Jim Haynes is part of the latest advertising campaign by After Eight (yes, the chocolate mints!); you might have seen the commercial on television featuring what appears to be a fictional dinner party host in Paris. Only he’s not fictional! Jim Haynes is a real flesh and blood person and yes, he’s been holding weekly dinner parties in his house in Paris for 30 or so years. The big difference between his dinner party and your dinner party is that yours probably doesn’t include 70-80 strangers. How does he fit them all in? Well, he gets them all to stand up, of course – totally opposite to the whole table and chairs thing going on at Fernandez and Leluu, a weekly supper club held in East London.
Having read the fabulous reviews of this supper club over on the London Foodie’s blog, this secret restaurant had been on my radar for a while due to its gorgeous food (especially on the amazing Vietnamese nights). Unfortunately it’s on the opposite end of town on one of the worst nights for me as Saturdays are when the husband works and it’s all generally a mess. So when I received an invitation to a special Jim Haynes night at Fernandez and Leluu, organised by After Eight and Qype, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try it out. And so last Tuesday evening, I found myself standing in Simon and Uyen’s gorgeous living room.
Wait, standing? Yes, it was a one time only standing only party reflecting the dinner party style normally held by Jim. With all the tables gone, the space held all 40 or so of us, instead of the usual 20 or so. This must have been some pressure on the kitchen upstairs but Simon and Uyen made it all look easy. Jim Haynes was utterly charming as he wove his way around the room that’s full of food bloggers and Qypers. Of course, we weren’t just standing around – we were eating too! Please excuse the use of flash in these photos as my poor little dying point and shoot couldn’t handle the low light otherwise!
Starters came around all individually plated, designed, I think, to be eaten while standing up. Vietnamese fried spring rolls, a big meaty summer roll, a chunk of pork terrine on toast, prawns with a smoked salmon mayonnaise and a carrot and coriander chicken salad were all laid out with some nuoc cham for dipping the rolls. The big highlight for me was that summer roll, chock full of pork and prawns, and possibly the best I’ve had. The chicken salad was also wonderfully light and refreshing.
The main course was similarly plated: slices of roast fillet of beef, a garlicky stuffed baked potato, mushrooms in white wine, lambs lettuce and garlic bread. The beef was incredibly tender and the potato was absolutely genius for us stand up finger eaters – easy to pick up and bite into.
After a speech by Jim (after 30 years of dinner parties, that man is full of stories!), dessert came round in glass tumblers. Bread and butter pudding was wodged in each cup over what I think is a white chocolate custard and topped with strawberries macerated in whisky. This went down very easily.
Unfortunately, I had to scoot off after dessert to cross London again. It was great meeting many of the London’s food bloggers too, including some new faces to me: The Grubworm, Intoxicating Prose, London Eater (his post of the night has some fabulous photos!), and TomEatsJenCooks. It was a fun night with some seriously good home cooking!
Thank you to Sarah from Grayling (After Eight’s PR company) for the invitation and thank you to Simon and Uyen (Fernandez and Leluu) for welcoming us into your home.
Fernandez and Leluu
a secret location in East London (shhhh…)