Last night, I had my first experience at the Rusholme Park Supper Club, and it certainly won’t be my last. That is, unless you all read this review and mob the place, making it impossible for me to ever get tickets again.
First, a bit of background. The Club operates out of The Depanneur, a convenience store/café at the corner of Havelock and College. The Depanneur offers a small selection of groceries, including fruits and vegetables, bread, cheese, etc. They also offer brunch on the weekends, and some baked goods, soups and other café staples throughout the week. I can attest to the pure awesomeness of their bread pudding, which was quite liberally drizzled with real maple syrup and homemade buttermilk. The Depanneur hosts food-related workshops, too. Based on the fact that they had homemade buttermilk on hand, I’m guessing that a recent workshop was held on how to make butter.
I could try to describe how the Club works, but just found this on their website and thought I would crib it to make my life easier:
It works like this: the RPSC is a not-for-profit association dedicated to convivial, social dining. It holds irregular meetings at The Depanneur hosted by a rotating cast of chefs. Memberships cost $40, and entitle you to attend a meeting where a free, family-style dinner is served.
Memberships last only 1 day; if you want to attend another meeting, you must renew your membership ($40 each time). No alcohol is bought, sold or served at the meetings, but if members choose to bring their own beverage to a meeting, then there is nothing I can do to stop them (it is their meeting, after all).
In other words: $40 for a 3+ course, family-style meal where 20 guests share dinner with the chef in a casual, B.Y.O.B. dinner party setting.
So, with tickets purchased for Sunday, November 27th, I head out to the Shinaki_Co dinner with chef Sean Santos, who has worked at Momofuko/Ma Peche in NYC and has quite a popular stall at TUM. The menu promised to “reinterpret Filipino home cooking”. Having no prior experience with Filipino food of any kind, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Doors opened at 7:30 p.m., with dinner served at 8 p.m. All diners shared one long table, which was surprisingly elegantly set for a convenience store. I got seats closest to the kitchen, and could peek in on the action from time to time. Sean, Len and Sarah (the fine folks who run the Club and Depanneur) served and ate with us.
The first course was a cured and seared pickerel with pickled cucumbers, radishes and sauted scallions. It was served with a beet and apple reduction. The dish was well-balanced, a great mix of salty, sour and sweet. All in all, an excellent start.
The second course was pork belly with adobo rice. When Sean took the bellies out of the oven, the whole table suddenly got very distracted. These bellies were beauties, all crispy and lacquered-looking, and they tasted even better than they looked. They were fatty, of course, but the fat melted in my mouth and the meat was tender. And the rice… I’m not one to normally get excited about rice, but this rice was a revelation. It looked exactly like mushroom risotto, but did not taste like that at all. It was creamy from coconut milk, and had a refreshing streak of acidity, which was a fine complement to the richness of the pork belly. Amazing! The table got pretty silent for a while, as we were all so busy stuffing our faces with sweet meat and rice. Luckily, a platter of seconds was available.
The dessert course was simple and delicious: a plantain bread, with vanilla ice cream and salted caramel. Sean made the caramel by boiling a couple of cans of condensed milk on the stove. It was great to be able to be so close to the action in the kitchen, and to get Sean’s take on the food since he was dining with us.
I’m not sure what other dinners are planned for the Rusholme Park Supper Club in the near future, but I would definitely go back. The atmosphere was fun, the food was fantastic, and the price was so right.