I have a theory that it takes a certain kind of person to sign up to a supper club; you’re either a dedicated foodie, a boundless extrovert or the mate who got dragged along as their wingman.
My boyfriend Ben and I (both an even mix of the first and third), have a tiny pinch of the second to get us through life’s usual social encounters. Not enough to prevent us from having some trepidation about Friday night’s Bosh event, though. As our very first supper club, it was the promise of delightful founder Juliet Clarke’s imaginative Italian menu which tempted us to confront our inner introverts.
Since their launch in 2012, the Bristol-based caterer’s creative use of super-fresh local ingredients has earned them a growing band of merry followers. In fact, this latest event marked their busiest 24 hours yet, with both their largest cake order and their most populous dining event falling on the very same day. No pressure then.
Happily, Juliet and her team rose to the occasion with ease, greeting the diners descending on Bedminster’s Elephant House with friendly smiles, chilled water and huge ice buckets for our booze (it’s BYO, which makes for a bargain night out!). Two long communal tables were topped with piled-high baskets of thick-sliced Harts’s Bread, too – it was so tasty we’ve now promised ourselves a weekly pilgrimage to the Temple Meads bakery.
I admit, my faint heart had skipped a beat when I realised the evening was being held in a community hall. What would the atmosphere be like? How would they make the space feel welcoming? But I needn’t have worried; colourful bunting, twinkling fairy lights and audio-absorbing rugs soften the edges nicely.
We grabbed a seat and quickly set about pouring our first glass of Pinot Grigio. We’d brought two bottles, just for good measure. I suspect we weren’t the only ones to employ this age-old relaxation technique! Within 30 minutes it seemed the shackles of traditional British formality had all but melted away. Amid the now enthusiastic chatter, plates of marinated aubergines, cauliflower salad and chickpea, rosemary and courgette crostini were placed on the table. It’s testament to the food’s delicious flavours that people paused to praise the fragrant coriander in the cauliflower salad! What’s more, the wafer-thin crostini had that satisfying crunch.
As our first bottle began to empty, we were delightedly sharing stories with our new pals and beginning to feel entirely at home. Soon after, enormous plates of meltingly tender slow-cooked pork proudly arrived, momentarily stealing everyone’s gaze. Accompanying bowls of zingy al dente greens and an excellent borlotti bean salad had everyone jostling for seconds (and made a refreshing change from serving up potatoes or fries alongside a slow-cooked supper).
Ben, ever the culinary vagabond, had skipped the pork and plumped for the vegetarian option instead. A firm yet light adaptation of traditional gnocchi, this sweet potato version was balanced by earthy sage and a sweet squash fondant. Unique, delicious and certainly no afterthought.
By this point, we were on bottle number two! Fully immersed in the lives and times of our fellow diners the room had grown so loud with laughter that we found ourselves having to raise our voices above the din.
The finale arrived just in time to save our vocal chords, A so-good-I-don’t-care-I’m-not-hungry dark chocolate and caramel torte. The menu claimed it to be “ridiculous”, and that it was. So salty it was almost savoury (and all the better for it). This was a grown-up decadent chocolate cake soothed only by a dollop of creamy mascarpone. To top things off, it had a nonchalant sprinkling of hazelnuts. I finished every last bite. And then scooped up the caramel sauce.
As we drifted into the depths of Friday night, attendees began to filter out. No doubt, in search of more booze. We soon found ourselves finishing our last glass of wine and ready to do the same.
Still with our charming new friends, Bosh earns a badge of honour for providing such a good time! None of us were ready to go home. Instead, our impromptu gang ambled up to The Old Bookshop for a late-night pint. Who were we with? Well, two ardent foodies and a fantastically outgoing Aussie, of course. How else could I have developed my supper club theory?