Thursday, 29 October 2009

Guerilla dining in Brixton.

After watching Jamie Oliver attend and host a supper club in New York on Jamie’s American Road Trip I was intrigued by the so-called ‘guerrilla restaurant’ concept; an individual hosting a dinner party for strangers in their home, where everybody pays a ‘donation’ towards the meal. On the edge of legality, these supper clubs seemed to me like a fabulous way to enjoy great food (and a smug feeling of coolness) away from the stuffiness (not to mention high prices) of some London restaurants.
Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered a supper club not only in London, but on the next road. The Saltoun Supper Club in Brixton is run by Arno Maasdorp – a food stylist and photographer, from his top-floor flat on the road after which his pop-up diner is named.
Every Thursday Arno transforms his living room into a 16 seat restaurant where diners bring a bottle (supper clubs are unlicensed and cannot legally charge for their services) and a friend of his helps out with service.
His website cites the bustle and fresh produce of Brixton market as the inspiration behind his supper club, but Arno’s menus indicate a chef with skills reaching far beyond the amateur market cook. They are impeccably well thought out, seasonal and represent astounding value for money at £25 for 4 courses. Each week sees a different menu, emailed to guests in advance, including homemade breads and handmade confectionery.
Arno’s concept appeals to me, not only as a chance to enjoy his cooking in a relaxed environment, but as a chance to feel part of something a bit rebellious. His ‘restaurant’ is an entirely personal affair, undertaken for his own enjoyment and that of his guests rather than for personal gain. A refreshing antidote to the overcrowded and overpriced restaurants which are beginning to seem more and more redundant in these slender times.

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