Tag Archives: Crouch End

A Crouch End supper club with the fam.

I love eating out, but I also love gathering family and friends around me and eating in (neither of which have I done enough of in recent years). Last Saturday I managed to do both at the same time! How did I do that I hear you ask…by attending a supper club, the Crouch End Secret Supper Club, the perfect marriage of eating out whilst feeling as though you’re eating in. And, I had the loveliest evening.

I’d been to this particular supper club once before when S & S took me as a birthday treat and this time the tables were turned as I was taking them out to celebrate their birthdays.

As S & S live between us and the supper club we agreed that we’d just call for them on our way there which was really just an excuse to sneak a peek at their ridiculously cute new puppy, DJ, he’s so funny and really quite odd looking. He seemed to be interested in everything and everyone and looked more like a wind-up toy than a dog (especially when doing his backward walking – his favourite). DJ 1

DJ the pomeranian – he’s at least half fluff!

DJ 2

He’s nine weeks old here – so sweet.

Now, I have to say (yes J I know it’s pointless but, humans will be humans) that the Crouch End Secret Supper Club will, almost certainly, give you house envy and, if you’re female, it may also give you woman envy because Catherine, the co-host, comes across as a bit of a superwoman, to say the least…the very least (sorry, that’s a Grease reference). The last time I went, Catherine had just flown in the day before from a work trip to China and she still had the energy to join her twenty five guests at the end of the evening for a chat and a glass of wine – I’d have been tucked up, fast asleep, under a duvet (or curled up in a ball in the kitchen, pulling my hair out).

When S & S and I went last time, we didn’t talk to the other diners much and, though I’d really enjoyed myself, I didn’t feel as though I’d had a proper supper club experience. But, I knew that I wanted to go back again. So, it’d seem a little odd, to go again but in an even bigger group, right? Wrong. I think because there were so many of us (six), it meant that those of us that wanted to mingle could do so easily without feeling like we were ignoring the people that we’d come with and we’d chosen a good night to attend because everyone seemed in a talkative and friendly mood.

CESS fellow diners

Two of our fellow diners, they’d heard about the supper club because Catherine and Robert had opened their home up a few weeks back as part of the Crouch End Open Studios (they have lots of wonderful paintings on show in the ‘dining’ room).

We were met at the door by a smiling Catherine who ushered us through to the dining room which was configured in a different way to my last visit and somehow looked more restaurant like.

CESS tables

It was a lovely, warm evening and the dining room doors had been completely opened so that the room merged with the garden. Several diners had already arrived by the time we got there and most were taking advantage of the balmy weather, perching on the decked patio or venturing further afield into the stepped garden. We were brought our welcome cocktail, a golden mojito, and settled ourselves in to the outdoor kitchen area beyond the decking to await A’s arrival.

 

CESS Sunlight golden mojito

Mmm mmm mmm, enjoying my golden cocktail bathed in golden sunlight. Mwah ha.

CESS crab rangoons

Crab rangoons (not sure if these are rangoons as they’re shaped differently to those of the other guests) made especially for me. Thank you so much to the supper club for the enormous effort put in to accommodate my unfortunate (allium) allergy.

 

 

CESS chatting

 

CESS a table

A, D, S & S and J, all behaving beautifully, seated and ready to chow down.

The supper club provides still and sparkling water but if you’re wanting to drink anything else you best bring it with you. We took a very modest three bottles of wine and a classy carton of orange juice!

CESS risotto

First course ‘proper’ Broad bean and asparagus risotto which was beautifully cooked and flavoursome.

Unfortunately my phone camera can’t really cope with low lighting and, as the evening progressed and the light outside faded, candles were lit and the lighting inside was kept at ambient. My photo taking gave up the ghost and I just got on with enjoying the food, the lovely service, the atmosphere and the company.

CESS sorbet

This was meant to be a gooseberry palate cleanser but because of a dearth of gooseberries became a strawberry and basil sorbet instead.

