Written by Shona ODonnell
It’s been planned for a very long time. Saturday the 29th, N and I are off to the V&A for the More than the Plate exhibition at 11am, after that we plan to eat, drink and be merry. Then I hear that there is new Supper Club run by my friends at WeFiFo, hosted by chums legendary chef Cyrus Todiwala OBE, DL and the world’s most famous greengrocer, Gregg Wallace, but it starts at 12.30. So, I get on the phone to the V&A and they are just brilliant and move our tickets to the first show of the day at 10am which I would recommend as it’s lovely and quiet. So, we spend a happy hour and a bit wandering (this is a great exhibition and very thought provoking), and all of a sudden it’s 12.15 and we need to be in Tower Hill in 15 minutes. We arrive at Cyrus’s restaurant, Café Spice Namasté, at about 1pm, a little flustered and hot, well it is 34 degrees in London.
After a brief chastising from Gregg, we get checked in and slot into a table. It’s an interesting crowd, drawn from fans of both our hosts.
At today’s lunch is Matthew, punting his New Zealand wines. While N goes for an Indian inspired bellini, I try the pinot gris in an attempt to see off the hangover from last night’s Hinge date. Does it work? That’s anyone’s guess but you know me, I’m a trooper, so I power through.
It has to be said, it would be hard to find a better hosting pair than Cyrus and Gregg; they are warm, incredibly funny and have an endless stream of brilliant stories to share.
Lunch is endlessly entertaining. It’s clear that they are friends. I won’t share the stories but encourage you to go as they are so much better first hand.
We start with toasted brioche and tomato soup which is great. Despite the incredible heat, the restaurant is thankfully cool and Cyrus explains that warm drinks and food are better at cooling you on hot days and that in the kitchen they always have warm or tepid drinks. It’s sweet and packed with flavour and this is from someone who doesn’t really love tomato soup. N is a celiac and she has a delicious lentil soup without bread. Throughout the entire lunch, she was very well looked after.
Service is very relaxed and we have a good opportunity to enjoy Gregg’s company and get to know our fellow diners while we wait for the next course. This is good for me as I hate feeling rushed and I’m a really slow eater.
The next dish is prawn cocktail a’la bardez on oriental coleslaw, don’t ask me what a’la bardez is, I don’t know. Oh, I do know, I bloody love a prawn cocktail and this was delicious, creamy and rich, studded with sweet prawns. On the side are perfectly cooked hake goujons with a lovely mouth warming heat, served on a bed of glass noodles. I loved this dish and would have happily eaten more.
Our mains are a strange mixture of dishes, all very good but that don’t quite work as a plate of food. The roast chicken thigh (for me often the best cut), cooked in ginger and honey is juicy and sweet, it falls apart at the suggestion of a fork. With it are two ramekins, one of Grandma Todiwala’s baked spiced cauliflower and kidney beans, which for me contains no kidney beans at all but all sorts of other good stuff. Cyrus explains his grandmother made this as a leftover dish, adding anything left in the kitchen. I get cauliflower and macaroni, for me it’s cheesy, comforting heaven. I also love the soft, fragrant, cumin spiced boulangere potatoes. The flavours gentle , the potato just on the right side of soft. I love everything on the plate but it feels a little out of kilter, all of it delicious but the two sides being in ramekins make it feel disjointed.
Dessert is a dish made famous when Cyrus cooked for the queen at her diamond jubilee in 2012. I am not a pudding lover and much less bread and butter pudding but this is quite light and spiced with orange and cinnamon and served with a cardamon cream.
Lunch is over. Gregg is off home to his new baby, Cyrus off to his other kitchen to cook and we are astonished to find we have wine left (of course we ordered a bottle in the end) and thankfully Pervin, Cyrus’s wife, is not in a rush and we spend another 30 minutes chatting with some of the other guests.
Our bellies full, we wander off to Borough in the baking heat in search of friends and ice cold rose.
Gregg and Cyrus will be teaming up again to host a spectacular Supper Club in Cyrus’ iconic restaurant Mr Todiawala’s Kitchen in Canary Wharf. Click here to join the table.