Eleven98 Supperclub Hackney is a unique dining concept in London and I recently had the pleasure of attending one of their supper clubs. The event was held in collaboration with London Food Link that organises Urban Food Fortnight 2019, which celebrates local growers and producers and support small businesses that showcase ultra-local ingredients. It is a network for people who grow, make, cook, save and simply love to eat good, healthy and sustainable food.
I had attended a similar sustainable, plant-based masterclass in Hackney called Made in Hackney. For this supper club, I was back at my favourite East London venue Hackney Coffee Company, a very Instagrammable cafe/bar that does amazing coffee and cocktails but also hosts amazing supper clubs on select evenings!
Eleven98 Supperclub Hackney is conceived and executed by chef Aidan Brooks, who grew up in Hackney and is a champion for local Hackney produce. Each and every course created on the menu by Aidan is a celebration of the incredible food grown and produced in the London Borough of Hackney and also incorporates meat from the great British Game Season.
We kicked off the evening with a welcome cocktail whilst guests arrived and mingled. It was cheekily called ‘Respect Your Elders’ – Our London Gin, Foraged Elderflower Cordial, Gala Apple Juice. It was refreshing with a hint of kick at the back.
Once seated, we were welcomed, first by Sarah from London Food Link and then with a short introduction by Aidan himself.
Guinea Fowl Croquette with foraged Hawthorne Berry Ketchup
It was a nice and dense little morsel of meat, uniformly textured with a sauce that had a interesting sharpness to it.
Charred brassicas, gochugaru & pine salt
This dish had a good combination of bitterness, acidity and salt. The fermented brassica had been blow-torched to add some smoky bitterness. My favourite element of the dish – the mayonnaise – was made with gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes), which added a lovely kick and pickled radishes from the chef’s own garden. Texturally, it all worked very well and the fermentation came through nicely without being overpowering.
Alongside the food, we were offered some London Fields Seeded Sourdough from The Bread Station and homemade butter from unpasteurized cream from a local farmers market. It was a fantastic start to the evening.
Tartare of venison, crispy rye + elements of celery from the garden
The venison had been sourced from a local butcher in Stoke Newington. Aidan always sources his meat from small independent butchers because why wouldn’t you! The ‘elements’ came in the form of celery leaf oil and celery salt with crushed juniper berries, with the celery having been sourced from his garden again. The accompanying dark rye crisp bread had these tiny little delicious blobs of celery emulsion, all of which added crunch and bite to the soft meaty gathering at the centre of the plate.
Warm pigeon breast, whipped ryefield, rosehip + blackberry
This dish was a shining example of how to source locally. The rosehip as well as the blackberries were foraged from Hackney Marshes. Ryefield is an Northern Irish goat cheese which is light, fresh, and lemony. It was whipped slightly to aerate. The capers made from premature elderberries added the acidity to balance the sweetness from the rosehips. The wild pigeon breast was obtained from the same butcher who supplied the venison.
In terms of taste, the meat was dense but tender, with some resistance on the knife. Pigeon meat is an acquired taste, as it has a texture to it that may not be for everyone but we liked it. The cheese was subtly lovely and the tartness from capers and berries helped balance the flavours on the whole.
Roast partridge, old skool bread sauce, redcurrants & mahonia jelly
My favourite of the game courses was the classic roasted partridge with game jus. The meat was dense and delicious. The bread sauce, made from an old school recipe, was created using bay leaves from Aidan’s own tree, and leftover upcycled and dehydrated bread. It helped bind the dish together and was definitely a lesson in zero waste. The redcurrants added a bit of sharpness. There is also a story behind the Mahonia jelly: it was made from Oregon grapes (aka Mahonia in Latin), of which Aidan found in substantial supply in a Lidl parking lot in Hackney! Overall, a stunningly put together dish.
Sorrel & sour cream
As we transitioned from savoury to sweet, Aidan offered us this stunning palate cleanser. The lemony sorrel helped cut through the fattiness of the previous dishes. There was a sorrel sauce (sour cream aerated with sorrel oil and gently sweetened), with a julienne of sorrel on top. To call it a stunning presentation would be an understatement.
Elderberries from Hackney Marshes, toasted challah & Amanda’s honey
This dish was a tribute to the local Jewish community in Stamford Hill and a play on the classic French Toast. The challah (Jewish bread) had been soaked in custard and then coated in crumbs of toasted trimmings from the challah that had then been mildly sweetened. The puree of elderberries added a bit of bitterness, while the award-winning honey was sourced from Aidan’s mate’s mum. This was quite an abstract dish, with the flavours and textures achieving a delicate balance.
Chocolate Truffles – White Chocolate, Porcini & Truffle Oil
The truffles provided a fitting finish to what was a well thought out and put together supper club with immense hard work behind the scenes.
Eleven98 Supperclub Hackney was a lesson and a true showcase in foraging, growing your own food, intelligent and sustainable sourcing and working with small, independent producers. To think that those lovely ingredients came from Hackney was unbelievable and a real eye-opener. Well done Chef Aidan Brooks!
N.B. I was invited to review the above supper club on behalf of Love Pop Ups London and my meal was complimentary. All photos and opinions are mine.