Disappearing Dining Club – Back in 5 Minutes

A few weeks ago I discovered the Disappearing Dining Club thanks to a blog post on A Southern Belle in London blog and I was instantly intrigued by it.

DDC is an events company that "brings like-minded people together to enjoy great food, drink and good company in reclaimed or unusual private spaces". As well as hosting dinners and events in and around London, they have also launched Back in 5 Minutes, a permanent restaurant hidden behind a designer clothes shop on Brick Lane.

Every Wednesday they host a Dinner Club, with 30 seats around three tables, for "family style, get-to-know-your-neighbours dining". I thought it would be fun to try it out with my Blog 'n' Bake friends and so that's where we all had dinner last night.

Disappearing Dining Club - Back in 5 Minutes
Disappearing Dining Club - Back in 5 Minutes
Disappearing Dining Club - Back in 5 Minutes

The doors open at 7pm: you walk in a clothing store and through black curtains to enter a low-lit room with grey walls and vintage furniture. As a group of seven people, we occupied most of the table and kept the conversation to ourselves, but I'd imagine that if you were going as a couple you would end up chatting to strangers and get to know your neighbours.

A welcome Grey Goose Le Fizz drink is served on arrival (a mix of elderflower, fresh lime and Grey Goose vodka with chilled soda) and dinner starts around 7:30/8:00pm. There were two waitresses taking orders for drinks and making sure all dietary requirements were taken care of (we had two vegetarians in our group).

We decided to share a bottle of house red wine and my task was to distribute it evenly between 7 glasses. The pressure was high, but I think I did a good job! ;)

Disappearing Dining Club - Back in 5 Minutes
Disappearing Dining Club - Back in 5 Minutes
Disappearing Dining Club - Back in 5 Minutes

There is one three-course menu for all diners (starter, main course and dessert), which changes weekly and features familiar British dishes such as Braised Lamb Shoulder, Confit Duck or Slow Roasted Pork Neck.

The starter was a tray of Potted Meats & Fish with Homemade Pickles and Sourdough Bread. They didn't serve a different starter for vegetarians, but luckily my husband and Hannah's sister can eat fish occasionally, so they could eat the potted salmon.

We all loved the starters – in particular I thought the pork and salmon were both delicious.

Disappearing Dining Club - Back in 5 Minutes
Disappearing Dining Club - Back in 5 Minutes

The main course was Slow Roast Pork Belly with Roasted New Potatoes and White Beans. I don't eat pork belly often (I also always remove the skin and fat…) and I am not an expert, but I did enjoy this dish very much. The meat was tasty and the white beans were cooked in a delicious cream.

Two trays of food were served to share between ten diners at our table: a big slice of pork belly each and enough beans and potatoes to share.

Disappearing Dining Club - Back in 5 Minutes
Disappearing Dining Club - Back in 5 Minutes
Disappearing Dining Club - Back in 5 Minutes
Disappearing Dining Club - Back in 5 Minutes

I was not impressed by the vegetarian option as it consisted of only roasted potatoes and brown beans cooked in tomato sauce. It wasn't very imaginative or good value for money compared to the meat course.

There was plenty of Apple & Blackberry Crumble to fill our bellies, served with a lovely Swedish Custard. Both were served cold, unlike traditional crumbles which are served piping hot. I didn't mind, actually I was happy to be able to tuck into my portion without having to wait for the food to cool down! (I always burn my tongue when eating apple crumble, fact!)

Not all my friends loved the dessert, but I liked it enough to take a second helping with a big dollop of custard on top!

Disappearing Dining Club - Back in 5 Minutes
Disappearing Dining Club - Back in 5 Minutes

Overall I thought Back in 5 Minutes was a nice place to visit for a dinner out with friends: the room is intimate and cozy and you feel like being in somebody's living room, rather than in a restaurant.

But I was expecting it to be more like a dining club or a supperclub, perhaps with the DDC team presenting the menu and walking around the tables to chat with the guests. This would have created a more personal and special experience. I realize now that this is not what Back in 5 Minutes is about, so it was simply a case of wrong expectations on my side.

In my personal opinion, Back in 5 Minutes is a great concept, deployed in style in a lovely location and with good food. But it does have a few short-comings: mainly the price (it's not cheap when you add up £30 for food, £5 for a glass of wine and 12.5% service charge and definitely not good value for vegetarians) and the service, which wasn't very friendly or accommodating.

