From Txoko to Firebird and Heavensteak - we’ve picked ten of the most exciting supper clubs taking place over the next few months
Supper clubs. Remember them? A few years back we were all to give up on restaurants - with their tasting menus and their clipboard-nazis and their 12.5% discretionary service charge - and instead head into strangers' front rooms to eat game lollipops, down cheap BYO-plonk and discuss seasonality with giddy bloggers and 'food obsessed' accountants for the price of a Metrolink ticket.
Well, turns out they're still going, though now they're leaving their homes in droves (good, was always a bit weird wasn't it?) and setting up in, er, restaurants. Why? Well, there's more space for one, better equipped kitchens too... plus you don't get strangers rifling through your knicker drawer.
If you’ve read Confidential’s recent feature on Manchester's best summer food festivals and events (here), chances are you're getting ready for a whole season of eating and drinking. But if intimate and small scale dining events from a number of talented local amateurs, chefs and market-traders are more your thing, then below you'll find ten of Manchester's best upcoming supper clubs (but do book early - these sell out fast).
Manchester Txoko – 16 May - Squid Ink, Ancoats
A txoko (pronounced Chocko) is an intimate social cooking club which began in the Basque region of Spain, where a group of people (traditionally men only, but many modern ones are all inclusive) get together to cook, chop, chat, eat and socialise.
This idea has been taken up by supper club aficionado Drunken Butcher (aka Iain Devine) who has decided to initiate a series of Manchester events with the hope that this in turn will encourage a spiral of similar, self-managed local events publicised through a central Twitter account. The date, time and location of each will be sent out to those that have subscribed to the Manchester Txoko newsletter.
The inaugural event is to be held at Squid Ink in Ancoats and will be a three course informal collaboration between bloggers Gourmet Gays, Esther Morrison (creator of Stockport’s award-winning Foodie Friday) and Drunken Butcher. It’s a non-profit event so food will be offered at cost price plus a nominal cover charge to go to the host restaurant. Drinks are available to purchase at the venue or BYO for a reasonable corkage fee.
Taste the Love – 22 May - Grays Larder, Chorlton
Sarah Holder is ‘a one woman rocket of love, life and energy on a mission to bring fabulous, flavourful food into your life’. She’s a personal chef who offers a bespoke catering service from intimate dinners, filling freezers with home cooking or providing a full wedding banquet. She also does regular supper clubs based around full flavours and fresh seasonal ingredients made with love. Past events have been at North Star, Proper Tea and Trove.
Sarah hosts a vegan pop-up restaurant on the last Thursday of every month at The Wonder Inn, but her next supper club event will be a kitchen takeover on May 22nd at Gray’s Larder in Chorlton. Three courses start off with prosciutto, grilled lettuce, cucumber and white bean salad; spinach and ricotta in lemon broth; pork cheek with parsley potato cake and finished off with lemon posset.
Tickets are £27.14 (incl booking fee) available here
Firebird Hope - 26 May - West Didsbury
Firebird Hope specialises in cooking free-range, slow-grown, carefully sourced meat, fish and poultry together with local, seasonal ingredients, served alongside carefully crafted cocktails and natural wines. Run by couple Dan Hope and Emma Roberts, this popular secret supper club pops up in various locations across the city about once a month. Events are announced via their Facebook and Twitter accounts and the venue address is revealed to ticket holders just beforehand.
Previous menus include cured trout brandade with spring vegetables, salmon poke and barbecued oxtail sandwich. The date for the next event on May 26 - a collaboration with @Love_and_Labour, who offer ‘concepts with great wine’ - has been announced as being somewhere in West Didsbury.
There will be four sittings. Tickets are £6 to guarantee entry and include a cocktail from their list. Available here
Dan and Rom – 30 May - Grays Larder, Chorlton
Romin Farahani (Hawksmoor, CAU and Jamie's) and Dan Barber (Odd Bar/Blue Pig) both have solid cooking pedigrees. They have recently helped establish the kitchen at West Corner in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, but you can also find them moonlighting at various supper clubs while they’re finalising plans for their first solo venue, which they’ll be opening with front of house force Mike Chung. After this, they will be spending the summer on (as yet) secret collaborations as well as inspirational eating and drinking trips to the Mediterranean and Middle East.
Their Twitter feed is full of delicious dish development images such as their take on Peach Melba which has no less than eleven components. This will be one of the desserts at their next event, which will be at Grays Larder in Chorlton on 30th May. For £25 per head, guests can enjoy an Asian-inspired menu of tuna or black pepper tofu with yuzu and macerated watermelon followed by Mayan glazed pork belly or roasted shitake onion.
For more information or to book, email email@example.com
Holy Crab – 7 June - Trove, Levenshulme
Holy Crab is run by Lou and Hannah, two friends on a mission to bring great seafood - especially crab and oysters - to the North West and make them approachable and fun for everyone. Recently they took over the kitchens at Kosmonaut, serving fish dishes in the basement, but on 7th June they will be putting on a night of seafood and booze at Trove in Levenshulme.
