1. Uyen Luu, London
A few years ago, I went to *Uyen’s all-day Vietnamese cookery class – you rock up at her house, and a group of you spend the day in her kitchen cooking Vietnamese food and feasting on everything you make. It was one of the best foodie experiences I’ve ever had, and if it was anything to go by, the supper club she hosts at her house will be amazing too. It’s basically the cookery class without the effort: you still feast on delicious Vietnamese food, but don’t have to cook any of it yourself.
*If you haven’t heard of Uyen Luu, you need to. She’s a fantastic London-based Vietnamese cook who’s heavily endorsed by Jamie Oliver.
2. The Spice Club, Manchester
Manchester’s first secret supper club, Spice Club is hosted by the lovely Monica and her mum, Anita. Manchester has some pretty fantastic curry spots, with a lot of arguments about where to find the best dish. If rumour and reputation’s anything to go by though, Monica and her mum serve the best Indian food in the city. As to where to find their Jaipur cuisine though, you’ll just have to book a spot at their table and wait. They don’t reveal their top secret location until 24 hours beforehand.
3. Jelly & Gin, Edinburgh
They had me at gin. These guys create food and drink experiences all over Scotland, that are unmissable for the “intrepid gastronaut*”, and include things like Mean Girls-themed cocktails at Edinburgh Filmhouse, and a regular night that involves a well-known chef popping down to a greasy spoon to cook up some burgers.
*New life goal, unlocked.
4. Mes Amis, London
This place first opened in Hammersmith, in 1993, and is run by one very dedicated man, called James. The food is Lebanese, and the dining room is a fantastical explosion of cultures, with parasols hanging from the ceiling and a riot of kaleidoscopic colours everywhere you look. James cooks everything himself, from scratch, to order, which sounds impossible, until you find out there’s literally only 20 seats in the room. Halfway between restaurant and supper club, it’s one of London’s most unique secret experiences.
5. Disappearing Dining Club, London
Disappearing Dining Club is London’s Gin & Jelly. Responsible for a number of ultra cool pop ups in the city, these guys have thrown dinner parties in lighthouses, launderettes, antiques shops, over a five floor department store, under railway arches, on film sets, recording studios, private homes, car parks, on beaches, and rooftops.
Alongside their amazing one-nighters, the closest thing they have to a “proper” restaurant space is Back In 5 Minutes, which is hidden inside a clothes shop, and has space available for up to 28 guests.
6. Dinner At The Manor, Leeds
The longest running secret supper club in Leeds, this is hosted by two amateur cooks (Dan and Susie) just outside of central Leeds, in a “mystery location” (Dan’s house). Don’t be put off by the “amateur” part. The beauty of these supper clubs is their informal, un-snooty feel, and these guys have been successful long enough now that you know they’ve got some major culinary chops.
I also really enjoy how they theme their menus off their favourite cookbooks, because it gives me a chance to actually try some of the recipes from the various books gathering dust in my house…
7. Gingerline, London
Gingerline were the guys who made immersive dining *a thing* in London, and they’re still the best in the business. Everything, from location to theme, is top secret until the last possible moment (their motto is “loose lips sink ships”), with updates coming via text. When you do arrive, you’re in for a hell of a dining experience. Their previous events have featured everything from Submarine mess halls, to tube carriages, to Siberian circuses and futuristic space crafts.
8. Evans & Peel, London
A detective agency in Earls Court with a secret. I won’t say much, as it will ruin the surprise (taking people here for the first time is my crack), but just be sure to turn up to your booking with a suitable story. My go-to is that I’m a cat burglar who burgled the wrong cat, and am now on the run from a revengeful criminal kingpin.
9. The Secret Supper Society, Somerton
Rules are simple: bring your own booze, turn up on time, and make the suggested donation at the end of the night. In return, you get a five course dinner that’s well up to scratch with any fine dining restaurant, for a fraction of the price. And a rousing game of table trivia after, if you so desire.
10. Sheffield Supper Club, Sheffield
Pakistani food, done with all the warmth and comfort of home cooking. This supper club is run by Komal Khan, a chef who is as talented at fusion cooking as she is at the traditional, so there are interesting twists a-plenty on her menu, as well as influences from all over the globe.
11. Caboose, London
The “caboose” is the last carriage on a train, where in the days of yesteryear, workers used to gather to eat and make merry. These guys found a derelict caboose, decided to roll it to Brick Lane, and set up a supper club in it. Their food matches the interiors – all slow-smoked meats and BBQ – and is worth turning up for alone.
12. The Drunken Butcher, Manchester
The Drunken Butcher was once described as a “mystical Twitter character” who throws big meaty dinners at his house every so often. I think that means we’ve reached peak 2016. Mr Butcher’s real name is Iain, and his dinners are titled things like “Around the world in 8ish steaks”. I think you get the idea – if you like meat, get to Manchester and find his house.
13. Moel Faban, Wales
Wales’ most exclusive restaurant: no one knows where it is, and only 12 people are allowed in per sitting. Moel Faban is named after the mountain the chef lives on (casual), and is a once-a-month supper club that serves seasonal, gourmet dishes. Think international dishes done with proper local ingredients.
14. Liverpool’s Secret Dining Club, Liverpool
Taking the secrecy element up a level, diners here get handed a blank menu card at the start of their evening, to guess what will be coming up that evening. It’s an intensely interactive experience from start to finish, and hosted in everything from churches to disused train stations.
The important thing with supper clubs though, is that it’s not all fur coat and no knickers: the food needs to be delicious, or what’s the point? And the cooking skills here are the backbone of the whole thing, with location-inspired menus full of tasty treats.
15. Ms Marmite Lover, London
A food blogger and writer, Kerstin not only does her own (very popular) supper clubs, she also set up a network of them across the country, with a site that helps you find your closest one. She’s the supper club queen, if you will. Keep an eye on her website for her upcoming events – she does loads of unusual ones, like a honey-themed tea party, and a Swedish midsummers eve feast.
16. Basement Galley, London
Cordon Bleu cooking in a decommissioned 1967 tube carriage. The food is a fusion of Japanese and Scandinavian (a combo I never knew I needed until now), and is made by Alex Cooper, a chef formerly of Michelin-starred Sketch. A little bit bonkers, but really really cool.
17. The Clandestine Cake Club, Worldwide
Ok, technically this isn’t a restaurant, as they only serve cakes. But would you have forgiven me if I’d kept this from you? They’ve got 200 clubs worldwide, with ones in Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester, to name but a few UK locations. The premise is a simple one. You bake a cake, congregate with all the other members (who have also baked a cake), then you eat all the cakes. In top secret.