This week Fabulous Times Food contributor and owner of Vintage Afternoon Teas Gwyneth shines a light onto some of Manchester’s finest secret dining experiences.
Two years ago you’d have been hard-pressed to find an underground restaurant in Manchester. Well, there was one, but that was about it. Surprising in a way, because although the UK supperclub “movement” was thriving in larger cities like London, secret dining just wasn’t on the foodie menu in Manchester.
Fast forward to 2013 and things seem to be changing, with seven supperclubs or secret tea rooms in Greater Manchester, and counting…If you’re into eating meals around someone’s dining room table and socialising with a bunch of strangers over some rather good food, then supperclubs are for you. Not to be confused with restaurant-based “supperclubs” or “dining clubs” or pop-up restaurants, supperclubs aren’t unprofessional in any sense. Most home supperclubs are insured, many are run as small businesses and sell tickets for their events, although some might ask for cash “donations” to be left on the table at the end of the meal.
The UK supperclub movement was pioneered by Kerstin Rodgers, aka MsMarmitelover, who hosts her own supperclub The Underground Restaurant in London. See below for a link to Kerstin’s website listing supperclubs in the UK and around the globe. Her book “Supper Club: recipes and notes from the underground restaurant (Dec 2011)” is well worth a read, not just for the anecdotes and advice but also for the recipes.Meanwhile our very own pioneer here in Manchester is Monica who, with mum Anita (not to mention the rest of the family), runs The Spice Club, presenting authentic home-cooked Indian cooking in their home in North Manchester one Saturday evening a month. The Spice Club was nominated in the Food Pioneer category of Manchester Food and Drink awards in 2012 for leading the way in underground dining.
If you’ve been to a secret supper in someone’s home before, you’ll know what to expect, if you haven’t, then you can expect an interesting evening. Guests can include couples, pairs of friends, groups, but also solo diners, many of whom combine an interest in food alongside a slight nosiness for the interior of someone else’s house (think “Come Dine with Me” without the rifling of drawers…) and the excitement of trying something a little bit different. The food can be anything from really good home-cooking to unique menus created by professional or semi-professional chefs. You might want to read a blogger’s review first or just dive in. It’s a great way to ,eet people in a new city, even if you’re just visiting. For a list of supperclubs in the UK and across the globe: www.supperclubfangroup.ning.com
Five fabulous secret dining clubs in Manchester:
The Hungry Gecko Dining Club – with food by Jackie Kearney, a top 4 finalist in BBC1’s Masterchef
Menage a Trois – run by the mysterious Lady Nom
Wendy’s House Supper Club – opening soon, with professional chef Wendy Swetnam
Vintage Afternoon Teas (secret tea room) – Fabulous Times very own Gwyneth, of course!
Gwyneth The Fabulous Times Food Contributor