that this supperclub was actually being held in a restaurant, with bookings taken for groups of four people. Dining in someone else's home can be a daunting experience (no matter how welcoming they are) and especially when you feel obliged to share your meal with a handful of strangers (albeit fellow food-lovers). So in my view The Factory House's Thursday night set menu is ideal for anyone wishing to take their first foray into the world of supperclubs.

Astonishingly, through the magic of Twitter I was offered a free table at this event; I swear these things never used to happen to me in the dark days before social media! My prize consisted of a three course supper for four people (my guests were the talented duo behind Digest magazine and my ever-patient boyfriend), plus a bottle of rich and fruity 2009 Chateau des Roques Vacqueyras from the Rhone Valley. Altogether this deal would normally cost £100 per table, and considering the quality of the food we enjoyed and the relaxed restaurant setting I think that £25 per person is an absolute steal.

British charcuterie platter at the Factory House

To start we were presented with a generous platter of English charcuterie, including air dried ham from Oxsprings farm in Suffolk, British 'chorizo' and fennel salami from Lanes farm in Suffolk, salt and pepper salami from Islington, and chewy British pork beer sticks with cayenne and chilli. All of my party were impressed that this flavoursome meat had been sourced from the British Isles, and found it impossible to resist nibbling on the moreish slivers.

Artisan bread and butter at The Factory House

Hunks of soft artisan bread and salty butter were offered in addition to the meat platter, just in case any of us fancied knocking up a gourmet sarnie!

Venison casserole at The Factory House supperclub

As I mentioned in last week's "7 things for 7 days" post, the main course of venison casserole was the perfect preparation for the impending snowstorm. This was ideal for sharing and just the sort of comfort food that I like to order when out to dinner; all the joy of home-cooking without any of the hassle (or the washing up!).

The Factory House's venison casserole

The venison shin and leg had been slow-cooked for 5 hours so that it shredded from our forks and practically melted in the mouth. Carrots, celery, thyme, garlic, red wine and venison stock had all been added to the pot and reduced down to a luxurious gravy, which was permeated by the meat's umami essence and I could feel enveloping me like a warm blanket as I eagerly tucked in.

Mashed potato and creamed cabbage at The Factory House

Providing a wonderful contrast to the hearty venison stew were sides dishes of mashed potato and creamed cabbage. The potatoes had clearly been crushed exceptionally well, as their consistency was completely smooth and fluffy.

Creamy cabbage at The Factory House

The sides were brought to the table in pairs of cute oven-proof pots. The portions were ample enough for two people, though I was so enamoured by this creamy cabbage with subtle scents of nutmeg that the only thing preventing me from eating the entire dish was my desire to save some stomach space for dessert!

Pear and apple crumble at The Factory House supperclub

A warming winter meal like this one required a proper pudding for the finale, and I can think of no better choice for a cold night than a classic pear and apple crumble. This was an extra treat for us as crumble is my boyfriend's favourite dessert, and I appreciated the inclusion of sweet seasonal pears as I normally opt for a mixture of sharp apples and juicy berries.

Bowlful of The Factory House's pear and apple crumble

Personally I felt that the apples could have been diced slightly smaller, but the different textures in the filling were pleasant and the oaty topping was delightfully crunchy and caramelised. However, the pièce de résistance in this dish was the accompanying jug of vanilla-flecked crème anglaise, which was so heavenly that I continued to pour myself little spoonfuls of the luscious liquor when we were all incapable of eating any more crumble.

We were the last group of diners to leave The Factory House that evening, which is testament to what a fantastic night we all had. I'd gladly book a table at this supperclub for another Thursday night in future, and am keeping my eyes peeled to see what other British fare is due to be served up sharing-style as the seasons change!

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