Fernandez and Leluu

I’m not sure precisely when the “S” word became the extra hot Tabasco of conversation, but there seems to be little else right now in the arena of food that’s quite so guaranteed to elicit such a spicy torrent of opinion. Uyen and Simon are a Vietnamese and Spanish couple who cook delicious and imaginative meals in Uyen’s Eastside flat. When I mentioned that I might be going back for second helpings, I was rather condescendingly informed by some food Nazi or other that supper clubs are in fact passé. Apparently they’re just sooo 2009, according to those on the cutting edge of food fashion. Well call me Pat Butcher’s left earring, but I thought it was food not Erdem. So, yes, I spent New Year’s Eve with Fernandez and Leluu and bloody brilliant it was too.

I’d been here before. Back in the autumn, my friend Matthew and I decided to give their Vietnamese Halloween night a try, and were pleasantly surprised to realise that he lives just next door to them. Matthew is rather hard to please when it comes to food (or indeed anything) and the fact that he loved it speaks volumes. Being a lot less adventurous than I like to admit, I felt a definite twinge of the squeams at the prospect of frog’s legs – however one bite and all tentativeness swiftly fell away as I got stuck in to seriously tender, perfectly seasoned nuggets of froggy goodness. Hot and sour soup is my personal benchmark of a good Vietnamese meal, and the one served here was simply incredible. Dense with catfish, tomato and okra, the broth balanced the line between sweet, tangy, sour and salty with tightrope precision. The whole menu was spot on and definitely worth more than the £30 a head we paid. Stamped with personality, authenticity and wit – anyone that serves sashimi with double fried chips is always going to be a decent sort in my books.

And so I was thrilled to hear they were having a New Year’s bash. Let’s face it, New Years can so often be a grisly, hit and miss affair, what with all that paying to get into your local or going to dreadful house parties and watching your friends gurn at one another. Or worse staying in and feeling like you really ought to be out having a rubbish time, just anything to get away from Alan “kill me quick” Carr.

This time there was definitely more of a party atmosphere, and for ages we all stood around talking, chatting and generally breaking down those inter-table borders. It felt like a room full of properly like-minded types, I met Luiz Hara of http://www.thelondonfoodie.co.uk and his brilliantly bonkers friends , as well as the lovely Gail of one million gold stars amongst others. The appeal of this particular supper club for me lies in the fact that the hosts are genuinely warm and welcoming, which makes going round there feel a lot more like visiting old friends, rather than just going round to some randomers for dinner. However, whilst all was a picture of fun and good times downstairs, upstairs at the end of the night was of course a total bomb wreck, which provides an inkling of just how much hard work must go into these evenings.

The flat is full of fascinating little knick knacks, there are shelves crammed with jars of tea and some stunning clothes that Uyen makes for her Carnaby Street boutique “Love Leluu”. There’s a mirror in the bathroom you can write messages on, a plastic gecko and a chest of drawers in the garden and nobody minds if you accidentally spill a tiny drop of wine or nip outside for a rolly between courses. It’s that sort of place.

Eventually we settled and were served a surprise “best of” menu which kicked off with hunks of Uyen’s dreamy home made bread and some parmesan rich pesto which Gail and I secretly polished off before anyone else could get a look in. Then came Simon’s home made terrine which he had just whipped up that morning, followed by chop-slappingly fresh sashimi with my favourite wasabi mayonnaise. We then had pasta with ragu sauce, and suffice to say I was pretty sated at this point, but we were warned there was even more to come. This turned out to be a total understatement, which came in the form of a proper roast dinner with the works – we’re talking roast chicken, lamb, vegetables and lashings of gravy. Like the most lethargically-roasted nervous breakdown, the meat just fell apart upon the merest contact, and the gravy was English granny perfect. We finished with delicate orange and vodka pannacotta, the epitome of sublime, wobbly perfection.

In terms of the food, I have to admit it was all perfectly executed, but I did personally prefer the menu on the Halloween night, just because I adore Vietnamese food. However, in terms of socialising with the other guests, this completely rocked it. I particularly loved the fact that Simon and Uyen came and ate with us for the second half of the meal. It really made it a proper experience for us, and we were glad they’d chosen the sort of menu which meant they were able to do that. I went with someone who’d never been to a supper club before and afterwards we both agreed that it was easily one of the best New Year’s celebrations we’d ever been to and can’t wait for the next one.

