By now you’ve most likely realised I love finding innovative settings and concepts behind dining in London. This one’s a fantastic Supperclub based in Hackney. Eleven98 is headed up and created by Aidan Brooks and takes inspiration from his travels but is brought to life using ingredients all sourced or produced around the Hackney area where he is from. I was invited along for a lovely evening on behalf of Love Pop Ups London to try out one of the Eleven98 supper clubs at the Hackney Coffee Company. The menu had been kept secret so we were in for a real surprise!
Unfortunately I have misplaced my SD card which I took the majority of my images from the evening on. Luckily I took a couple on my phone and have searched Eleven98 for some better images. Hopefully I’ll find it and will update these photographs.
Our dinner took place on a Friday night and was BYOB which ensured that we were able to have plenty to drink. A welcome drink was included and this was TO DIE FOR. It was a vegan White Russian which used tiger nut milk and Vodka demo Our London which is a micro distillery based in Hackney. I could drink this over and over again it was so good. I’ll definitely be attempting to make my own version.
Soon after welcome drinks we moved to the dining area which was absolutely stunning. This is the dream setting, although the benches proved difficult to move in and out from gracefully. The table was set beautifully and we got our first glance of the evening’s menu. It’s not set out as a normal menu, more of a map detailing the evening’s journey and Aidan explains that; ‘Each menu progresses as a spectrum or a linear timeline, representing the ebbing and flowing of a journey through Hackney’. I was a little disappointed to hear that the entire evening would revolve around fish as I’m not a huge fish fan. But I was up for giving it all a go and this was the perfect opportunity for that.
Then, It was time for the food. As a whole, the menu comprises of 6 dishes but Aidan brought out 2 extra treats which meant that there were 8 new experiences for the diners. The first of these was an Oyster. I’ve only ever tried one of these once and I’m not sure they’re for me due to the texture. However, it was a lovely touch and got the evening off to a running start.
Our first course from the menu was a charred brassicas anchoiade & pine salt which looked exquisite and tasted great too. It was a lot richer than I was expecting and was a struggle to finish but all the flavours and textures went together really well.
Next up was a Shiitake consommé, various grains, pickles & herbs from the garden. I love anything which includes pickles and liked that the herbs were homegrown. It just proves that you can create some beautiful tasting dishes without even having to venture far. This was made more exciting as you watched the dish transform as the consommé was poured over, this added a delicious mushroomy taste to the entire dish.
Memories of Tuscany followed, this was Gnudi al bro e salvia. These reminded me of gnocchi and were one of my favourite tastes of the night. They were both creamy and cheesy and oh so moreish. I’ve since discovered that these are little dumplings which are the filling of a ravioli, I can’t say I realised this at the time but it explains why they were so tasty!
Then, it was time for the Torched mackerel, freekeh, ajoblanco & gooseberries. I was nervous for this as I’ve always thought of mackerel as being a very fishy tasting fish (you know what I mean) but I think that by torching the fish it meant that this taste was slightly less prominent. The fish itself was flaky and melted in the mouth and was a pleasant surprise that I actually loved this dish. The gooseberry was such an incredible addition and ensure that there was a sweet yet sour part to the occasional mouthful, the ajoblanco was creamy and full of flavour and I now may not be as nervous to try mackerel again in the future.
Aidan told us that the next dish, the salted yoghurt & rose petal slushie had started out as an experiment that he left in the freezer for too long but had enjoyed. I can’t say I agree. This was my least favourite of the dishes. It just tasted like pure salt with a hint of rose. However, upon talking to Aidan he said that he doesn’t expect every dish to appeal to every person so maybe my palate just wasn’t refined enough for this one as some people gulped it down.
The final dish was exquisite. It was the finale of the menu called Coconut & coffee, a study in contrast. These two flavours may have contrasted as stated but they also complimented each other so well too. I couldn’t fault this dish or any of the elements that created it. The coconut was a sort of foam/mousse and I need more of this in my life. It was so incredible, especially when paired with the crumbs. I’m going to be thinking about this for a while.
The end of the evening saw a tray of truffles with a twist placed on the table. These weren’t what I was expecting as they were made using truffle oil. I’m not too sure how I felt about this but one person absolutely LOVED them… I watched them make their way through the ones that were left at the end of the evening.
Overall I really enjoyed my evening at Eleven98. It wasn’t one of the most social supper clubs that I had been to but that is all very dependent on the people, even though it was BYOB which helped. I do feel that I was taken on a journey throughout the evening and it was great to see how much you can do with locally sourced and foraged products. You could see Aidan’s love and passion for Hackney shining through with every description that he gave before each dish. You can tell just how much he enjoys inventing these dishes and seeing people enjoy them. A true craftsman.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone who’s not fussy with their food and wants to explore new and inspiring dishes and ways to prepare food. I wish I had gone to one of the more meaty events s but that is only as I’ve never been a fan of fish, however did discover that I don’t actually dislike fish as much as I first thought.
If you want to find out about more supperclubs then maybe you should check out this post