Guests can choose to chuck in a few optional oysters to get them in the mood (3 for £6) or dive straight in to a four course meal of smoked cod; cured salmon with pineapple, fennel and green almonds; squid with preserved lemon ketchup and a sweet and salty crab fritter with brown crab ice cream.
Natural wines and beer will be available to purchase from Trove.
Tickets are £25pp and can be secured with a £5.90 deposit (here) which will come off your bill at the end of the evening.
Heavensteak - 11 June - Palate, Chorlton
This Manchester-based meat delivery company, run by Jade and Jamie Christer, specialises in exotic, ethically sourced meat and excellent steak paired with homemade and organic sauces. They also produce a number of seasonings and rubs designed to work well with meat, fish or vegetables to enhance their flavour in the pan or on the BBQ.
They usually deliver throughout the UK, but are planning to bring their meat to the people in a steak night takeover at Chorlton’s Palate on 11th June. The three course menu is accessible to both the traditional and the more adventurous. Starters include baked black pudding, haggis and mozzarella parcel, or homemade chicken liver pate on toasted brioche. Mains include kangaroo steak with a Cloud Nine red wine sauce; grass fed rump of beef with Blissful Blue peppercorn sauce or Italian water buffalo steak with Chill Bliss bourbon sauce.
Extravagant desserts include The Chocolate Pig infused bacon crepe, traditional crème brulee or a cheese board. Tickets are £25pp. There will be two sittings: from 4-6pm or 6.30-8.30pm.
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MIMOD’s Kitchen - 17 June - Redbank Co, Green Quarter
MIMOD is an acronym for the 'most important meal of the day', and Stephanie Sowden is so passionate about breakfast she doesn’t see why we can’t enjoy it at any time of the day. That’s the reason she bases her London and Manchester supper club menus around ‘brinner’. “Breakfast has become its own cuisine,” says Steph, “Granola isn't just for 8am and eggs can be enjoyed at any time of the day - better if there's a little bit of Prosecco on the side in fact.”
Each event has a particular theme like Classic Brinner or Big New York Breakfast. Past, multi-course menus include sweetcorn fritters topped with curd cheese and pickled fennel, savoury oatmeal with cream cheese, smoked salmon, peas and topped with fresh pea-shoots, or herbed Persian frittata served with toasted walnuts and preserved lemon stewed fava beans.
Her next event is a Summer Brunch at Redbank Co, an archway in Manchester’s Green Quarter, on 17th June. The welcome snacks will be savoury eclairs stuffed with pancetta and marmite aioli. £30 for five courses and welcome drink.
Claire's of Smithfield - 2 July - New Smithfield Market
As well as running a café, serving the workers and buyers of New Smithfield - Manchester's wholesale fruit, vegetable fish and meat market - Claire Woodier also caters small events, from pop-up sit down dinners to wedding buffets. Once or twice a month, she also finds the time to run a supper club.
“Five courses of Masterchef gourmet grub, served in our inimitable style (gobby) under fluorescent lighting. We're showcasing the best produce New Smithfield can provide, and we're doing it with a glass of BYOB wine in our hands,” reads Claire’s website.
The next three have been planned for 2nd July, 30th July and 20th August. There’ll be a welcome chocolate cherryade aperitif, an amuse bouche, soup, a fish course, a meat course and dessert followed by coffee and petit fours – all for £30pp.
Walled Garden underground restaurant – Whalley Range
“The best cooking in Manchester right now”, says Iain ‘Drunken Butcher’ Devine (see Txoko above). That’s quite a bold statement from the card carrying carnivore, as these events involve innovative modern vegetarian tasting menus created by Eddie Shepherd; an award-winning modern vegetarian chef, cookbook author and development chef.
Up to six times per month, Eddie creates twelve vegetarian courses for around eight guests seated around one large communal table at his home. A welcome cocktail will be served on arrival but these are BYOB events. Expect colour changing butterfly tea, grilled lettuce green curry and artichoke, truffle and elderflower smoke amongst other experimental dishes.
All events are booked up till end of June, then Eddie is planning a break over summer, re-starting his supper clubs at the start of September.
Table set for tonight's guests.
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Food Sorcery – Every Friday evening - Didsbury
This Didsbury cookery school opened at the back end of 2016, offering fun, sociable classes and corporate events led by expert chefs and nutritionists. On regular Friday nights, when they’re not booked out for private events, they run an event called 'Cooking Together'. It’s their twist on a Supper Club and they pitch it as an alternative to a restaurant meal. The tickets are £95 for two, sold in pairs, and the focus is as much on learning how to cook as it is on eating.
Guests are asked to arrive at 7.45pm for a canapé and a glass of fizz. A chef then demonstrates how to prepare a starter before guiding the couples (usually a mix of couples, friends and small groups) through making it themselves, before sitting down to eat at a communal table. While they enjoy the first course, everything is tidied away and then main course is demonstrated, cooked and served back to the table to enjoy. The chef makes dessert for all, as by this time, the flow of conversation is full on. The cookery school is fully licensed and they have a fully stocked bar and an excellent wine list.
Headline image credit: Mimod's, Heavensteak, Taste The Love