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18 comments

  1. Oh, what a lovely New Years! It sounds delicious in every way. If you ever feel like going again, do let me know, and I will come with you :)

  2. gastrogeek

    Was thinking of going back for the Chinese New Year night, Feb 13th I think – let me know if you’re around, I think you’d really love it! :)

  3. A supperclub sounds like the ideal way to spend NY. Not sure about “food Nazi’s” comment that supperclubs are passé. I’m really looking forward to seeing how supperclubs progress this year – loving some of the imaginative ideas people are putting out there.

  4. Hi sweetie, it was great to meet you at F&L’s NYE party! We kept meaning to sit down and have a proper chat but things got a little wild and I got far from being able to hold any meaningful conversations soon after midnight, I just hope I did not disgrace myself!!

    Thanks for the link to your lovely review, so wittily written as always. I will add you on to my blog list now. Don’t be a stranger!

    Luiz x

  5. Sounds ace – can’t wait to check this place out. Supper clubs ‘passe’already? Some people are so being so cutting edge they miss out on the fun – goons. x

  6. it looks like an amazing place! Let me know next time you’re going, would love to join!

  7. what a great review, I’ve been planning on going to their Chinese New Year night, as well as trying a couple of other places, this has just made me want to go even more now.

    Sounds like an ace way to spend NYE too, you’re so right about what a ball-ache the whole night can be (although you phrased it a bit better than that)

  8. Dan

    Rej, What a great way to spend New Years Eve. What a Fantastic idea, wish I’d thought of that! Sounds like a you had a brilliant evening, and the food looks excellent. I’ll have to give this place a try this year.

    As for the comment you heard that supperclubs are so 2009 – hahaha, I think they’re here to stay. The shackles are off and people in this country finally have the confidence and the skills to really cook and eat like never before. The futures bright :)

  9. You know what?! We found ourselves watching Alan “kill me quick” Carr 5 mins before midnight this NYE before suddenly coming to our senses and screaming “what the f**k are we doing??!”.

    Sounds like you a great time and was properly stuffed to boot. I echo some of the previous statements, I think supper clubs are going to turn things up a notch this year.

  10. Food Nazi’s – they are everywhere at the moment. I’ll be the first to wince when people start banging on with words like ‘locavore’ though – oh God, maybe I am one! Nah, I’m just not. Each to their own I say. It sounds like a lovely evening and I’ve thought about going here several times. When I have more then two pennies to rub together I will!

  11. Rej, first of all , Happy New Year! i had been on hols and am back- catching up with all the lovely posts by fellow food bloggers. this looks and sounds like a lovely meal. who CARES what food nazis say? i told a friend i was going to hakkasan with my family when i was in london a few days ago and got a bit of a snicker. erm, why? bec hakkasan is passe? i dont care, i still adore it and their food is tops. down with the food snobs! F &L obviously run a lovely ‘establishment’ and i wish them all the luck in the world. xx

  12. Hi Rej, this is the link for that Shizuoka guy i was telling you about last Sunday, I think he is pretty good. Hope you are well.

    http://shizuokagourmet.wordpress.com/

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  13. gastrogeek

    Grafoo – it truly was, and agreed it’s all about the imaginative ones

    Luiz- it was such a pleasure to meet you, Dr G, Rich and the lovely Tea – such a fun night wasn’t it?! Feels like ages ago already…thanks for the link must check that out!x

    Katy- Cheers – it’s so sad isn’t it? Can’t wait to try Alice’s one! x

    Jones – Thanks, I’d definitely do this again, it’s a virtually foolproof way of having a decent NY celebration!

    Dan- thanks! Am definitely looking forward to trying out many more!

    Danny – Oh no! I feel for you, I had to sit through it once and almost ended up throwing the tv out of the window. Gah!

    Helen – it’s true isn’t it? I thought it was just me, but I’ve definitely noticed a swell in their numbers!

    Shayma – thanks so much and Happy New Year, I hope you had a good one! It’s a shame you don’t live in the UK, I’m sure you’d love them x

  14. dlpearson

    Some wonderful sounding food!

  15. Haha! Was laughing at your response to the food Nazi. There certainly are plenty of those out there. Thanks for your review. Am going tonight and wanted to read up.

    Best

    Truffle

  16. gastrogeek

    Ha! totally forgot about that. Must go back there soon, it feels like such a long time ago – you’ll have a wail of a time.

    Best wishes

    Rejina

  17. Fernandez & Leluu now work independently!

    Simon Fernandez is now full time chef patron at ferdiesfoodlab and employs 8 people on a part-time basis. ferdiesfoodlab (a London supper club) is a social banquet where you can meet new people. It serves international cuisine in the east end of central London at the beautiful listed building Toynbee Hall. You can check it out at ferdiesfoodlab.co.uk

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