Supper clubs and small plates. Two gastronomic terms that will be very familiar if you’re a food lover such as myself.
Earlier this week, Northern Monk Refectory in Leeds held a supper club for a select number of bloggers to launch its brand new menu of beautifully crafted English small plates.
Since the fabulous Grub and Grog shop upped sticks and moved to a new bigger premises, the city’s coolest brewery had some big shoes to fill. But they’ve clearly managed to do that with the appointment of their new chef.
The supper club event began with a tour of the brewery and we were invited to sample one of Northern Monk’s limited edition brews, called ‘822’. This stunning drink burst with mango, apricot and peach in my mouth. Jake gave it his highest ranking yet on his ‘Untappd’ app.
We were then led to the first floor where four tables had been arranged into a large square with a stunning assortment of foliage decorating the centre. It was almost Pagan in its loveliness.
I should also note the gorgeous canvas bags we were presented with, which to my delight, contained cans of various Northern Monk ales.
Now onto the food. (I think I’ve kept you waiting long enough.) Oh, what a treat it was: six courses each paired with a different beer from the refectory. Supper club heaven!
First up was a light and delicious fillet of trout crowned with what tasted like slightly pickled cucumber, herbs and nasturtium leaves. Perfectly cooked, it left me wondering why I always pick up salmon at the fishmonger rather than this beautiful and somewhat underrated fish.
The next dish was a total contrast: venison tartar served with rye bread crisps. Now I don’t usually warm to tartar (excuse the pun) but this was very different – it was so rich that it almost tasted as if it had been cooked. The tiny little sun-like quails egg yolk perched on top added extra creaminess which made me very happy indeed. Thankfully, the absolutely lovely waiting staff brought out extra bread so that the remnants of my dish didn’t go uneaten.
The broad bean waffles with smoked goats cheese (smoked for six hours) were cut into very pretty little heart shapes, pleasing to the eye. However, I found these a little dry: a little more pea puree please and A LOT more of that fabulous goats cheese.
I’ve never had pistachio puree before, never mind tried it with fish. A beautifully cooked cod steak sat in a swamp of pistachio puree and sweet spring onions. I joked to An Edible Woman blogger, Phoebe, sitting next to me, that this dish reminded me of Fungus the Bogeyman. This was a somewhat cruel statement, because this dish was absolutely divine. Who knew that nutty pistachio worked so well with fish?
Onto the next dish which contained one of my favourite meats: duck. The beautiful duck breast was served slightly pink so that it retained all its delicious moisture. The richness of the meat was offset by the soft freshness of the carrots. A really stunning dish.
Finally, a simple but oh-so-English dessert: strawberry and black pepper Northern Bloc ice cream served with fresh strawberries. This was a fabulous palette cleanser. But the real star of the show was the ale that this was paired with: Northern Monk’s ‘Neapolitan’ Ice Cream Pale Ale. Ice cream and beer in a glass? Yes please!
Have you tried the new menu at Northern Monk in Leeds yet? What are your thoughts?