The Downing Street Deli, Farnham GU9 7PB - supper club review
PUBLISHED: 13:21 20 September 2017 | UPDATED: 07:54 21 September 2017
Foodie store by day and gourmet supper club by night, The Downing Street Deli in Farnham has some serious Surrey food and drink pedigree behind it. Matthew Williams visits this hidden gem for a sparkling night of creative cuisine
With all the ‘he said/she said’ chaos surrounding Downing Street these days, I wonder if a supper club might be the best way to get all split parties and personalities in a room together? A few drops of wine, food to make the heart sing, homely surrounds and we’d have made Britain great again – or whatever the current phrase du jour is (whoops, slipped into French for a second) – by the end of the night…
Fortunately, my own desperate urge to escape the ‘headline of the day’ madness met perfectly with a kind invitation recently, and I found myself sitting in, well, Downing Street actually.
(Hang on, that’s not the way it’s meant to happen. I’m not sure I ever had the ambition for pulling at the strings of global politics. But, no, relief… this is Farnham’s namesake, and this architectural wonder is better known for its creativity and craft than any dexterous ability with the truth.)
The call from David Alders, formerly of The Three Horseshoes pub in Thursley, came rather out of the blue. “We’ve started holding a few supper clubs at our deli and they seem to be going down quite well – fancy joining us?”
For what in my eyes is arguably Surrey’s most beautiful town and with an affluent potential clientele in the area, it’s always surprised me that independent restaurants have struggled to thrive in Farnham – so the invitation was too intriguing to ignore.
I suppose it’s fair to say that I had less idea about what to expect from the evening than I do about Brexit, but my previous visits to The Three Horseshoes had always been sterling so my hopes for Downing Street Deli’s gourmet supper club were high.
Like Cellar Wines in Ripley (reviewed in September’s Surrey Life) this is an active shop during the day that sweeps away the obstructions on occasional evenings so that people can explore their foodie desires.
It’s called a supper club but, to give you a quick idea of the ambitions and ability of the place, I’ll quickly list the canapés: humble but delicious parsnip crisps quickly moved into epic rosette restaurant territory with stuffed courgette flower tempura and fresh south coast crab and mascarpone, samphire and crab jus; seared tuna, soya and ginger marinade and fresh wasabi mayonnaise and bottarga (salted and cured fish roe); and wild goose rillette with apple sauce and music bread. Each one was a little bite of magic, but if you could buy those rillettes in packs, I’d happily sit through a film snacking on them. Moreish.
With conversation easy in the room despite so many first time introductions and the wine flowing, a deep and dreamy wild mushroom risotto came next with girolles, poached quails eggs, shaved summer truffles, Farnham fields “River Wey” wild watercress (foraged by Pete, a gentleman seated at our table who fell in love with the activity once he’d retired) and aged parmesan.
Coming in at a little over £40 per head and with some supremely drinkable house wines on offer by the glass or bottle, this gourmet feast was already looking like fantastic value for money – and then the mains arrived.
Succulent Bayonne pork belly confit ably supported by Scottish scallops, Alsace pancetta, Emmental velouté, Granny Smith apple, roasted bouchon ceps and pickled cockles. When reading the menu I’d worried there might be a few too many ingredients on this one, but the marriage worked perfectly - walking hills and valleys across the palate.
An explosion of Gorgonzola on walnut and sultana croute with dolce, truffled honey and roasted pistachio followed and was a taste sensation I could return to again and again. The passion fruit sorbet with fresh passion fruit set things up nicely for the burnt honey custard tart and honeycomb ice cream with Farnham fields blackberries and a brandy snap tuile. Through it all we’d barely stopped talking with our new supper club friends and by the end of the evening I don’t think anyone really wanted to leave, so the chance of a coffee with amaretti biscuits and Amalfi lemon curd and hazelnut chocolate truffles gave a final opportunity to relax and put the world to rights.
I’ve been extremely fortunate to eat at some excellent restaurants (both permanent and pop-up) over the years but wouldn’t hesitate to highly recommend these monthly Downing Street Deli events. I’ve absolutely no doubt they’d help Boris and Theresa to set aside their differences too - well, at least for one evening.
• The Downing Street Deli, 18 Downing Street, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7PB. Tel: 07940 715579. Web: www.downingstreetdeli.co.uk