Pop in for a super supper – but hurry!
It’s a labour of love as couple work wonders at pop-up supper club in transformed bank vaults
14 December, 2017 — By Tom Moggach
The food at Elaine and Pete’s Dining Room is creative yet simple
AT first sight, it’s an unlikely venue for a memorable dinner – a small glass box stuck onto a defunct Barclays bank in Essex Road. This modernist building is home to Borough Wines, which is hosting an intriguing pop-up supper club in the sprawling bank vaults below.
The wine shop is where the magic starts: walk through the narrow space then push aside curtains to reveal stairs descending to the depths below. Downstairs, you’ll find their “nanobrewery”, an assortment of vats and stills fragrant with craft beer and gin.
To the right is the makeshift kitchen, where two chefs rustle up an imaginative menu using little more than a fridge and two hobs.
Our hosts are Elaine and Pete, friends who first met over 25 years ago. Both have spent decades in the restaurant business. This project, however, is a labour of love.
“We were both tired of doing the breakfast/lunch/dinner,” explains Pete, flicking a tea towel over his shoulder.
Elaine and Pete’s Dining Room aims to banish the formality of some meals out. The vibe is relaxed and informal – more like a meal at your best friend’s house.
A fashion designer has transformed the bare vault with mirrors, mistletoe, flashes of pink and red, and quilts hanging like curtains to improve the acoustics.
It’s a brief menu – three options each for starters, mains and desserts. Two courses costs £35, three for £40.
Unsurprisingly – given the wine shop above – the drinks list is a highlight and stuffed with bargains.
We kicked off with a G&T made with dry pink grapefruit gin – just £5.50. Softer options include a soda infused with nettle, rhubarb and juniper.
The wine list here includes intriguing curveballs such as natural wines and hard-to-find grapes. Prices range from £4.50 to £8 a glass.
The food is creative yet simple. One starter nestled in a leaf of speckled radicchio – pickled yellow beetroot and blackberries, nuggets of chopped walnut and tangy curd cheese.
A home-made terrine arrives with pickled quince and watercress; the prawn salad is lifted by a truffle mayonnaise.
Best of our mains was a chunk of cod on a bed of mash slathered with an wildly rich butter sauce spiked with capers, pancetta and shredded Brussel sprouts.
The only duff note were the flatbreads – hopeless for mopping up your plate.
Don’t miss the ice cream from a small producer called La Grotta. They work wonders with subtle and seasonal flavours, such as a chestnut gremolata.
This is delightful food and drink, make no mistake. The quirky setting adds a dream-like, illicit feel. Act quick if you want to book a table before Christmas – navigate to the events page on the Borough Wines website.
Elaine and Pete will cook from 7pm-10.30pm, Thursday to Saturday only, until December 22 and will re-open in January (date tbc) for another short run.
Elaine and Pete’s Dining Room
344A Essex Road, N1
020 7226 0626