The atmosphere is so warm, and the food so good, we would challenge anyone not to enjoy Alex and Tess’s wonderful hospitality.
In a Word
The East 13 Supper Club is a relatively new venture by charity worker, Alex Lacy, and medical student, Tess O’Neill. The concept is simple: the pair open their Upton Park home to the public and feed them a five-course homecooked meal. And while Alex and Tess are not the first hosts of a supper club in this part of London, theirs is certainly one of the most fun.
The setting and atmosphere are comfortable and warming; rustic wooden furniture jostles alongside abstract art pieces and a beautiful chandelier, which imbues the room with a soft, golden glow. The furniture is all handcrafted by Alex, lending a personal charm to the space. An open kitchen and dining room charge the room with a buzz of activity and immediacy, adding a theatrical backdrop to the meal.
Tess effortlessly introduces people to one another and facilitates conversations over a refreshing welcome cocktail. In a city where people don’t often want to interact, this is an impressive feat. Either this, or we have lucked out on the crowd – sometimes supper clubs can be full of eye-rolling pretentiousness. Here though, the long, wooden table groans happily with food and the guests chatter enthusiastically in the candlelight. A limit of 12 keeps proceedings intimate but ensures conversation is varied throughout the evening. The event certainly lives up to its promise that people will feel as if they are dining with friends.
A first course of salmon ceviche is a light refreshing way to prep the palate for things to come. Red onions provide a sharp sweetness bringing out the delicate flavour of the fish and fennel and zesty lime galvanise the little plate.
Warming celery soup with homemade bread chases away vestiges of the torrential downpour outside. The bread sits between a pleasing denseness and a light, crumbly finish. It is the perfect complement to the soup’s clean flavour. A slightly longer simmer could have deepened the broth but this is a minor pick at an otherwise enjoyable second course.
Goat’s cheese with black pudding comes next. I transfer the black pudding (which is so appetisingly crisp, that I actually try some of this longtime food foe) to a friend’s plate but enjoy the artfully baked cheese, which is tangy and moreish.
The bavette steak with chimichurri arrives on a platter dressed with leafy greens and a cascade of pomegranates, which glitter invitingly in the twinkling lights. It is a visually striking platter of food which encourages sharing – perfect for opening up the table to more conversation. The thin strips of steak are tender and lifted by the garlicky chimichurri, while the pomegranates are an unexpected foil to the seared red meat, adding juiciness and bite.
Dessert is another highlight. Tess’s sticky toffee pudding is a proper winter warmer – hot butterscotch and cream vye for centre stage in this wonderfully indulgent and rich final course, but, alas I am defeated by the final few bites.
It is clear that Alex and Tess love to entertain. Their ability to make guests feel at ease, happy and well-fed is a genuine and welcome deviation from the relentless pace of urban life. It is also easy to imagine what a wonderful tonic East 13 could be for London residents who may feel occasional isolation. But really, anyone who is looking to meet new people over a very reasonably-priced meal is encouraged to attend East 13. Generous portions of delicious, comforting food and flowing wine – a result of the BYOB option – provide a memorable evening that we are keen to repeat.
Tickets: £35 + booking fee