Long-standing Matt and Cat followers might recall our dining club, which ran for several years. Members could enjoy discounts at various selected Island eateries, but the buzz for us was hosting our monthly dinners. We have made some long-standing friends of our dining club members and many of them, too, made friends with each other. We were the guests of some spectacular venues, all of which laid on something special that regular punters couldn’t get as a walk-up. From a deer safari with the Seaview Hotel, to chocolate with EVERY course at Chocolate Apothecary, and who could forget the famous ‘Art on a Plate’ at Quay Arts where our guests were horrified and delighted to be served an actual chicken head. Actually, make that just horrified!
Of course, we had access to some of the Isle of Wight’s most creative restaurants. However, the new movement in stranger dining is not to eat with a bunch of fresh faces in a restaurant, but to invite them into your home. Bringing his own version of the supper club concept to the Island is Yorkshireman Paul Thorley. Having won Come Dine With Me, his appetite for home cooking has been well and truly whetted. We were delighted to be invited to be guinea pigs for the first ‘Something Yummy‘ supper club.
We’ve never watched Come Dine With Me, although we have had many suppers in our friends’ houses. Cat, certainly, was expecting something quite homely but, as soon as we arrived, it was obvious that Paul was taking this supper club extremely seriously. He’d recruited his son, hospitality student Callum, to wait on and generally look after us. Callum was dressed the part as a smart front-of-house, and even sported a switch of pinnies for the coffees, so he clearly meant business too.
The table was laid in a very grand manner, with hefty crystal tumblers, polished cutlery and flamboyant vase of flowers, which Callum kindly moved so that we could see who we were sitting opposite. One of the obvious appeals of the supper club is getting to know new people. As it happened, we already knew two of the other four diners, but that’s the Isle of Wight for you – six degrees and all that.
Following home-made tomato bread with Isle of Wight-shaped butter, we had a trio of nicely-presented canapés to start. Belly pork, with hoisin and noodles (Matt liked this a lot), Isle of Wight tomato tart and what was billed as ‘Yorkshire supper’ – a tiny bowl of fish and matchstick chips.
Our starter was goats cheese cheesecake, presented in a corral of beetroot and lambs lettuce, with balsamic reduction. Greenbarn goats cheese is always a creamy favourite of ours and was a good local ingredient with which to make this delicate morsel. The balsamic had been reduced to the consistency of toffee; a rich flavour but chewier than one might conventionally want.
Cat was very much looking forward to the warm mushroom mousse. It was served in a pretty vintage tea cup and garnished with truffle oil and walnuts. Paul had added a generous allowance of black pepper to this dish, but the mushrooms might well have been best left unseasoned in this way, revealing their own gentle flavour enriched with the truffle oil.
Any one of these seafoods might have presented a cooking challenge to us and, with this dish Paul was showing off his skills. Gentle seabass was served with a large shell-on crevette and a few mussels, duchess potatoes and greens. The game-changer on the plate was the mussel veloute, a stand-out sauce which complimented the fish, molluscs and crustacean.
Billed as blackberry sorbet, we ended up drinking our palate-cleanser as a shot and all agreed that this consistency suited this intense dish. In fact, a colder temperature might have adversely affected its concentrated hedgerow fruit flavour. This was a high-scorer around the table.
We could probably manage to feed six people at a push, but there might need to be some washing up done between courses. At the Something Yummy supper club the crockery kept coming, and Paul saved the sexy matt black plates til last to showcase his signature lemon tart. Served with a dollop of clotted cream and a home-made macaron, Paul was once again demonstrating his versatility.
As Callum smoothly served hot drinks, having donned his barista’s apron, we snaffled these mildly-laced chocolate truffles.
Overall the Something Yummy supper club was a pleasure. The food had some real moments of flavour and culinary expertise. Of course, there was perhaps the occasional issue with timing but, on our side of the kitchen, these went practically unnoticed. It was clear that Paul took his supper club duties seriously and his fastidiousness paid off.
Paul has talent and ambition, plus a good team with his son helping in both the front of house and the kitchen. We wish Paul well with all future culinary endeavours and thank him for inviting us to his first Something Yummy supper club.
You can join in too – there’s another event like this coming up, with a different menu. The next Something Yummy supper club is on Friday 22 November 2019 – details are here on Facebook.