So much so, in fact, that many are popping up in the suburbs, including some right on my doorstep in Chorlton. So I thought I’d take a closer look at the area’s supper clubs.
Hang on, what’s a supper club?
A supper club (also known as a dinner club, or a fine dining club if you’re posh) can take many forms:
- House-turned-restaurant – where a budding chef offers to cook dinner in their own home for a group of guests, often including people they’ve never met before
- Foodie group – where a gang of like-minded food lovers get together to visit different restaurants/pubs/cafes/bars and taste what they have to offer
- Foodie event – where a restaurant/pub/café/bar puts on a special set menu for foodies, which is usually much more ambitious than the standard menu
Now as far as I’m aware, Chorlton doesn’t have any house-turned-restaurants or foodie groups but it does have more than its fair share of foodie events.
How much does a supper club cost?
Prices vary but a ‘house-turned-restaurant’ or ‘foodie event’ supper club in south Manchester usually costs about £20-£30 per head for three-, four- or even five-courses, and some also include drinks. Not cheap, then, but I’ve yet to leave feeling short-changed. ‘Foodie group’ supper clubs are usually free or a nominal amount to join – then you pay for what you order.
List of Chorlton supper clubs
Here are the Chorlton supper clubs I know about…
- Tea Hive – Tea Hive, on Manchester Road, seems to be the most prolific organiser of supper clubs in Chorlton. Last Friday, for example, the cafe ran a January Comfort Food Supper Club (which is where I took the photos for this blog). In the past few months, it’s also done an All American Thanksgiving Supper Club (which was great), a Scandinavian Supper Club and a Pan Asian Supper Club. They’ve also got a Valentine’s Supper Club coming up next month.
- North Star Deli – I think I’m right in saying that North Star Deli, on Wilbraham Road, was something of a trailblazer. It organised the first supper club that I know of in Chorlton, back in July 2011, and it’ll host another on 27 February 2014. This supper club’s being organised by a pair of chefs called Season’s Eatings, who run supper clubs throughout Manchester, and it’s their first venture into Chorlton so fingers crossed more will follow.
- The Post Box Café – The Post Box Café, on Wilbraham Road, hosts loads of events, including supper clubs. I went to one last summer in which diners were given a three-course meal – followed by a question-and-answer session with the farmer who produced the pork! (the farm was Porcus in West Yorkshire, in case you’re wondering). The Post Box Café is also hosting a surf-and-turf dinner club on 21 February 2014 and an intriguing-sounding Chorlton history dinner on 28 March 2014.
- The Hungry Gecko – The Hungry Gecko is a business run by Jackie Kearney, who was a finalist in BBC One’s MasterChef in 2011. It started out as a supper club in September 2011. The Hungry Gecko still does occasional supper clubs, with the website saying they serve five-course Asian-inspired menus for private parties and occasional posted dates. If you can’t wait, the Hungry Gecko’s also set up a street-food stall, which can be found at the back of the Beech Inn on Beech Road.
- Electrik – Electrik, on Wilbraham Road, used to organise lots of supper clubs. Those supper clubs even had their own catchy name, Guestrant, but I’ve not heard of any new ones lately. Then again, the bar’s owners (Justin Crawford and Luke Cowdrey, better known as DJ duo The Unabombers) have just opened their first restaurant, Volta, on Burton Road in West Didsbury so I imagine they’ve got enough on their plate right now.
Please sir, can I have some more?
These are the Chorlton supper clubs I know about, but I’m sure there are others. Feel free to drop me a line if I’ve missed one. And now the secret’s out, hopefully we’ll see a lot more popping up in the coming months.
Update: Hayley Flynn (creator of Manchester-based art, architecture and history blog Skyliner) tells me that the Spoon Inn, on Barlow Moor Road, also runs pop-up restaurant nights in the style of supper clubs. I tweeted the Spoon Inn who confirmed, saying: “We have hosted pop-up restaurants in the past and have spoken to supper club runners about the possibility of hosting an evening.” So now you know. (29 January 2014)
Note: All the photos on this post were taken at Tea Hive’s January Comfort Food Supper Club.