The trend for supper clubs in the UK shows no sign of waning, not least in the friendly city of Bath, where variations on the concept make for unique dining experiences loved by locals and visitors alike. Whether the setting is opulent Georgian splendour or neighbourhood cafés who only open their doors on select evenings, time and again supper clubs prove the ideal way to dine in an atmosphere led by charming hosts eager to share their own style of food and hospitality; a world away from soulless chain restaurants and an antidote to a bland food culture so many of us are seeking to escape.
An award-winning Vietnamse restaurant which started out just serving lunch, demand for Noya’s food has blossomed into a consistently sold-out series of supper clubs and cookery courses; securing her as the queen of authentic, home-cooked Asian food in this foodie corner of the South West. Whether you prefer to share the experience with friends in a dinner-party-style setting, or wallow in the cosy atmosphere with a table for two, the ambiance is one of delight and wonder.
On our evening, the surprise five-course menu (never announced at the time of booking) commenced with a summer roll of fresh herbs and vegetables, a steamed water chestnut dumpling, and a crispy fried butternut and stem ginger dumpling with home-made chilli jam; a trio showcasing Noya’s extraordinary ability to take diners on a journey in just a few bites. Course after course confirmed this, from a vibrant chicken salad with crushed sesame rice crackers, lemongrass, chili and lime, to a noodle dish with tender five spice pork, spring roll and pickled carrot, along with a broth with which to douse everything. As Noya announced with glee, ‘Slurp it up, that’s the only way to eat this one!’
Noya’s mum’s chicken curry, back by popular demand so she tells us with pride, was up next and didn’t disappoint; creamy and exotic, with sweet and salty flavours layered alongside piquant notes of coconut and lime leaf. Served with jasmine rice in a bowl, it’s the kind of dish that makes you want to come here every week. The dessert of chocolate brownie was an equally comforting finale, contrasted with a mango ice cream, passion fruit sauce and pomegranate seeds. Achieving incredible attention to detail and high impact food in a ridiculously small basement kitchen, Noya’s soulful desire to introduce Bath to her culinary heritage makes for one of the most memorable dining experiences in the city – or anywhere else for that matter. Heart-warming stuff.
Noya’s Kitchen, 7 St James’s Parade, Bath BA1 1UL. For more information and reservations please visit the website.
Always Sunday House
Founded by the vivacious Lexi Learmond, her splendid Bathwick Hill Georgian residence is worthy of a ticket simply for being able to take a look inside. A wonderland of art and creativity, with much on display available to purchase, including some of her own paintings, it certainly adds to the fun of dining when you can go home with the crockery! Driven by a passion to share her sumptuous abode, Always Sunday House events range from pottery, life drawing, floristry and yoga workshops, to glamorous cocktail parties and wine tastings.
With the emphasis on multi-sensorial dining, thoughtful, seasonally-themed candlelit supper club evenings meanwhile unite a carefully curated team of collaborators including Blomme Florist (who really go to town with the table arrangements), to renowned guest chefs and musicians; ensuring that, regardless of how many times you venture here, each event will be exquisitely unique, not least due to the ever-interesting mix of attendees, drawn to celebrate Bath’s creative underworld in a relaxed, yet spectacular environment.
Attending the ‘Seasonal Spice Supper Club’, which kicked off the change of weather with a heady ‘welcome imbibement’ of Always Sunday gin, hibiscus, rosemary and grapefruit, this was merely a palate wake-up for what turned out to be an enlightening evening of cuisine. Guest chef Micah Edelstein, whose South African heritage and extensive travels have influenced her wonderfully eclectic approach to cookery techniques, ingredients and flavour combinations, started the proceedings with focaccia canapes featuring a cheese lovers’ duo of caramelised shallot, black lava salt, mascapone, alongside a delectable garden grape topping with almonds and Gorgonzola.
After being serenaded by talented Bath-based singer and songwriter Harry Miller in the drawing room, which also offered guests a chance to mingle, we took our seats banquet-style, complete with a suitably grand autumnal floral arrangement running the length of the table (both on and above). Conversation came to a momentary halt as we delighted in Edelstein’s ‘Adieu to Summer Soup’ of fire roasted corn, with a sage, olive oil and black pepper gelato, while the main was something of a tease; being easy to mistake the ‘Asia Brunches’ dish to be that of a juicy fillet steak. In fact it was an ingeniously shaped slow-cooked aubergine with crispy rice, chive fire, sabzi seed (I’ve never heard of it either), 7-spice and grapefruit hollandaise. Words cannot describe.
This mind-boggling, tongue-tantalising vegetarian meal, the likes of which I have never tasted before and probably never shall again, went out on a bang with ‘Garden Raid Torte’, an innovative cross between a dessert and a cheese course; buttery pastry filled with Lexi’s own English apples, mature cheddar and candied rosemary, served with a vanilla bean crema and burnt sugar piri piri salted caramel. The selected wine pairings, including a fine Pinot Noir, were a must, while the success of the evening can surely be judged on the diners’ disinclination to leave.
For more information on forthcoming Always Sunday House events please visit the website.
The Second Breakfast Club
Founded by passionate foodies Bella and Connor, who met whilst trying to handle the stress of events and catering, and did so by fantasising about hosting their own pop-up restaurant, The Second Breakfast Club is a monthly, seasonally-inspired brunch club featuring the finest locally-sourced producers. The fact that unlimited amounts of Bath-based Colombian Coffee is included in the ticket price makes it worth getting out of bed for alone.
Taking place in the library-inspired upstairs of The Curfew pub, seating a maximum of 24 diners, the tone is relaxed and buzzy; no doubt fuelled by said coffee and a cheeky Bloody Mary or Mimosa. My kind of elevenses. Fear not, the generous helping of bread will soak it up. Connor, who works at The Hare and Hounds in Bath, is in charge of the kitchen, while Bella is a charming hostess, who looks enviously like ‘a morning person’, something she vigorously denies.
I soon forgot that it was unusual to be eating a buttery, flaky cheese straw filled with home-made chilli and cardamom jam at 10.45am on a Saturday morning, nor would I think twice about doing so again. A refreshing mackerel ceviche with papaya and pomegranate salsa followed, while the ale-braised pork cheek, celeriac and Merry Wyfe of Bath cheese croquette main, with shallots and a quince ketchup was truly inspired. As you couldn’t possibly have brunch without an egg, Connor devised a dish to challenge our preconceptions – a slow-cooked 63 degree version with truffled mushroom Hollandaise, tomato concasse and crispy potato noodles. No, it’s not the kind of breakfast you’re likely to knock together at home.
Finally, to celebrate the phenomenal loaves supplied by The Warmley Bakehouse, and The Leafy Tea Company’s ethically sourced tea, a hearty portion of Early Grey bread pudding was partnered with dehydrated apple and a set rosemary custard. More than justifying going back to bed when you get home. You can even purchase a loaf to take with you, along with the fabulous tea and coffee. Despite only running one event per month, Bella and Connor have a regular foodie following who appreciate the couple’s labour of love and lend the atmosphere a warm, clubby feel. A great way for mums and daughters, couples, and girlfriends (as in my case) to catch up and forget the stresses of the previous week. Menus, personalised by Bella with each guest’s name in calligraphy, is a lovely touch which doubles as a souvenir.
For more information on forthcoming Second Breakfast Club events please visit the website.