The sorbet was one of the highlights of the meal for me, just because it was so intensely flavoured but still had such a freshness and lightness about it. The risotto was also high on my list of favourites and a special mention must also go to the chicken which was wonderfully tender and the chocolate fondant which was just oozing with gooey chocolatey richness.

One of the downsides of the crappy past few weeks that I’ve had, of which I’ve not talked much about, is that I’m finding that I get very very tired, very easily so, by the time we had eaten the main course I was flagging slightly. I don’t disagree with the decision they took to show England’s first World Cup game, but I do think that it changed the atmosphere -making it different, not worse – and I struggled to keep my head in the evening from then on.

CESS Catherine at work

Catherine at work in the kitchen which is at the front of the house and overlooks the dining room. Genuis.

Of course the food is good, but what really strikes me about this supper club is the scale of it, from the number of guests (it’s a pretty slick operation – there’s no way that I could serve perfectly cooked chicken to twenty plus people at the same time and, more to the point, on time!) to the number of courses. And the effort that Catherine and Robert go to to make the evening enjoyable and a success is incredible. I think that every savoury dish they served had garlic or onions in it and I was served the same menu as everybody else except that my courses had been cooked absolutely from scratch (meaning that where a bought (organic, of course) stock may have been used, a stock was made for me to ensure that there were no traces of anything at all that might react badly with me) now THAT is service. I felt a bit bad because I can actually eat cooked onions with no ill effect (I did say this in my email) and I can eat the things that I can’t eat (if you see what I mean), I just have to eat them in very small quantities and they will still make me feel ill. But, I suppose, it’s easier (on the mind) to err on the side of caution with these things.

There was a big group of people there, also celebrating a birthday, and Catherine had gone to the trouble of baking a cake for the birthday girl on top of everything else.

I’m absolutely sure that I’ll return to this supper club, as they concentrate on cooking seasonally maybe I’ll pay them a visit once per season. I’d highly recommend going, it’s a proper night out, don’t expect to be home before midnight because you’ll still be eating cheese (with home baked bread), sipping on coffee with a little homemade sweet or biscuit on the side, or slurping wine and chewing the cud with an interesting mix of people then. I, for one, am back to thinking about my (doubt it’ll ever happen) very own supper club.

Don’t eat much all day, don’t wear anything too fitted and book yourself a taxi – that’s my advice.

CESS Lollipop head golden mojito

Final bonus photo. This had me cracking up, I look like a ‘lollipop’ head (or as though my head has been stuck on) which is kind of funny when you consider the shape and size of my body.

Music to blog to….

 

 

 

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A Crouch End weekend for my dad and me.

Last weekend saw me heading into Crouch End on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s visit was a last minute decision as, when checking out the Sunday timings for the NEW CINEMA IN CROUCH END, ArtHouse Crouch End (@arthousen8), I noticed that they had a matinée showing on the Saturday and I just love the idea of sloping off to the cinema of an afternoon (though I’ve not much done it). The film in question was ‘Lift to the scaffold‘, a beautiful and stylish French film noir-esque offering, directed by Louis Malle and starring (a stupidly stunningly sensuous and pouty) Jeanne Moureau. With an incredible soundtrack by Miles Davis, it was a perfect choice for an afternoon of self indulgence.

I can’t express how excited I am to have a cinema in Crouch End and it’s a delight, there’s a café area serving the best lattes I’ve had in an age as well as tasty looking (can hardly say tasty as I’ve not tasted them!) cakes with a licensed bar that doubles as the box office. Simply decorated and elegant, this is a place I can see myself returning to time and time again. There will be a live venue too (which may or may not double up as the second screen). Gosh I love this place.

ArtHouse N8 exterior

The view from the road.

ArtHouse bar and box office ArtHouse coffee and cake

Box office, coffee shop and bar, all rolled into one.

ArtHouse natas

The obligatory (for North London, at least) natas….and thank goodness for that. Actually, come to think of it I have tried one as I bought one from the ArtHouse deli across the road.

