Eddie Shepherd is a purely vegetarian chef – and he’s VERY experimental! Think Heston Blumenthal meets Simon Rogan meets a magician. An evening with Eddie is a colourful culinary adventure. I went to one of Eddie’s supper clubs in November and raved about it so much that I booked an eight seated supper club especially for myself and some friends.
It was advertised as a ten course taster menu, but as we discovered on arrival there appeared to be fourteen courses. I was unfazed – I had after all easily demolished seventeen courses last week at L’Enclume.
Surprisingly we started with a ‘butterfly’ iced tea, but not any old iced tea – this was purple iced tea with a metal tea bag of dry ice – all made with entirely natural products – not a load of food colouring. And we each had cute mini teapots to pour our own tea. It was sweet and tasty, the dry ice beautifully blending the fragrant flavours.
Next up was my favourite course! Maybe not for flavour, but for true interactive experience. Eddie told us to look behind us and behold, there were eight pretty, decorative baubles hanging from the ceiling in his lounge. We had assumed that it was just decor, but no that was our next course. So far, so Willy Wonka. It was tofu, dandelion and pickled apple served in a perspex bauble with a hole to access the food. The experience was made more enjoyable because all the guests were hanging round the ‘work of art’ gasping and trying to work out what the hell it was. A great ice-breaker. The dish itself was a perfect sweet and savoury combo. And to be a true food wanker – umami is the Japanese word to describe that sweet spot of flavour that rests between sweet and savoury.
For course three things got even more Willy Wonka with what looked like a glow stick. The menu told us it was Chamomile and Raspberry. Basically a raspberry puree with fresh mint that we had to suck it through the stick! Not my most elegant moment, but very delicious.
The remaining eleven courses were equally glorious! Although not quite as Crystal Maze – everything else we just had to shovel down our gobs in a more straight forward manner. I think once the ice was broken amongst the guests with the first three ‘wonder’ courses, we were free to kick back and enjoy the food a bit more. A wise move on Eddie’s part, as we were pretty inebriated by the end of the night and Eddie might have a had a few smashed baubles and glow sticks had they occurred at course thirteen and fourteen.
What I loved about the evening was just how tactile and thought-provoking the whole affair was. Eddie was a delightful host – enthusiastically introducing each course and explaining what it was. There was not a quiet moment in the entire four and half hours we were there – each dish was a great talking point.
The feta with pineapple sauce was another good ‘umami’ course. I suppose cheese and pineapple is a classic, but this was a delightful take on it, the saltiness of the feta in rich contrast to the super sweet pineapple. And the onions marinated in blueberry vinegar (obviously) draped on the feta were an attractive and tasty bonus.
The cured egg, truffle and smoked yoghurt was whacky and awesome. It tasted smoky and otherworldy and was scoffed in one happy mouthful.
A couple of favourites from our November supper club were back on the menu – warm walnut bread with homemade creamy butter was a big hit. And the deep fried halloumi with potato fondant and a creamy dill sauce – whilst a bit on the conventional side for Eddie – was comfort food at it’s best – and a pleasantly hefty portion after all those little mouthful sized-courses.
And then there were the puddings! My boyfriend’s favourite was the fennel pollen, blueberry and lemon candyfloss – which I have to admit was pretty cool.
For me, the most intriguing pud was the cherry, coconut and chocolate which was a combination of a mousse and ice-cream. Eddie theatrically prepared it in front of us on what was called an ‘anti-griddle’ – a contraption that looked like a 1980s photocopier. This piece of equipment can go as cold as minus fifty degrees and exclusively freezes the bottom piece of the food you put on the ‘griddle’. Which left us with a creamy dessert that was half ice-cream at the bottom and unfrozen mousse at the top. Eddie Wonka at his best!
And as a massive chocoholic the final pudding was entirely pleasing to me – a bergamont and juniper truffle wrapped up like a present in shiny rainbow cellophane. A simple fun touch that appealed to the child in all of us.
I apologise that I’ve been unable to describe the flavours of the various dishes I ate in detail. The problem with eating fourteen experimental courses with so many flavours that were new to me, is that it’s difficult to have a clear memory of it all (and the booze may not have helped!). But, every course tasted sensational and was a visual feast!
I had a whale of a time as did all my friends, and for £40 (and it’s BYO) it’s brilliant value for money. To find out more go to Eddie’s website: