With the launch of his restaurant Alchemilla only 6 weeks away, we didn’t want to miss the chance to attend Alex Bond’s supper club at Wired Cafe so we booked onto the last one. We’ve been eagerly following his progress on social media so were excited to get a taste of what to expect from Alchemilla when it opens on 1 August on Derby Road.
Michelin-trained Alex honed his skills under Notts mega-chef Sat Bains but is now striking out on his own and making a name for himself. Until Alchemilla opens, Alex has been running supper clubs as a chance to sample his food and watch him do his thang in more intimate quarters. We dined on a 5 course tasting menu for £35 which we’ve been assured will be a similar price point to Alchemilla
Our first course was a cod roe emulsion served with pea and broad bean potato salad and a powder made from seaweed, crispy onion and nuts (we’ll call this powder ‘magic dust’).
It looked impressive and tasted even better – we grinned at each other and did a secret fist bump – this meal was gonna be gooood. The salty fish flavour of the cod roe in the emulsion was perfectly balanced with the fresh peas and herbs in the salad, with the magic dust adding an incredible nutty/seaweed flavour – it was perfect for summer and we could have eaten double! A delicious start.
Course 2 was marinated, charred chickory served with a walnut and beetroot ketchup and topped with a walnut crumb.
I don’t think either of us has eaten chickory before but it was very tasty indeed. The earthy flavour went well with the sweeter beetroot and the walnuts with the breadcrumbs in the crumb adding a toast-like taste which worked wonderfully. We were left thinking that a touch more acidity in the sauce would have cut through the sweet nuttiness more and added another dimension to lift the dish – but no biggie.
The main course was pork belly served on a pretty swirl of watercress sauce with white asparagus, pickled charred leak and preserved elderflower.
This was absolutely amazing, the pork was packed full of flavour, tender as anything and not too fatty (nothing more disappointing than when you order pork belly and it’s 90% gunky fat). The cider vinegar taste from the pickled leek was superb with the pork, calling to mind the classic combo of pork an apple sauce but fresher. The only thing that would have taken this dish to an 11/10 would have been a crunchy top to the belly slice – everyone loves crackling! Even so, the attention to detail was very impressive and every flavour was there for a reason – even the tiny pickled elderflower, that we thought was just for garnish, added a burst of flavour to the plate along with the peppery watercress and beautiful asparagus – this was a huge hit.
Next up, PUDS. The first was an absolute treat of bakewell-esque flavour combinations: Marinated cherries served with woodruff cream, sorrel leaves and a cherry granita.
It’s rare when I think a dessert is the highlight of the meal but this (and the next course) really were! The flavour from the fruit was incredible, we’re not sure what they were marinated in but it definitely pumped up that gorgeous cherry flavour (it definitely wasn’t booze, which I’ve not been a fan of in the past). We hadn’t had woodruff before, it’s a wild plant whose leaves have an intense vanilla and almond flavour – it’s INSANE that a little leaf can taste like that! The woodruff cream packed a strong taste of vanilla and almond which complemented the cherries perfectly to create that classic bakewell tart goodness. The icy granita on top added a sharper flavour, we would have liked a little more of the woodruff cream. Our only complaint with this dish is that it left us wanting more. A lot more. Like… ten bowls. NO, TWENTY!
Our fifth and final course was raspberries served with a white chocolate ganache, meringue shards, lemon verbena gel, caramelised white chocolate and raspberry powder.
It’s close with the cherry dessert, but I think this was my favourite dish of the night – it was simple but so, so effective. The flavour of the fresh berries was celebrated and they stood out as super sweet and sharp against the slightly herbal, fresh lemon gel. The highlight of this course however had to be the shard of caramelised white chocolate – that toffee-like flavour was astonishing, like a shard of Caramac bar! AMAZING!!
We booked the supper club as it seemed good value to eat top-quality food at an affordable price. Alex Bond delivered immensely – the food was incredible, really some of the best food in the city and could easily compete with any Michelin starred restaurant – we hope it continues into Alchemilla! If the new restaurant is anything like the supper club, you need to get yourself booked in, pronto. Now. Go. GO!
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Emily and Stu