Supper Clubs are a new way of eating in London. Also sometimes known as "pop-up" restaurants or "underground dining", they are essentially part-time restaurants, that are often held in people's home or other, sometimes temporary, venues that are not normally used as a restaurant. They are great for meeting new people. Most supperclubs are commercial - we are the the first, possibly still the only, supperclub run for charity in London.
The benefits of eating at a supperclub
You get to eat in venues that you would not normally get access to. This includes peoples' homes, and other interesting venues
You get to eat food that is often hard to find in restaurants. Of course this depends on the type of supperclub (some are bigger than restaurants), but in our case, much of what we serve are "homestyle" dishes of exotic origin, that our friends and family have taught us to cook. Several of them would only be served at large family gatherings and special occasions. "Home made" food of course means that we take the same care to cook for you as we would cooking for our family - no nasty additives etc.
You get to meet other people. This is one of the key features of a supperclub, but again, depends on the venue. Some have many small tables, and you might for instance be stuck on a table of 4 people with 2 people you don't really get on with, for the whole evening. In our case we have one large table seating 14, so there are a selection of people around you to talk with, and also we don't seat people immediately since we have a drawing room for drinks first. Thus you can "meet and mingle" and choose who you'd like to sit next to. It's a great way of meeting new people and I've been delighted to see some guests come back again with people they've met here.
BYO. Most supperclubs are not licenced. If they serve you alcohol, it's likely against the law. We don't do it here unless it was donated. But of course it does keep your bills down as we also don't charge corkage and you can bring your favourite wine! - beware though, you're usually expected to share it! But others will share theirs with you too in the spirit of conviviality.
The drawbacks of eating at a supperclub (and why we are the best!)
Paying in advance. Because these venues do not usually have a street frontage with signage etc, they do not get any passing trade. Thus all reservations should be made on the internet or directly with the hosts. This is also why you have to pay for supperclubs in advance. As we buy all the food in advance and prepare it for you, if you don't actually pay the hosts will be out of pocket, as they cannot, like restaurants, get passing trade dropping in to eat up your meal. You are of course welcome to get someone else to come in your place, and we will do our best to reallocate your space, however in cases of sudden illness and short notice sometimes it's difficult, even if we have a waiting list. Of course the great news is that it was a charitable donation to MSF, so whilst you are lying there ill in bed, you can still feel good about yourself.
Not much choice on the menu. Supperclubs are not restaurants, don't serve people every day, and so can't cope with lots of unused food. Often the menu will be fixed or with limited choice. In our case that is not a problem, as we serve all our food family-style - so you get to try everything. And with the average number of dishes at our supperclub weighing in at around 12, there's no shortage of choice to find something you like/aren't allergic to etc. The good news is that our menus are published in advance so if you don't fancy it, don't book it and book one you fancy!! We do what it says on the tin.
Popularity. This is a double-edged sword. If it's too popular, you can struggle to get a space; we are always fully booked - it can be tough to get a place but in general if you're fairly quick off the mark or book one of the more offbeat ones, you can get a seat. If someone keeps missing out we'll be sure to sneak them in somewhere. However, I've also heard of a few occasions (not here) where people have said they spent all night with 3 other people because it was not well attended. Fine if you get on.... not so great if not.