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The Secret Service Supper Club

If there’s one thing that makes me feel special, it’s attending an event with “Secret Service” in the name. Couple that with “Supper” and I can almost taste the excitement. Clear away that image of James Bond slurping leek and potato soup, this is a new form of pop up restaurant in the foodie city of Bristol!

I’m keen to see how it works, how it compares to eating at a restaurant and what kind of people attend, not to mention what the food is like? It’s Halloween so I whiten my face, apply bags to the eyes, fit some fangs and drive to the top secret location in search of answers. I could tell you where it is, but then I’d have to…ah, you get the idea.

Upon arrival I’m led to a warm and cosy sitting room, handed a chilled Kir Royale and have my first fright of the evening. I’m the only person following the “smart and spooky” dress code. I escape embarrassment by diving into the hors d’oeurves – a delicious duck on crisp bread, anchovy stuffed olives and grissini. No need for grissini fangs tonight, I’m wearing mine already.

Two more guests arrive and after some weird thoughts flying through my head, I realise they’re wearing spooky contact lenses. Phew. I’m not the only one in fancy dress.

Just when the room is filling up and I’m slowly cooking in front of the wood burner, we’re called into the large and airy dining room to begin our first course – French Onion Soup with Gruyere Toasts.

I’m sitting on one of two tables of ten, so it’s a good opportunity to chat to neighbours. It’s attracted a wide range of people from opticians and local radio to journalists and ex chefs. I get the impression that food and the hunt for something new and exciting is pulling us here.

Back to the soup. The strong Gruyere smell wafts up from the bowl. The soup is tasty, light and full of flavour. There’s not loads of it, but with another four courses to come I’m not complaining. I make the most of the bread and salt sprinkled butter and mop up any remains.

The attentive front of house keeps busy refilling our water bottles and clearing our bowls, before serving the next course- Pumpkin Gnocchi with Watercress & Basil. I like this, it’s as good as I’ve made at home and I know the effort which goes into making it. I would love to try the non pumpkin version!

My main course of Organic Beef Bourguignon, Boulanger Potatoes and Purple Sprouting Broccoli is a new experience for me. A shocker, but I’ve never had a beef bourguignon, at least not under that name. The meat is tender and the sauce is tasty. The main thing is it leaves enough room the cheese. There has to be room for cheese. Always.

The cheese has clearly been given a chance to breathe, which is something it deserves. The Somerset Brie is oozing and delicious and the Exmoor Blue is soft and tangy. They both match beautifully with the biscuits and homemade quince jelly. To round it all off there’s a Spiced Pumpkin Brulee. It’s not quite as firm as it should be, but I commend the use of pumpkin – I thought it worked, other’s were a little baffled -  nonetheless it’s a nice, cleansing, end to the meal.

It’s now getting late and my party’s getting tired. I make a dash for the kitchen to thank the organiser Louise, and her three trusty volunteers. They’ve worked hard to make this evening happen, but still have smiles on their faces. They obviously find the whole thing a real buzz.

It’s been a really enjoyable evening. A nice chance to meet other people in an interesting location and most importantly, an opportunity to try a fellow foodie’s creations. It’s nothing like being at a restaurant. At £20 a head and only one or two sittings a month it’s never going to earn a living either. No, this is done for the love of food and creating something new and exciting. I really look forward to seeing what Louise cooks up next, I know she has some big ideas.

Have you attended The Secret Service Supper Club? Do you agree with my review? Let’s hear your views in the comments below.

For more information, or to find out when the next event might be happening visit The Secret Service Supper Club Facebook group.

About Matt

Matt has written 164 posts on this blog.

Hi, I'm Matt, Editor in Chef, here at FFFY. I hope you enjoy our freshly squeezed recipes, news and views!

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4 Comments

  1. I went to it too – but although I liked the idea of it and the concept, I wasn’t sure about the food. And I couldn’t eat the brie so I was a bit sad about that.* One thing to note is that we all had slightly different servings (unlike at a professional restaurant) so where my pumpkin creme brulee was a bit too sweet, someone else’s was too sour. I had loads of rosemary in my onion soup and they had none. You get the idea. But hey, just like eating at someone’s house, I guess.

    It was a fun thing to do, but for me, there was too much pumpkin on the menu. I love gnocci and I love creme brulee but probably without this vegetable addition. Good effort though, and I met some interesting people which was one of the main reasons for going. Woo hoo!

    *it should be noted that my tastebuds have gone a bit strange since getting pregnant, so maybe I’m not the best foodie judge at the moment!

  2. Hi thanks for the review Matt we’re glad you enjoyed yourself.
    Hi to Laura too, and just to reply to your comments. The appearance of so much pumpkin was purely in the name of a little experimental fun for Halloween. Serving a set menu will never allow us to keep everyone happy, but we do try to do our best. The irregularities, I hope, are to do with your hormones (I’ve been pregnant recently myself) as each dish came out of the same pot so to speak – well, the soup was all the same as were the Brulees, other than that I can’t offer any explanation.
    But yes we are a home “restaurant”, opening infrequently and try to focus on really high quality local ingredients, letting them shine through and hope that people come for a new experience, to try some good food and meet some interesting people. We’ll next be opening in December, we’ll let you know when, promise there won’t be sprout Brulee on the menu!

  3. I ate here in December, I loved the idea of it, it strated brilliantly with lovely canapes, a great atmosphere and a nice (but cool) carrot soup. I felt very forgiving about what I felt were small shortcomings, as a cook I know how difficult serving several courses to one big group of people is and the experience was a big part of it for me ( I had great company sitting next to me).

    We were served slow roast pork, served with lentils and red cabbage (all a bit brown-looking), another accompaniment would have drawn attention away from the very tiny portion of dry old pork, there were some seconds but not enough to go round. My partner was outraged, exacerbated by the fact that he found his eating companions a bit irksome. The cheese and biscuits were probably nice but very meagre, so I only got a tiny sliver of one of the cheeses (too busy talking to ask for more).

    The final verdict was that I did enjoy it and would go again whereas my partner drew a negative on both counts.

  4. We got to the SSSC (at last) last weekend
    Good to see how the menu has changed so completely with the seasons
    Pictures here
    http://eatpictures.posterous.com/covert-food-photography-at-the-secret-service

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