This Saturday Blacks members club in Soho will play host to the third and final night of a series of sell-out dinners from London Street Foodie Victoria Stewart. Expect a lively night as ‘punk chef’ Carl Clarke (God Save the Clam, Rock Lobsta) turns 19th Century literary Soho on its arse with perhaps his most experimental menu to date…
‘High-concept’ is a term often associated with Carl Clarke’s food. He’s co-hosted a clam bake on a Hackney rooftop, created an almost entirely wild menu for a pop-up restaurant at this year’s Camp Bestival and smashed the Cornish Grill with a roast dinner consisting exclusively of ingredients he’d picked, foraged or killed himself. In many ways he’s his own biggest competition, which is why, for one night only, he’s taking over one of Soho’s most intimate clubs for a three course meal inspired by the invasive species currently terrorising Britain’s meadows and waterways.
“The invasive species concept isn’t for shock factor, it’s for a reason. It’s not a beardy thing, we’re not trying to save the f—ing world, here. It’s a bit of fun, it’s dark humour. But…”
– Chef Carl Clarke (Discobistro)
Downstairs at Blacks is a moody subterranean kitchen and dining room in the basement of Blacks private members club. Wood-panelled walls, crackling fires and a zero tolerance policy on tabletop tweeting makes for a fully immersive eating experience, something Carl is capitalising on by bringing in his own front of house team, which includes fellow clam bake whiz David Wolanski.
“Downstairs at Blacks is an opportunity for us to get the gloves off, food-wise, and do something that’s a little bit more prissy, a little bit more technical and a little bit theatrical than usual.”
Carl’s also roped some familiar faces into the kitchen, including long-term collaborator and former Roganic pastry chef Glyn Gordon. Guests can expect an glass of house punch and an array of creative snacks upon arrival, including ‘pirate’ jerky, a Billy Franks creation inspired by the spicy flavours of East Africa (what could be more invasive than pirates?).
The starter comes in the form of split and grilled signal crayfish (an aggressive American species, responsible for destroying 95% of the native white-clawed species since it was introduced to Britain in the late 1970s) served with confit Lady Crystal potatoes cooked in crayfish oil and a crayfish infused thousand island sauce.
“Mutjac are a very destructive species. They will eat the sh— out of anything that’s their height.”
Muntjac, an undersung species of deer originally hailing from South-East Asia, takes the spotlight as the main course. Texturally the meat from this furtive killer is wonderfully giving, much like lamb, albeit with less fat. When caught young, this type of venison is flavoursome and ludicrously tender. The ‘Bucklebury chop’, much like the Barnsley chop, is a cut which has fallen out of fashion in recent years, but essentially essentially it’s a double sided chop taken from right across the saddle.
To end the meal is a flavour combination that Glyn has been playing with for a while: rose hip jam on toast. On the plate it’s a brown bread mousse, made from cream infused with toasted brown bread and an emulsification of butter and salt to give the impression of buttered toast, with a semi-liquid centre of rose hip gel. And then there’s the Lucky Bag…
“When you were a kid, Lucky Bags were brilliant. It was a big old bag and inside were sweets and sherberts. It’s a fond childhood memory. I did one for Burger Monday. It’ll be far out there. Temporary tattoos, ‘spunk’ and plenty of other nostalgic surprises.”
Tickets for this one off event are available at £48 per person, which includes a glass of house punch, snacks, three courses and a Lucky Bag. Buy directly through Blacks Club via Moira: 020 7734 5399 / firstname.lastname@example.org (have payment details ready).
Soda bread, whipped salted butter, pickled green elder, popped millet, devilled pig skin, ‘pirate’ jerky.
Never Mind the Scallops:
Signal crayfish, Lady Crystal potatoes, river celery, sprouting buckwheat, buttermilk.
Who Killed Bambi:
Muntjac Bucklebury chop, white radish, cornshoots, sour grapes, pickled bilberry, dried pig’s blood.
Brown Bread Rosehip and custard.
Plus: Invaders Must Die ‘Lucky Bags’.