ben greeno @tudor road
Thanks to a recent barrage of good press the hot ticket in town at the moment isn’t some glitzy celebrity-backed venture but a minimalist apartment in Bethnal Green where Ben Greeno cooks for paying guests three nights a week. Sure, with the rising popularity of supper clubs it seems like every man and his dog is starting one, however Tudor Road is one with a difference. Greeno is not your average gifted home cook, but rather a seasoned professional chef who has worked in a slew of reputable restaurants, most notably Noma, where he was one of the first hires in Redzepi’s kitchen.
Getting five people to meet (including two out-of-towners) was a bit of a mission but we finally got our group together and made our way to Ben’s abode where things were already in full swing. Happily accepting complimentary glasses of cider from our host, we dispersed and joined in with the various conversations around the room – a cosy open-plan space with the kitchen to one side and dining area on the other. To start us off Ben set out large bowls of lemon cucumbers and baby radishes with two dips – a green herby number and an intense briny mussel emulsion. My first taste of these unusual round cucumbers revealed them to be mild and refreshing; insanely good dunked in the shellfish mixture.
At the table we opened and poured our respective bottles of wine (it’s BYO) and tucked into the freshly baked bread. I was still chomping on a nasturtium butter-slathered slice when the first course of Carrots, Umeboshi and Cherry arrived. The young carrots were simply prepared to allow their natural sweetness to come through with only a trace of umeboshi sauce for a savoury note. The dish was further lifted by a scant sprinkling of nasturtium leaves but could have done without the dashi-soaked cherries – partly as I’m not all that keen on dried fruit, but also because I felt they distracted from the other flavours.
I have had the pleasure of tasting the chef’s food before, when he did a stint at The Loft Project and the next course of Mackerel, Watercress and Apple was very similar to a dish from that evening. The gently pickled fish married well with the acidic jostaberry jelly and peppery watercress, displaying his precise pared-down approach beautifully. A lone apple slice for me however, was one tart component too many.
A plate of Egg, Crispy Pork and Soft Onions garnished with delicate borage flowers brought a huge smile to my face. In my eyes there’s nothing more wondrous than a slow-cooked egg (I frequently pop into Koya just for their onsen tamago) and this one was textbook – wobbly whites just set and silky viscous yolks that spilled onto the plate when pierced by the pork ‘cigar’ (pork rilettes rolled in filo). The salty porcine shreds, crisp pastry, velvety egg and sweet tender onions was an incredibly delicious combination.
Next was the main of Lamb Belly with roasted and puréed Parsnips. Layered with plenty of fat, the succulent slab of belly was not for the faint-hearted. It sure was tasty though; perhaps more piquancy in the sauce would have helped cut through the fattiness. Parsnips were a somewhat boring choice but the root vegetables made a suitable companion to the meat, lending sweetness and adding interest with the different preparations.
The highlight for me was the dessert, which says a lot as I’m not really a pudding girl. An abstractly arranged masterpiece of Blackberries, Rose Meringue fragments, Corn and crushed Pistachios, interspersed with splotches of Lemon Curd and finished with a dusting of Ginger Crumbs. Delightful both in taste and appearance; I especially loved the chewy candied corn kernels.
The meal ended with caramel truffles, coffee flower tea (apparently containing five times the amount of caffeine in coffee) and Square Mile coffee. Having finished service, Ben joined the table, chatting and drinking with the diners until it was time to depart.
At £35 (£40 from 11th October) it’s comparable to other supper clubs, making it a real steal in view of Greeno’s pedigree. His cooking of course was on point, but what was most memorable for me were all the little surprises he presented throughout the night – lemon cucumbers, foraged ingredients, unfamiliar cuts (lamb belly) and coffee flowers. A great way to enjoy restaurant quality cuisine in less pretentious yet stylishly-decked surroundings (the furniture is loaned by a local store so everything is for sale – not the cookbooks mind, I cheekily enquired the price of his treasured out-of-print Noma tome and got a steely glare) and meet some interesting people at the same time.
This is an interim project for Ben and he won’t be in UK for long (he has more permanent plans in the pipeline scheduled for early next year), so if you fancy heading down you best book soon!
Tudor Road Supper Club
reservations taken via Ben’s website