Saturday saw us embark on yet another secret supper journey which, we have to admit, was slightly more stressful than usual. Ellie managed to cut herself and come over all queer whilst being filmed by German TV channel ZDF – luckily Tash was on hand with blue plasters and the producer cheerfully volunteered to finish chopping the mint. Rather than holding things together for the team, I was busy spilling meat juices on the floor, burning my fingers and the bread for the bruschetta (several times) and generally swearing a lot. By the time the guests arrived, which was suddenly and seemingly unannounced, our inner perfectionists were feeling somewhat rattled.
Regardless, the dining room was alive. Yet more wonderful guests brought the restaurant to life with their laughter, enthusiasm and glass clinking. Friend, neighbour and founder of the lovely Saltoun Supper Club, Arno, jumped up from his table to give us both a hug and kindly blamed the moon for all earlier calamities whilst lovely guests Mary Rose and Phillip celebrated a 31st birthday, gifted with a bottle of wine by a table of 6 from the Independent.
We were tired and exhilarated as each course was carefully plated up and whisked out to the hungry, grateful mob beyond the living room door. With the last dollop of crème fraîche lustily scraped from every plate and the macchiato froth licked from every lip, it was time for digestion to begin. In a proper restaurant this would be the time to ask for the bill before stumbling out into the cold with bleary eyes and a full tummy, but at Salad Club it’s the moment we take off our aprons and meet the people who make every burn, cut and spill worthwhile. Cigarettes are sparked, more corks are popped and chairs are pulled up to strangers’ tables for friendly conversations and exchanges.
The trust that we’ve put into our customers – to come, to be nice, to contribute – and the trust they in turn have placed in us – to be here (!), to cook a great meal, to host – is what makes this work. Here are 17 strangers in the sitting room, most of them drunk, all of them happy and content. None of them has ever put us out or smashed anything up or started an ugly row with their neighbour. No, these are good people who like the same things as we do – good food, good atmosphere. As long as we can keep them coming Salad Club will survive. We feel it’s a bit of London that makes living in this city worthwhile.
The morning after: