With sustainability always in my heart, I’ve been eyeing Aidan’s Brooks sustainable supper club for a while. Finally, coming to his social dining at “The Chef's Table,” I did not expect to experience a feast in his house at his actual table!
Having run the events on a bigger scale, currently, Aidan’s supper club is cozier and accommodates up to 12 guests on most Friday nights. Entering via the bright yellow door, we were welcomed with delicious “Respect Your Elders” cocktails made with foraged (personally picked by the chef) elderflower from the Lea Valley, apple juice, and elderflower sherbet. It was a perfect ice-breaker for a bunch of strangers that were about to share a table together for 4 hours. But it wasn’t just the elderflower that came from a very local source. Following the “field to fork” philosophy, all the produce used throughout the night had been locally grown in Hackney (where Aidan is from); either grown in his own garden, foraged, or sourced from local community gardens and urban farms. Aiming for zero-waste and carbon neutrality, the chef works with what is available each week, so the menu is constantly changing. While we were still trying to catch each other’s names, the first dish of mini salt cod croquettes with squid ink aioli, and pickled celery arrived at the table. These two scrumptious morsels set the bar high for the evening. Every dish was introduced in detail, with the source of the ingredients explained. The lockdown perfected rosemary challah with home-churned butter was on everyone’s lips for the entire evening. Another stand-out dish was the ricotta gnudi in deep green three-cornered leek cream and English cheese on the top. This delicate dish was full of interesting flavors. The torched endives that followed (served with anchovies butter and topped with sourdough breadcrumbs) were one of the highlights for me as I always love surprising flavors I have not encountered before. English burrata, with London Fields green figs and basil, was exciting too. The wild sea bream with chard, smoked cod’s roe and chives was my least favorite dish, but some of my companions couldn’t give it enough praise, calling it the best fish they’d ever had. I couldn’t wait for the dessert, but the palate-cleansing, vibrantly colored boozy redcurrant and mint granite that preceded the sweet dish were phenomenal! The rhubarb three ways accompanied by a French toast made from the hailed challah topped brownie crumbs was another feast of colors and didn’t disappoint. And when we thought the indulgence is over. Aidan came back with plates of more treats! We tried almond cookies that very much reminded Sicilian Paste di Mandorla; bay leaves infused ice cream sandwiched in two mini oat biscuits (another flavor discovery!), and a chocolate ganache truffle with infusion we had to guess ourselves. For a truffle monster like me, it took me seconds to figure it out and I can’t think of a better ending to the night than a truffle in truffle! I greatly enjoyed the “culinary journey through Hackney and I’m still in awe of how Aidan manages to do it all by himself! With guests from all over the world around his table, some of whom were returning, I think 98 Eleven permanent restaurants is only a matter of time!