Spring had sprung at The Underground Restaurant when I ate there on Friday night. It was a balmy night that felt almost as if Summer might actually occur this year. The 30 odd guests crammed themselves onto the balcony while sipping on Kir Royale champagne cocktails and soaking up the disarmingly good weather. As we chatted we nibbled on “foccacia shots” which were essentially mini foccacia buns topped with sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Salty and sweet at the same time these were deliciously moreish.
The menu on a mirror
The Underground Restaurant is probably London’s best known supper club thanks to hostess Ms Marmite Lover’s larger than life personality and excellent blog which documents her supper club adventures. Once you book (and pay) for dinner over the internet you are sent an email with the secret location of the supper club which is hosted in Ms Marmite Lover’s apartment. There is something brilliant voyeuristic about getting to poke around someone elses apartment even if it does mean getting a severe case of kitchen envy. Let’s just say Ms Marmite Lover does not have a typically sized London kitchen. She even has room for an Aga in there. Whether you love or hate Agas, there is no denying that they are a pretty impressive (and large) piece of kitchen kit.
Squid ink risotto
The look of the supper club is shabby chic with mismatched vintage crockery (which I openly coveted) and old school shallow champagne glasses. The menu for the night is written up on a huge gilt mirror, it is a set menu and wholly vegetarian (actually pescatarian) something some of the other people at our table were not aware of – they kept on waiting for the steak to come out! On our visit it was very much a menu that reflected spring being in the air.
What could be more spring than entree of asparagus? A sharing size platter of spears was topped with mimosa, a creamy, grated egg mixture. For me this was the dish of the night, simple and fresh. Squid ink risotto sounded more exciting than it actually was. While there is a visual thrill of eating anything made with squid ink thanks to its inky blackness, the risotto erred towards blandness with little more than a few tufts of wild garlic to liven it up. The risotto was accompanied by a restrained green salad of pea shoots (which seem to be the ingredient du jour at the moment), rocket and mache. Despite the risotto disappointment my spirits were cheered when I realised that there was both a cheese course and a dessert course. Cheese platters were provided to each table to share amongst themselves in true dinner party style. The selection was from Neals Yard Dairy and somewhere else that Ms Marmite Lover referred to as “a little Italian place”. All good stuff.
Lemon and bergamot posset
To finish things off dessert was a lemon and bergamot posset. The posset was served topped with a sugared sprig of thyme to give it that restaurant quality finish that Ms Marmite Lover does so well from a home kitchen. Bergamot is the flavour found in Earl Grey tea and it is quite a subtle flavour which I think was overwhelmed by the lemon. However that is not to say that the posset was not very tasty. It was both sweet and tart and exactly the sort of dessert you could luxuriate and linger over. Which we did because we were having such a lovely evening and really enjoyed the whole supper club atmosphere. Eventually though we realised we really should leave Ms Marmite Lover to her home and go back to our own homes.
Ms Marmite Lover cooks in heels – very glamorous
Details: Secret Location, North West London. Once you book all is revealed.
Damage: Pricey (£35 per person). The Underground Restaurant is BYO and each bottle is charged £5 corkage.