I don't see myself going back, as I think there's better food to be had in London, but I would recommend it if you are looking for an unusual dining experience in a quirky space.

Roman Supper Club

Life has been very busy lately here at Mondomulia, what with attending foodie events, visiting food markets, trying out London restaurants and cafés and testing out new recipes at home! Not to mention, organising two weddings, looking for a new home, participating in running races and, of course, having a full-time job as advertising account manager!

Oh well, I cannot complain, as this is a very exciting time of my life and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for me! Photographing and blogging are stimulating my creativity so much, as well as giving me the opportunity to meet many talented people!

One thing I discovered thanks to my blog, is the “underground world” of supper clubs! I wasn’t convinced at first, but I kept reading positive reviews and curiosity won me over. As you know, I attended Yummy Choo Eats Mauritian Supper Club last month, which didn’t disappoint, and convinced me to attend other clubs!

On Twitter I came to know about the Back Door Kitchen, an Italian duo formed by Roberto (the chef) and Fabio (the photographer) organizing themed supper clubs every month. Among their past events there have been Spanish Tapas dinners and Italian food and wine tastings.

Their next event was a Roman Supper Club; one quick look at the menu and I decided to book the ticket! I was born in the “eternal city” and lived there for 25 years, yet I am not an expert of Roman cuisine. My mum is not originally from Rome and I grew up eating dishes from her hometown Trieste, so I was very curious to taste a Roman menu. Besides, at £25 for a starter, two first courses, three second courses and one dessert, this supper club was a great deal that I simply couldn’t miss!

My fiancé decided not to come, because most of the menu included meat or fish, but actually there was a vegetarian at the dinner, who had a special menu prepared for her – so if you are vegetarian or vegan and feel that this is precluding you from attending a supper club, it’s worth asking the chef first if they can adjust the menu for you! :)

Three of my Italian friends decided to join so it became even more of an Italian night! Fabio, Roberto and Assunta (who has been helping out the Back Door Kitchen team for a few months) greeted us at the door with a complimentary glass of Prosecco. All the other guests had already arrived, in true Italian style we were the last ones to arrive (and also bit late, ooops)!

We started with Carciofi alla Giudìa con crema Cacio e Pepe (deep-fried artichokes with a cream made from traditional Roman cheeses). The fried artichoke is one of the most famous dishes of the Roman Jewish cuisine, while “cacio e pepe” is traditionally a condiment for pasta made of Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper. Roberto merged together the two recipes and added a “cacio e pepe” sauce to the artichokes, which worked out wonderfully.

We then tasted the 1st of the main courses – my favourite dish of the night – Gricia con cipolle caramellate. Roberto made the fettuccine and served them with “guanciale” (Roman pancetta), caramelised red onions and Pecorino Romano cheese. The pasta was cooked “al dente”, which is how the Romans like it! A simple dish without overpowering flavours: just a few good ingredients that work perfectly together.

The 2nd pasta was Gnocchi alla Carbonara di Zucchine (homemade potato and flour gnocchi with a courgette carbonara sauce and saffron). Again, carbonara is a typical dish of the Roman cuisine, which Roberto has re-invented with courgettes (replacing pancetta) and a hint of saffron. I was very impressed that he made the gnocchi, something I’ve only ever seen my grandma doing! Roberto’s gnocchi were big and he makes them this way to hold the cooking better and remain thick (and they don’t crumble in the boiling water).

Italian lunches have several courses and can go on for 4-5 hours, something that fills my Indian fiancé with dread every time! The Back Door Kitchen supper club was true to traditions and lasted more than 4 hours! This is because Roberto cooked everything on the night, to ensure the food was well cooked and hot. As the supper club started at 20:30, we only finished eating after midnight, with some of the guests having to leave for fear of missing the last train home.

As a second course, we had three tastings: Saltimbocca alla Romana; Seppioline ripiene di broccoli ripassati e crema al nero di seppia; Baccalà con crema di ceci, rosmarino e pancetta.

The “saltimbocca alla Romana” are chicken breasts cooked in a white wine sauce with Italian cured ham, mature cheddar and sage. They were my second favourite of the night: the ham wrapped around the chicken makes it very tasty, while the white wine, cheese and sage add extra flavours.

The second tasting was char-grilled squid stuffed with broccoli sautéed with garlic and chilli and a sprinkle of homemade squid ink sauce on top. I don’t like squid very much, but this combination which broccoli cooked with garlic and chilli, which I love, worked well. Another original and successful pairing was the salted cod with chickpea cream, rosemary emulsion, crispy pancetta and toasted bread. it made you want to dip the bread into the cream (aka. fare la scarpetta)!

