If there was one thing I’ve neglected in London over the past 12 months – it’s a supperclub. I’ve no real excuse as to why because I used to love them but once again I’m back into it and embracing once again. I personally love a supperclub for many reasons. You have a chance to meet up-and-coming chefs before they’re running a new busy restaurant. Generally eat a substantial food offering for a fraction of the price you would in a normal restaurant environment. And experiencing fusions of cuisines and ingredients that either work or don’t. A supperclub is essentially code-word for guinea pig – trying food and giving feedback, the latter being a chefs ultimate reward as it’s how they grow.
With all that in mind I recently found myself at the wonderful Chakra in Notting Hill for a supperclub hosted by chef Saurav Nath and food & hospitality consultant Humayun Hussain. Combined with an impressive CV and a love for Indian fine dining we set off on a tantalising journey of spice and flavour – along with a little molecular gastronomy. To settle us in and prepare the taste buds we started with an amuse bouche of mulligatawny soup infused with lemon thyme and an Indian version of an arancini rice ball with mint gel in a poppadum cone. The soup was lovely, but the rice ball was even better. Crunchy, soft in the middle and full of flavour.
Second course was one of my favourites, Aloo Papari Chaat. This version contained a mixture of crispy wheat chips, chickpea, yogurt foam, tamarind, coriander jelly, poached banana & blood orange, curry soil and edible flower. Overall I really enjoyed the flavours of this dish, though that being said perhaps it was a little over-complicated for more than it needed to be as it still tasted to me just like a regular (but equally very delicious) chaat.
One thing head chef Saurav Nath doesn’t hold back on is portion sizes. They’re of epic proportions and so come hungry. This supperclub was priced at a bargain £30 and while I was very happy to have enormous plates of food, I’d be just as happy with half. This starter of chicken cafreal was a plate packed full. A mixture of Goan spice & green herb marinated chicken fillet, passion fruit, nargisi kofta & a lovely Malwari paratha with a spoonful of curry sauce for dipping. The chicken was excellent (though I’d have preferred it served hot instead) and the nargisi kofta stole the show (essentially an Indian scotch egg).
Not even onto our main course yet, we delved into our fish course. A 60 degree sous vide cooked line caught Scottish salmon with a smear of squid ink, frozen eggplant puree, lemon gel, samphire fritters & a Koncani coastal fish curry sauce. This was the one dish I really had my critique on. The actual fish was stunning and so was the coastal fish curry sauce. Lemon gel was also nice and so was the squid ink, thought not on the same dish as there was already a lot of flavour going on. The frozen eggplant puree was a nice idea but it was essentially just a frozen cube. Personally I’d remove it completely as there was no need to lower the temperated of the dish, though if determined a granita would suffice. A good dish which with a little more care could be great.
Star dish of the entire meal was this perfectly prepared main course of ‘do tarah ke lamb’. A dish I found out to be a duo of lamb, slow cooked lamb osso buco & lamb cutlet with wilted spinach, green pea puree, potatoes nitrogen and rich lamb jus. The meat was cooked so unbelievable well, falling of the bone from the osso buco and a lovely grilled flavour from the cutlets. Everything about this dish I loved and honestly couldn’t fault.
Dessert was just as successful as our lamb dish and visually it looked stunning too. A garam masala & chilli infused chocolate mousse with poached pears, hot gulab jamun & fine milk soil. It tasted just as good as it looked, I loved the different elements and more importantly everything worked together well on the plate. The meal ended with a glass of warm spicy chai tea.
Reflecting on our meal it was lovely to experience chef Saurav Nath cooking and especially so when he is just starting out his supperclub. As far as supperclubs go this was very successful indeed and I’ve no doubt those kinks and creases will be ironed out along the journey which has only just started. Not to mention a bargain at just £30. Keep an eye out over on Chakra’s social media for when Saurav is next popping up! I know I will be.