Posted on Tuesday, 2nd February 2010
I first heard about the concept of a ‘bed bar’ from watching Sex & the City years ago. (If you’re a serious fan like me and have watched every episode over and over again, then you’ll know the episode that I mean). It inspired me to visit The Bed Bar in New York which didn’t look nearly as glamorous as the staged version on the TV show, and co-incidentally is now closed.
The Supperclub London recently opened in Notting Hill and incorporates the use of ‘beds’ as well. The iconic original is the one in Amsterdam, and from its origins there it has spawned a number of branches around the world. A ‘supper’ venue, there are also two bars to choose from, a string of eccentric performances for your entertainment pleasure, and a live DJ. The theme is outlandishness, and no better way to reinforce this fact than the staff who are all dolled out in kooky electric dress. I have never been to the one in Amsterdam but I thought it might be fun to try out the London venue so that I could test out its ‘supper’ element.
Situated in a former nightclub, the Supperclub is located in a grungier part of Notting Hill, right under the A40 on Aklam Road. The entrance first leads you into the greeting area, after which you are ushered into the main bar where there are lounge seats. You need to know your drink of choice because if you ask for a cocktail menu, then you might, like me, be greeted by a barman dressed in a sailor’s costume telling you that ‘he’ is the cocktail menu. At this stage the venue doesn’t have one.
Between 8.15pm and 8.30pm, the doors that connect the bar to the dining area swing open to reveal a very white, square-ish room, which, on the night of my visit, induced a collective gasp of awe from the clientele when the doors flung open. There are two floors, and there are beds on both levels which run along the walls. The second floor gives you a balcony view of the first floor, but this was closed when I was there. There are also ‘proper’ dining tables in the middle of the ground floor area (which I don’t think would have been any fun to eat at), and a stage located at one end of the room.
The beds are connected to each other and so it turned out to be handy that I requested, and got, a corner bed. This seemed to be in the best position in the house as it meant I only had diners to my left rather than to both sides of me. But it also meant my view of the performances (mainly drag) was obscured by some structural columns, which judging by the quality of the acts wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The beds are nice with lots of fluffy pillows. There’s ample room for lounging if there are only two of you but there seems to only be enough space for sitting upright if you’re a big group. The sheets are all white and so very easy to soil – if you happen to spill food that is!
All four courses in the set menu (£45) are fixed, with alternative choices being available only for specific dietary requirements. There’s just the one sitting, so all the diners (about 60 covers when I was there) are served at the same time with the advantage for the venue being that they can cook the food as if it is one big production line. We started with a broccoli soup with blue cheese foam which was pleasant but unspectacular.
Next was pan-fried sea bream with curried pumpkin and tofu. The fish was nicely seasoned and very fresh, but there was no discernible tasty of curry to the pumpkin and the tofu was very bland. The pumpkin and tofu was topped with some caramel, the use of which didn’t complement these sides.
The meat dish was steak with bok choy and black bean purée. The steak was very tender but very salty. The bok choy was over seasoned too, and when eaten with the purée which was also very salty, the dish became very unappetising. The flavours jarred.
Dessert was a chocolate ganache which was reasonably tasty, although it was a little bit sugary rather than ‘chocolately rich’. It was accompanied by an Earl Grey granite which was very pleasant, and a concoction that I was told was a puff pastry, but which resembled more of an soft cookie crumble that was best left alone.
Like the cocktail list, the menu doesn’t exist. We therefore had to rely on the waiting staff to tell us what each of the dishes were. But this didn’t work particularly well as they didn’t quite know – I got a lot of ‘I don’t know’ answers to my questions – and service on the whole was unremarkable. It wasn’t unpleasant, but this wasn’t the service one would expect from one’s usual restaurant. We were occasionally given four sets of cutlery when there were only two of us. One got the sense that service here can be a little bit ad hoc.
Despite the name, food isn’t a main focus at the Supperclub, which on the whole was very average. But I did enjoy the evening hugely – the concept is entertaining, and it was fun to buy into the gimmick that is the Supperclub brand for the night. It’s great to try once, but I’m not sure I would go again for the ‘club’ experience, and I would certainly not go again for the food.