The Maven Supper Club

themavenA few months back I asked people on twitter for a few bar suggestions in Leeds, The Maven was top of the list, and when you visit you can see why. If you’re not looking for The Maven, you can easily miss it – It’s upstairs on Calls Lane through the anonymous looking doorway.

Our booking was unconventional, I received an invite from Culture Vultures on the Thursday asking if we’d like to attend. We didn’t have plans, and our planned food would last until Saturday – so I snapped up the chance. Our table was booked for 8:30 and we shared with Yelp blogger Rowena and her guest Matt from Leeds Food & Drink. I received an email on the day with with a door code in it – I had no idea there was a secret hidden room!

The Maven Supper Club is a collaboration between Nino (owner of The Maven), and Richard Walton-Allen (former executive chef at Harvey Nichols) who met when they worked together at Harvey Nichols. The idea came one afternoon a couple of months back when the pair were chatting about the limited choices for late night food in Leeds.

The menu for the evening of Friday May 3rd was:

Goats cheese, wild garlic, walnuts
Cod, crab and brandard, grilled leek
Pork cheek, belly and rib, peanut and lime
Orange tart, Bavarian orange cream
Chocolate salt caramel slice

In the secret room (to the right as you go in to the main bar) there is a separate bar, and about 30 seats. When we were seated, the lack of catering facilities became obvious! The chefs were set up at the end of the bar – this was actually fascinating to watch. There was no obvious chaos, everything seemed to have been planned perfectly.

Maven Supperclub bar and kitchen The Maven Supperclub meny and table setting

I knew the food was going to be special when I saw the ‘Walton-Allen’ email address with the door code. Everything I ate was perfect. As I sit here and try to pick a favourite course, it’s incredibly hard. I think it would be the pork. Every mouthful was bursting with flavour and it’s not hard to see why when you see how Richard describes the dish…

“Three ‘poorer’ cuts of pork from Yorkshire gilt pigs. The cheek was fully trimmed then braised with Chinese golden rock sugar tamarind, soy sauce and ginger.
Fatty spare ribs were pressure cooked for 2 hours with lemon, star anise, and pepper then roasted with honey and salt, the meat was then picked off bone. Belly was cooked for 6 hours with salt, paprika and brown sugar and served with lime juice, dressed water cress coriander and peanuts.
This brought together Asian techniques and flavours with the best Yorkshire pork and three day’s work!”

There was a slight mix up in that we didn’t get the orange tart at the point we should have done. However, once this was realised (and we couldn’t stick around due to trains back), we were sent home with the tart, cream and a plate to eat it from – I’m amazed it made it home in one piece, but it did and I ate it the following day. For me, this was the surprise from the menu, I dont usually like orange flavours in food. It was so light and the pastry so thin. It was so nice, I’d order this from a menu again.

Richard said for this first event he chose food which he enjoys eating himself and which highlight the great ingredients around us in Yorkshire. The preparation for the event took four days.

There are plans afoot for more supper club events, each will have a different menu and is accompanied by a selection of specially chosen cocktails. This evenings menu was priced at £26 – an absolute bargain for the atmosphere, quality of food and service we received.

I think that when the date is announced for the next event, you’ll need to be quick to get a ticket! Follow @themavenbar and @chefwaltonallen on twitter to keep up to date.

The bar is open until 4am so there’s no pressure to finish your food and leave. You could make a full night of it with some after dinner cocktails.

I was very lucky to receive the offer of food at the supper club, in exchange for this blog post. I have written my honest opinion of the evening.

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