The Basement -Bristol

No longer in a basement and no longer in Montpelier, this roving supper club continues to go from strength to strength. Now in its third year, run by Dan and Elly, both with foodie day jobs, and whose love of cooking and entertaining translates into a fun and flavourful evening. This evening was no exception, with a seven course, yes count them, a seven course extravaganza.
We kicked off with Keen's cheddar biscuits with parmesan and poppy seeds. These savoury thins with more than a hint of cayenne and mustard, melted in the mouth. I'd have been more than happy to eat them all evening, but for the matter of six more courses. They were followed by red onion and red wine soup with Stichelton toasts. This rustic soup, which I think has Italian origins, was a bit hit and miss with my fellow diners. I found it quite warm and comforting, with punches of thyme and contrasting texture from the toast. Others found it a bit onion heavy and ate the toasts and left much of the rest.

We moved on to mackerel fillets with smoked cod roe cream and pickled vegetables. The mackerel, panfried and well seasoned, had a vibrant accompaniment in hot pickled carrot and shallot. Sharp, crunchy and sweet, it complimented the oily fish nicely. Not as smokey as I'd imagined it might be, the cod roe cream added a slick of richness that I thought the dish didn't necessarily need.

After a little pause, the main event, ox cheek with parsnip puree and kale crisps. The slow braised ox cheek was wonderfully tender and served with an unctuous and collagenous gravy. Parsnip puree and kale crisps completed winter on a plate, whilst a pungent flat leaf parsley and red onion salad, stopped the dish from feeling too heavy.

To cleanse our palettes we ate pear and brandy ice. Granita like and intensely flavoured, this refreshing pop made the way for dessert: poached quince, meringue, pistachio and Homewood ewe's curd cream. Fragrant quince slices poached in a sweet liquor, spiked with cloves, were just devine. These were surrounded by crumbled, mallowy, meringue, mellow curd and some bite from the pistachio.

We finished the evening with the Basement's signature closing dish; a rarebit. Gorwydd Caerphilly, Bristol Beer Factory milk stout and Bertinet sourdough rarebit to be precise. These savoury bites were bold and punchy and actually a lovely way to end the night's feast.

The supper club format may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I think it can make for an interesting experience and certainly at The Basement, the food won't disappoint. Misanthropes beware, it's hard to just eat and run. So prepare to be open minded and come armed with some small talk, plenty of booze and who knows, you might just enjoy yourself. Fancy that...

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