ArtHouse tulip floor and step

A single tulip on my table. Though it’s the flooring that I was attracted to.

ArtHouse cafe seating

A sneak little peak of things to come..

And the cinema itself?…. Love love LOVE it. It is pretty tiny and it feels as though you’re at a really cute private screening but…it’s definitely a cinema. Good sound, good picture. Some seats are better than others space wise (it’s allocated seating) and, if I were you I’d stay away from the outer/wall seats.

On Sunday I took my dad out for lunch and chose Earl Haig Hall, known as The Social, as I’ve been meaning to go for a while and, as my dad doesn’t get out and about that much, I think that it’s nice for us to go to new places when we go out for lunch (also, it’s so close to the ArtHouse).

Earl Haig Hall exterior

As the board says…ALL WELCOME

The Hall is part of the Antic group of pubs but it really does feel more like a social club, they’ve kept lots of the original fixtures and fittings –  and their website says they’re open to ideas for events/community projects. When we were there there was a great mix of people and ages, it felt really cool (as in, sweet and relaxed and friendly) and my dad felt completely comfortable. There was only one ale on but my dad said it was a good’un and, the lunch was absolutely GORGEOUS. I had the belly of pork and my dad had the beef. I must say, I’m loving the way all roasts come with a yorkshire pudding these days – so there’s no need for me to bother myself with roast beef (not my favourite).

Daddy pulling his surprised look

Daddy pulling his ‘quizzical’ face. Too cute.

Earl Haig roast belly pork

Yum yum yum for my tum. Lots of perfectly cooked vegetables and a good balance of sweet and salty. Will definitely be eating there again.

Earl Haig stage

Can totes see me enjoying an evening of ‘local’ (dunno what that is, just tripped off the tongue) theatre whilst supping a pint or two.

Earl Haig pinball

 

We rounded off our afternoon out with my second trip to the ArtHouse to FINALLY see 12 Years a Slave which was as harrowing, astonishing and brilliant as I was expecting it to be. Everything about this film is stunning and, if you haven’t seen it yet – yeh right!- I couldn’t recommend it more highly. Towards the end, I thought that someone was chuckling away but it transpired that they were howling and crying so much they were snorting. I don’t think that there was a dry eye there.

All things considered, Crouch End delivered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 6 2014

Well, I know it’s the start of a new year and all things are possible but I really don’t like the first week of January, it seems to me to be steeped in sadness.

The first week of January used to signal back to school (which I always loathed as I couldn’t think of any better way of spending my time than hanging out and mucking around with my children) and now it’s back to work and back to university (though thanks to a broken down boiler, child number one is still here), the taking down of decorations, the end of Christmas and the sudden realisation that, actually, it’s back to normality.

I know that I could see this as a new beginning, a fresh start and indeed, I do, but, that feeling of sadness wins out and never more so than today and, this today more than ever.

Today is my brother’s birthday and where once this tempered the end of Christmas and lifted our spirits with a celebration, now it just adds layers of heaviness and pain. My brother would have been 50 today. Wow, the thought has knocked me for six and what I now realise was just how young, at 33, he was when he died. I knew that he was young, of course, but as he was eight years older than me he never seemed all that young. But looking back now I feel crushed to think how much of his adult life was spent being ill and I feel AMAZED at how strong his spirit must have been, because what I remember most about my brother was how alive he was and, how well he lived. He packed in to his short life, more than many (with greater opportunity) will pack into their long lives. I love him and whilst he really did get on my nerves, I’m so tremendously glad that he was my brother.

We, my sister and I, don’t normally mark his birthday or the anniversary of his death, just a phone call to the parents and maybe, a text to each other to touch base, but there is no way on earth that he wouldn’t be celebrating reaching such a grand old age and it felt like this birthday could not be ignored.

