Sneaky Supper Club, Oxford
We love an under-the-radar pop-up dinner here at Muddy. So it was a big YES to five courses at Sneaky Supper Club. Ssshhhh, it can be our little secret, can't it?
Ever in search of a dining experience with a difference, we were very excited to attend the Sneaky Supper Club, a North Oxon pop-up run by a talented, young, ex-Cherwell Boathouse chef. Its menus and venues are all top secret but, hey, professional blabbermouth is basically our job description. So here’s how it went…
Well, if I told you it wouldn’t be very sneaky would it? Oh all right then, THIS time it was held in the pretty 1920s village hall in the picturesque village of Wytham, a haven of rural tranquility but only three miles north-west of Oxford city centre. It was easy to get to, just off the A34 with the short, windy drive through the village ramping up the anticipation and excitement along the way.
We followed the fairy lights and walked around the side of the building to the entrance – where we were hit by the most amazing cooking smells coming from the kitchen. Max Cooper is the chef and the man behind the concept. He’s an Oxford lad (town not gown) who started his cooking career at the Cherwell Boathouse and then went off to London to study at Leiths School of Food and Wine. After working in event catering for many years, he’s come home and set up Sneaky Supper Club.
The pop-up has already er…popped-up at The Isis Farmhouse pub at Iffley Lock and Richard Benson Hall (attached to St John’s Church on Oxford’s Cowley Road). Sneaky by name, sneaky by nature – you can only come along if you book online via the website, and the menu and location remain a mystery until the eleventh hour. Most of the other diners I spoke to said they’d found out about it on social media. The suppers are always served “banquet style” on long tables pushed together, which adds to the friendly, sociable vibe and means you’ll probably get chatting to the people next to you, which is really half the fun, isn’t it?
SCOFF & QUAFF
We got to know our table neighbours (there is a seating plan) over a glass of wine. We bought wine by the bottle – a simple choice of red or white – for £16. There weren’t any beers or spirits on offer, but that’s not so important at a supper club because it’s all about the food… all FIVE courses of it!
As with most supper clubs it was a set menu and Max did not disappoint. We started with poached free range egg, watercress velouté (soup) and crispy leeks. It looked stunning and tasted delicious.
Next up was miso roast cod, cauliflower cheese doughnut, celeriac and sorrel. Two of my favourite things… cauliflower cheese and doughnut… together! Who knew?! There was also much praise from our new friends for the sauce. We’d all been sent the menu via email but everyone had forgotten what was on it, so we had fun trying to guess the flavours.
A salad of purple sprouting broccoli, radicchio, wild garlic pesto came next. I was never a fan of cold broccoli before but I’m a convert if it comes with that dressing every time.
Soon after that came pink lamb rump, boulangere potatos, spiced shoulder sausage roll and greens. The group of four next to us were scoring each dish “Strictly Style” out of 40. This dish was their winner. My plus one for the evening doesn’t eat meat so she had a lovely salmon fillet.
Finally, pudding; rhubarb and custard but not as you know it, this time in a dainty square with a sprinkle of pistachio. Just beautiful.
We loved it and would definitely be up for another Sneaky session, and our new friends said they would too. Tastebuds tickled? The next one is Friday 25 May and you can book here.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Foodies, sociable types and those in search of a culinary adventure. The food was the star of the show and gave people plenty to talk about.
Not for: People wanting a choice – the menu is set, although they can cater for different dietary requirements. And it’s noisy, lively and fun so obviously not your spot if you’re looking for a quiet or romantic meal. And you know those times when you just can’t be bothered to talk to anyone? Give it a miss – it’s all about meeting new people and being open to new experiences. Basically if you’re a massive control freak when it comes to people, food and locations, any supper club ain’t going to be up your street.
The damage: It’s £40 a head, with wine extra. A very reasonable price for the high standard of cooking. You’d pay a lot more in a proper restaurant.
Next Sneaky Supper Club Fri, 25 May. sneakysupperclub.com
Words: Josella Waldron