I've been to a few supper clubs in Edinburgh and while they've all been a bit different, with their own quirks and personalities, they could all ultimately be summed up as "a nice dinner in a nice house". That's not to say the Edinburgh supper club is a boring or formulaic experience, far from it, I keep going to them because I love the sense of the unknown, the taste of adventure (once I got a bus!), the unforeseen alchemy of what happens when strangers get together in the intimacy of someone else's home. I've also had some great food, most of which was better value than a lot of restaurants I've visited. And I've had some great conversations, some awkward ones, and plenty of just plain weird. It's all been part of the experience and one I'm still eager to continue to try.
This time though I was leaving the city behind for the evening. We were attending East Lothian's first Supper Club, on a farm near Longniddry, a short journey outside of Edinburgh. Not far on a map, far enough to get utterly lost without said map and directions in the event - entirely my fault to forget these. As I drove around and around a dark landscape of flat fields and no sign posts we were getting embarrassingly late. Then it started to snow... adventure, I reminded myself, this is more exciting than catching the No.23 armed with only a wad of cash and a large bag from Oddbins.
Luckily we pieced together our memory of how to get there and eventually found our hosts' home. Outside of the city and you really notice the darkness, the cold, the quiet. As we parked up and struggled on the gravel we could have been 200 miles away not 20! Our hosts William and Anna live on their family farm, the farmhouse recently renovated and decorated with the potential to run a B&B, supper club and other projects including Scottish flour from their own fields. Their plan is to provide a farmhouse dinner experience of good home cooking and local ingredients, cooked honestly and without pretention.
|Our table for the evening|
The table was laid out with crisp linen and slate place settings in the older part of the farmhouse with it's stone walls and old fire place. I had a swig of wine with the canapes then stayed on the sparkling grape juice because I was driving. I'd say that was one of the differences about hosting a supper club outside of a large town or city, it means more people have to drive. It doesn't necessarily put them off coming but might make for a different atmosphere if the drink isn't flowing as freely.
|Blue cheese, pear and Ballencrieff tartlet|
Our main course was pork again, Scottish Pork fillet en croute served with apple gravy, Dauphinoise potatoes and Chantenay carrots. I wouldn't normally eat a lot of pork at home, especially not loin so this was a treat. In fact I don't think I've ever had pork en croute anywhere and have never cooked it myself so relished every morsel. As a side a hefty wedge each of dauphinoise potatoes were served, and a rich apple gravy. The vegetables were tasty but the meat was the main event. It was a huge main course but well presented and everything had plenty of flavour and was cooked well.
|Pork Fillet en croute|
Following the meal tea and coffee were served in some dainty china cups with thin shards of mint chocolate, made by our hosts. Despite the huge amounts we'd eaten these went down well. The cost was the usual 'donation', we gave £30 each, so with wine (one bottle!), pretend wine and petrol it was heading towards the £80 mark. Eventually taking our leave we and our fellow diners headed home, out into the cold, flat darkness. We'd been served and eaten a fine meal in a welcoming home, and while ye,s it was a nice dinner in a nice house, it was the friendliest, most talkative crowd of diners I've experienced at a supper club so far. I wonder if getting out of the city contributed to that. Who knows, it's that strange alchemical mix that makes me keep going back to these things.
We were welcomed to experience the first supper club in East Lothian and seeing our hosts go all out to make it a great experience for us, the attention to detail and stress on local produce made it an excellent night. Wheatrig Farmhouse Supper Club are hoping to host more suppers this year so it's well worth checking out. The scenery will be wonderful on the long summer nights and will really contribute to the whole experience, not to mention getting there on time! Book a taxi and enjoy some vino with all that lovely food!
There's a short article about William and Anna here
|Plum Crumble with home grown plums|