Myristica Supper Club:
Eating dinner out on a Saturday night does not usually take place on the 9th floor of an office block near Liverpool Street Station, so as mysterious venues go, Myristica supper club had me guessing. The chef was less of a mystery – as fans of Masterchef will know, Michelle Trusselle was a semi-finalist in Masterchef: Professional 2018.
We entered a large open space partially furnished with sofas while a long galley kitchen stretched along one wall. Glass windows made up the outside wall, and office cubicles filled another. We were warmly greeted by Luke, Michelle’s husband. Michelle was busy at her kitchen station while Luke encouraged the guests to mingle over glasses of Prosecco mixed with Michelle’s homemade spiced syrup including cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
When it was time to take our seats, we were shown to a very long table that ran the length of the room. Set for 16, it was large enough to seat at least double that number. At each place setting an envelope contained a letter from Michelle and Luke setting out their mission statement which is to showcase Caribbean cuisine at the level of fine dining. The supper club is a stepping stone to opening a restaurant. The back of the letter provided the evening’s menu which consisted of 6 – 8 courses. Michelle introduced each course at the table and explained that her cooking uses Caribbean flavours in a unique way.
The meal began with canapés, two tiny bites which had micro herbs strategically placed.
The first canapé was called Doubles which Michelle informed us are a Trinidadian street food akin to a dumpling. Made from chickpea purée, tamarind and cucumber it was a spicy bite. I preferred the second offering, an okra polenta cake served with a ginger gel and a tiny grilled shrimp topped with fresh coriander. It was gently spicy with a lovely warmth from the ginger gel and sweetness from the shrimp shining through. It was also very pretty and attractively served on a hexagonal, marble dish. I could happily have eaten a few more of these very tasty morsels.
The next course was a homemade pumpkin bread roll served with a quenelle of nutmeg butter and rum salt. The roll was a lovely golden colour but I could not discern a pumpkin flavour. Many tasting menus now designate what used to be called bread and butter as a course. I find this trend a bit of an affectation as I have only once eaten a bread and butter combination that was so mind-blowing that it earned its status as a course.
The meal really stepped up a gear with the third course entitled Textures of Corn with Chive. Served in a small Sophie Conran bowl from her Portmeirion collection (one of my favourites), the dish had a gorgeous aroma and was colourful and visually pleasing. Michelle told us that it was inspired by a BBQ feast where corn is grilled. Included were tiny slices of baby corn sweetcorn kernels, grilled corn that had a going over from a blowtorch, a corn purée, a corn parfait, a miniature allium flower and spicing from scotch bonnet, thyme and garlic. Crunch provided by scattered toasted corn contrasted with the soft purée and chive oil; this was a dish to savour slowly as so much was going on in the mouth.
We moved on to Cod, Ackee Velouté, Wild Garlic and Onion which was a picture of yellows and greens. A perfectly cooked fillet of saltfish (brined by Michelle) sat on a bed of spinach and a few grains of puffed rice. A wild garlic sauce, a deep green, was dotted about and filled a tiny pocket of pearl onion. A puddle of ackee custard was a revelation to me. I am unfamiliar with this vegetable, but my fellow diners were not, and they regaled me with the virtues of ackee which turns out to be potentially poisonous in the wrong hands. ‘You had better stick to the tinned variety,’ joked the dinner guest seated alongside me. I think I will just stick to Michelle’s rendition into which she added some mussel liquor to bring a saline hit to the dish. One of my fellow diners who hails from Jamaica told me that ackee and saltfish is Jamaica’s national dish. Michelle has taken this traditional plate and notched it up to a very sophisticated level. I had to restrain myself from going over to the kitchen and begging for the bowl of ackee velouté to lick out with a spoon. It was simply excellent.
Another popular dish came next – Jerk Chicken, Coleslaw and Plantain. This was not like any jerk chicken I have eaten before. This dish was a turning point for Michelle who prepared it on Masterchef and when she was told by judge Marcus Wareing that it was Caribbean royalty on a plate, she knew she was onto something big. While my neighbour explained that jerk chicken is usually served on the bone, this dish was taken to new heights by Michelle. The spicing, my neighbour informed. This is what Michelle is excelling at – keeping true to the genesis of the dishes while adding the luxe element that elevates her food to haute cuisine. Here chicken breasts had been cooked sous vide and had the resultant tenderness that only this method of preparation can provide. It then had a light smoking and a shallow fry before being sliced and served dramatically in a glass cloche on a bed of cinnamon stick, coriander seeds, nutmeg and cloves. Alongside we had plates with a tiny round of coleslaw wrapped in a ribbon of carrot while around the plate were strewn thin slices of baby carrot and a tiny round of plantain with a shard of crispy chicken on top. A jug of intense chicken jus was served on the side. Had I been at home I would have drunk the lot straight from the little jug, but, being in company I tried to behave with some decorum.
We had two dessert courses. The first was entitled First Mangoes of the Season. This was both pretty and dainty, a layered mango dish. At the bottom was a small round of sponge cake topped with sliced Julie mango, a delicious mango curd, slices of another mango variety that hails from St Lucia and Dominica, and finally a nasturtium petal and some micro mint. The dish had a clean finish and was awash with tropical flavours.
A richer course came last – Grenadian Chocolate, Rum and Cinnamon. This was a finger of dark chocolate – a silky chocolate slice – which was intensely rich but not overly sweet. It was served with shards of cinnamon snap which contrasted texturally and added a warm spicy note. A dollop of fabulous sheep’s yoghurt – sweetened with icing sugar and vanilla paste – contained a tiny pool of rum. Oh my, this was divine. As if this was not good enough, a trench of chocolate soil added a contrasting colour and texture. A few rum soaked raisins finished off the plate. This was the only point in the meal that the table fell silent. ‘The sound of contentment’ quipped Michelle’s husband.
Tea and coffee were served with petit fours – a square of guava paste which was like an upmarket fruit pastille. Guava is one of my favourite childhood fruits so I could not have been happier with this tart offering that had been dipped in sugar.
I asked Michelle why she calls her supper club Myristica. She explained that she hails from Grenada where nutmeg and mace are harvested from a tree called Myristica. Her quest is to go down the spice route and to provide Londoners with high-end Caribbean food. She is inspired by chefs who think outside the box. Judging by the meal we enjoyed at Myristica supper club, Michelle is one such chef herself and I hope that Londoners get to travel with her to the shores of the Caribbean once she gets a restaurant of her own.
You can find out more about Myristica supper clubs on Michelle’s website