Last week, as part of the Leytonstone Arts Festival, Michael hosted a special East End-themed Invite To Supper evening at the Tap and naturally roped Leytonstoner along for the ride.The evening kicked off at 7.30pm for pre-dinner drinks ahead of the first course being served up at 8pm. The fortnightly Wanstead Tap events come with the option of beer pairing, with beers selected from the vast array on offer at the Tap but, preferring a glass of wine with dinner, we went for a bottle to Cotes De Rhone instead. So sue us. After drinks and a natter we took our seats at the long table, the perfect set up for chatting to other supper clubbers, who were a friendly bunch.
Michael, assisted by Naomi White, cooked and plated up the dishes at a table close to where we were sitting. Unlike the chefs I remember from my many years as a waitress – or me when I have to cook for more than two people – he never once looked ruffled, but I suppose, after surviving the pressure of the increasingly tough challenges dreamt up by the Masterchef team, not much is going to stress you out.
Asparagus and pea shoots in a buttermilk dressing topped with smoked eel which, according to Michael, is the same price as fillet steak these days, was up next. Despite having lived in east London for 15 years and not being the least bit fussy about food, I’ve always given eel a wide berth, their slithery-ness always putting me off, so I was a bit nervous about this dish. I needn’t have worried: it was delicious, fishy in a good way and a great accompaniment to asparagus, all in all a lovely light, fresh, bridging course. Consider this former eel unbeliever converted – although jellied eels might be a step too far.A hearty main course of organic salt beef and mash, with giant pickles, from local pickler Nick, of Vadasz Deli pickles and a dollop of mustard cream on the side, followed. The mixture of textures and flavours in this course, made it my favourite dish of the night although, to be honest, it was hard to call.
Pudding, then? A generous helping of Eton Mess flavoured with elderflower foraged from nearby Wanstead Flats, the perfect dish to serve up in Wimbledon finals week. Not usually a dessert person I managed to polish off the entire portion. It was very sweet and quite filling after everything that had gone before but if you’re going to do pudding, you might as well go for it, right?
After dinner we got the chance to grill, er sorry talk, to Michael who is a warm and friendly host, happily chatting about food and answering my inane questions about Masterchef, even though he’s probably heard them all before.
In short? My first Invite To Supper evening was one of the funnest and tastiest evenings I’ve had in east London this summer. Highly recommend.