My sister and I, our parents, and child number one, all met up for lunch at Villiers Terrace in Crouch End where we feasted on the most beautifully cooked belly of pork, drizzled with a mustard jus, with just right mash and salty, buttery greens, fish (with the most puffy/crispy batter) and chips and onglet cooked to rare with thrice cooked chips. With no room for dessert we had to just settle for coffee. We none of us mentioned the occasion, I think we’d have been in tears on the floor, but it was lovely to be able to be together.

As C and I were both driving we weren’t able to take advantage of the scrumptious cocktails they offer at Villiers but we did succumb to a couple of alcohol free ones.

So here, my beautiful, darling brother, is the drink I raised to you.

2014-01-06 14.03.00

Make mine a Virgin mojito! I know, I know.

PS. C is allergic to garlic and to anything from the onion family that hasn’t been cooked and this does make eating out rather difficult. I have to say, the chefs at Villiers were really good about ensuring that she didn’t have to go without, making up a special batch of no-garlic mustard jus for her. What else, they seem to run a monthly supper club there that sounds kind of interesting and I may well have to check it out.

An au revoir brunch with child number one

Just before sending her packing, off back to university, A and I went out for a ‘Ladies who lunch’ brunch. We pootled round Crouch End a bit and plumped for a drink and a bite to eat in The Haberdashery. I haven’t been to The Haberdashery that many times but on the few occasions that I have, I’ve enjoyed it perfectly well. It’s a quirky little place at the centre of the Barboot events (held on the first Friday evening of every month) and worth, in my opinion, supporting for that alone. Thankfully, as well as offering an interesting collection of events, they also make damn fine food and not just for brunch!

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We sat in the back room, up a small flight of stairs, which – I’m sure – used to be the garden. For some reason the waiter felt we would appreciate the quiet of the back room over the hustle and bustle of the front and I have to admit it was nice to just concentrate on chatting and eating with few distractions, though I did find it hard not to join in with a conversation a couple of tables behind us were having on what to do with their glut of plums.

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A looking like a little cutie.

Sadly, we couldn’t quite go the whole hog and quaff champagne (prosecco) as they only sell it by the bottle, and I was driving, so we made do with a big mug of tea and a coffee.

I’m writing this up some time after the event and lots of events have happened since then so, I’m afraid I can’t comment in detail on the food – I had eggy bread, I know that much, which was good but I like mine a little less bready and a whole lot more eggy (well – eggy mixture). I wanted one of their delicious looking croissants too but I couldn’t fit anything else in, they were selling like hotcakes though so even if I hadn’t have been stuffed I’d have missed out.

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They’ve just opened a Haberdashery in Stoke Newington too, which I would expect is well worth checking out if you’re in the area.

Crouch End Barboot Sale and two lovely new jewellery designers

So last Friday found me meeting up with B to check out the Barboot Sale event in Crouch End. Barboot Sale is held on the first Friday of every month, a few shops open up their doors after hours to stall holders and shoppers and some provide drinks and nibbles. Whilst I really enjoyed myself it wasn’t quite what I’d been expecting, I thought there was going to be food and drink aplenty and I’m sure I saw somewhere that there would be live music (A informed me there was live music at The Haberdashery).

A couple of the shops didn’t have much in the way of stalls and it felt more like they were hopping on the Barboot Sale bandwagon. The Haberdashery, kind of the Barboot Sale HQ I think, did it well and had stalls out front, inside and in the back garden – including my friend A and her beautiful kindle cases. Another shop that did it rather well was Little Paris, a shop I adore in any case but try not to go in to that often.

There was quite a bit of beaded jewellery of the type that I could make, ie not particularly inspired, and then there were two designers (sharing a stall in Little Paris) who just had an eye and touch for what they were doing – dear oh deer and Respice Finem. Both designers were absolutely lovely which also helps.

Below are a couple of pictures that absolutely don’t do the jewellery justice, really must work on my presentation – see!!..I just tried cropping the photos and now I look at what I’ve uploaded it’s the pre-cropped photos – doh, so please do check out their links.

Beaded chain on feather chain
Beautifully simple beaded chain