I could write about the environment, which was warm and inclusive, and I could write about the cause, which is an excellent one, but for now I’ll stick to the food, which was the real star of last night’s show.
It’s always a challenge when a supper club that started out in someone’s sitting room or kitchen grows out of its original spot and expands into something much bigger. One wonders whether the original spirit of the thing will stay intact. And so it was with the Syrian Supper Club, which has moved from its low-key Shepherds Bush location to a scaled-up monthly version on the premises of E5 Bakehouse in London Fields. Sure it’s bigger, but, based on last night’s experience, it’s also very charming.
Over free-flowing sweet damson cocktails and a mixture of Syrian snacks, friends chatted and new friends were made. On the menu were plates of intensely smokey, creamy aubergine (muttabel), a lightly spicy harissa and carrot dip (jazr wa harissa). A personal highlight was some ever so delicate saffron halloumi fritters (zaafran halloum wa teen) which delivered sweetness, that oddly enjoyable squeaky texture and comfort in one bite. Later a tiny mug of earthy lentil and milk soup was just the thing on a cool autumn evening.
Before dinner huge wheels of layered spiced beef, made with pine nuts and bulghal wheat, known as Kibbeh bil saniyeh, were cut into slices in the back room. Unlike so many horrifyingly greasy versions of kibbeh that I’ve tried, this meat cake was light, moist and intensely flavoursome, and countered well with a beautiful fresh Salatata Bab Salaam salad, made mostly of watercress dressed in mint, sour cream and sumac.
The real treat here was finding those tiny chunks of kohlrabi hiding among the leaves.
Come dessert, bites of bittersweet dark chocolate and marmalade (which is known as Marmalaid and made by the Club’s founders) were handed round, followed by tiny half moon shaped pastries stuffed with cinnamon walnuts and dates, each lifted with a tiny punch of orange blossom. Finally, a beautiful thick log of Halawiyyat – a showstopper meringue roulade incorporating cream, sweet crunch, almonds and damson and rose petals – turned heads.
It should be said that the Syrian Supper Club team now enlist the help of a chef Ruth Quinlan, and it’s clear she has helped them take a menu from being something already rather nice into something incredibly special.
There are still a few tickets remaining for their next Syrian Fundraiser on Thursday 26th November which it promises to be a fantastic evening with great food and all for a wonderful cause.
it’s clear she has helped them take a menu from being something already rather nice into something incredibly special