My opinions are independent but I’d like you to know that I did not pay for this meal.
The Duke of Cambridge is the world’s first Soil Association Certified organic pub. In fact, as it approaches its eighteenth birthday, the Duke remains Britain’s only pub which is Certified organic – a fact I find impressive and bizarre in roughly equal measure. Following the marriage of their respective owners, the Duke and Riverford joined forces, bringing the produce of those much-loved weekly veg. boxes to a more permanent home in North London.
The Duke runs frequent Secret Supper Clubs using organic produce largely sourced from Riverford farms dotted around the UK. I was lucky enough to go along at the end of September 2015 and it was cracking.
Greeted by a vibrant cucumber, elderflower and vodka cocktail, I chanced a glance over the fresh flowers and candles on the tables at the menu chalked up on blackboards. Yum. I was confident that Riverford at the Duke would deliver.
The starter of beetroot borani (a yoghurt and beetroot puree) and chilli creamed corn served with generous doorstep slices of sourdough was delicious – colourful, spicy, cooling and fresh. These dishes were on point.
The main course of squash, chickpea and spinach curry was lovely. In the interests of The Environment, I asked the necessary questions about the provenance of the chickpeas and coconut milk used in the curry. Although obviously not locally sourced, I was reassured that these ingredients had been supplied by Essential Trading, a Bristol-based wholesaler specialising in organic and Fairtrade products.
The curry was accompanied by raw kale in a crème fraiche dressing with sunflower seeds and romanesco with sweet and sour onions, raisins and capers.
Although I had some reservations about raw kale (it won’t win any prizes for the most indulgent-sounding side dish), I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The crème fraiche and seeds worked their magic, banishing disappointed whispers about munching on uncooked leafy greens.
The roasted romanesco of course looked stunning, with bright pink ribbons of marinated onion on top. This side was seriously good – sweet, sour, salty and veg-based. All the yum.
Pudding was a tangy and fresh blueberry fool. It was a delicious light dessert that I think would be relatively simple to recreate at home when soft fruit season rolls back around.
The meal was rounded off with whole fresh figs. If there’s one thing better than a plate of fresh figs doing the rounds, it’s a surprise plate of fresh figs. These were gorgeously refreshing – creamy thin skins with glistening ruby-red insides. They were slightly smaller and way tastier than their supermarket-bought counterparts which is how I feel able to justify snaffling three of them from our communal plate. Sorry, Sue of Stoke Newington.
As you will have gathered if you’ve read this far, the menu was entirely veggie and it is apparent that future Supper Clubs are likely to continue in this vein. I thoroughly enjoyed our meat-free meal but it might be worth checking with the Duke what they have in store if you’re planning to take along a vegetable-sceptic.
An evening spent at Riverford’s Secret Supper Club is an evening spent eating good, interesting food and making conversation with (probably) good, interesting and new people. I’d love to return.