As usual, I am not satisfied until I eat the dessert, so I was very happy when finally the time came to taste the Crostata con marmellata di arance e limoni, a tart of homemade orange and lemon marmalade. Sweet and sour flavours combined with a buttery and crunchy base, it was so good I helped myself to a second slice!

Such a long and filling meal called for espresso, never mind that it was almost 1am! A good caffè (and ammazzacaffè) is required at the end of a good dinner. And anyway, I needed it to stay awake during the long journey home on London’s night buses! It was a late night, but it was so worth it! I had amazing food, made new friends and, for one night, lived a true Roman experience!

Don’t miss the Back Door Kitchen Food and Wine Pairing event on Sunday 22nd of April.

Read more about The Regional Cuisines Series - Rome on Edible Experiences

Mauritian Supper Club

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Selina’s, aka Yummy Choo Eats, first Mauritian Supper Club. Hosted in Selina’s house in Croydon, the supper club consisted of starters, main dishes and a dessert, all made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. With the help of ‘Mama Choo’, she put together a fantastic 3 course dinner that left us full and satisfied.

We had a small food bloggers meet-up as Sela of Chocolate Walks, Katy of Feel Good Food Book and Laura of The Writing Type were also there. With a total of twelve diners, plus Selina’s husband, mum and in-laws, it felt more like a big family reunion and there was a lovely and warm atmosphere!

We arrived at the dinner just after 7pm and had the time for a rum cocktail before sitting down for dinner. The starters consisted in crispy Chilli Cakes (Gateaux Piment) and Aubergine Fritters (Gateau Bringele), some aromatic Coriander Chutney and a fresh Cucumber Salad.

The main course was impressive – I was glad that I had eaten very little all day and prepared my stomach for this beautiful feast!

The cuisine of Mauritius is a blend of Creole, Chinese, European and Indian influences. As a main course we had Chicken curry (Cari Poulet), Potato and Butterbean curry (Grois Pois), Tomato Chutney (Rougaille) and lentil flat bread (Dhall Pouri) – though they might be inspired by Southern Indian cuisine, the Mauritian recipes have their own distinctive flavours and taste – more delicate and sweet.

Also the way of eating the bread is very different from India, as we were told to make a wrap with it, rather than dip pieces in the curry.

As part of the main course, we also tried an exotic vegetable named Chou Chou, a coconut paste (Chatini Coco), pilau rice and pickles.

I always look forward to the dessert and I was very pleased with my generous slice of Polenta Cake (Pudine Mais). A hot cup of chai at the end of the meal was exactly what I needed.

Yummy Choo Eats’ Supper Club was my first encounter with Mauritian culture and it is clear that food is an important part of it. I wish Selina a great success in promoting Mauritian cuisine in London, this dinner was certainly a great start!

If you’re also a fan of Selina’s blog, vote for her here!

Edible Experiences

The Breakfast Club

Oh, how I wish I could celebrate Thanksgiving! It’s such a nice tradition! Of course, every holiday that involves cooking and eating large amounts of comfort food is worth celebrating, isn’t it?!

This year I discovered that many London restaurants were offering a special Thanksgiving menu. So I’ve started selling the idea to my friends and, to be honest, it wasn’t very hard!

I chose The Breakfast Club, because I have been meaning to go there for years and their set menu seemed big enough (starter, main, dessert) and reasonably priced (£25).

I was worried the portions might be small, but on the contrary everything was served in such abundance that we all had leftovers in our plates!  The turkey was tasty and there were many vegetables to choose from! I personally loved the corn bread, it tasted like cake!
Hot apple cider was also part of the offer!
The end: pecan pie & ice-cream! It was great!
Negative comments about The Breakfast Club (Hoxton): it was very loud and; the music selection (electro) was not appropriate for a festive night and definitely off topic. The table was too small for 6 people: I was sitting at the head of the table and I pretty much couldn’t move my legs in the tiny space I had! Finally, the chairs are uncomfortable, but I guess they are supposed to create that “high school” look, so I will forgive them for it!
I also wish they had espresso cups! Serving espresso in a water glass is #fail!
My vote: 35/50
  • Food: 8/10
  • Drinks: 5/10
  • Ambience: 6/10
  • Location: 9/10
  • Value: 7/10
*All photos taken with Instagram on iPhone 4s.