NYE at Fernandez and Leluu

Photo by Simon Doggett

The first time I met Uyen (above) and Simon (in the kitchen when this was taken, probably) of Fernandez and Leluu, I reviewed their east London supper club for Londonist. Wooed by their enthusiasm and professionalism, and completely overcome by their food, it was a struggle to not immediately book in for the following week. And the week after that. But that’s how you get a reputation as a stalker, or so I’m told.  Rejina of GastroGeek who was actually there the same week, said she felt exactly the same.  We went back in early December for the Miss Saigon Menu, and my personal highlight was Woven Paper rolls with Prawns, Pork, Black Fungus and Vermicelli, (Cha Gio Nem) – little crunchy parcels of prawny goodness.

Fernandez and Leluu Supper Club by you.

Coincidentally, very soon after we’d met Simon and Uyen, we started to think about New Years Eve.  Rather than fight through throngs to the bar and grudgingly hand over mortgage payments as taxi fares, I was musing about cooking at home for friends.  Then I remembered (a) I don’t have a dishwasher and (b) I’d  seen on the F&L website that they were planning to cook that night. We spent the taxi budget on fabulous wine instead. Done!

About twenty five of us spent the evening drinking, eating, laughing our heads off.  Chairs had been begged, borrowed, returned to neighbours who needed them themselves, procured from others.  It was great to see foodie bloggers such as the lovely Luiz in the crowd which was made up of friends of the couple and fans of the supper club.  Uyen’s review and some recipes are here all I can say is – make the pesto. Our version earlier this week, devoured with Gail’s Potato and Rosemary Sourdough didn’t turn out quite as tangy as hers (I suspect she used more basil) but it was delicious all the same – such reward for so little effort, as long as you have a food processor.  I was going to deny that Rejina and I polished off the lot on NYE, then I remembered hiding the wiped-clean dish in the bread basket.

Menu

:: Simon’s Terrine ::

Photo from Simon Doggett's Flickr stream

:: Uyen’s Bolognese Sauce With Pasta ::

:: Uyen’s Pesto & Garlic & Rosemary Bread ::

:: Salmon & Tuna Sashimi With Watercress Salad & Orange, Soy & Mirin Dressing ::

::  Lamb & Chicken Banquet With Roasties & Carrots ::

:: Orange & Vodka Panna Cotta With White Chocolate Shavings & Strawberry Sauce ::

Photo from Simon Doggett's Flickr stream

The sashimi was mouthwatering as always – they insist on collecting the sushi-grade fish from Steve Hatt in Islington on the day it is to be served.  This is the sort of detail that makes you happy to return here again and again and we were delighted to be included in this gathering.   It’s one of those places that I’m willing to give anything a try, from frogs’ legs to weasel coffee.  Apparently Uyen finds it hilarious to watch my face when tasting the first mouthful of each dish, as she speeds back to the kitchen – always elated at just how good it is.  I even tried the pannacotta, which is normally the sort of texture and taste I’d run a mile from.  The plate went back clean to the kitchen.   Our banquet arrived just around midnight and we saw in 2010 well fed, in convivial surroundings, awash with champagne: deeply happy.

Stars:  *****

Fernandez and Leluu’s Supper Club continues into 2010 with dates on the website – some already booked out so be quick.  Also check for Uyen’s recipes and their reviews of London and east London foodie havens.

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The Britannia, Victoria Park E9

Do you support the grow local theory? You know, less food miles, supporting community producers. I hope my local pub does, as lately I’ve been going with the ‘eat out local’ approach instead.

The Britannia was taken over about a year ago and changed from a dodgy old men’s pub, inhabited by squatters and terrorised by squirrels, to gasto-bistro-bugabooland.  Don’t let the family-friendly policy put you off though – it’s fairly cavernous and there’s room for kids to tear about without unduly bothering anyone.  Even me, with a famously low patience threshold.

It’s best to check the website to see what’s on offer day to day and visit during the week if you can as it’s chock-a-block at the weekends.  When the new menu came out last week, we picked a selection of starters instead of mains:

:: Winter Roasted Vegetables with Poached Egg ::

Only comment is that the squash could have been cooked slightly longer. Coming from a culture that boils veg into submission, this could be a personal preference.

:: Venison Terrine ::

Dense, meaty, unctuous.

:: Chicken Tortellini in chicken broth with pearl barley ::

My personal highlight of the array of starters and I’ve since ordered it as a main. The tortellini are heavy little parcels, herby and delicious.

:: Butternut Squash and Cashel Blue tart ::

Buttery pastry and my favourite Irish blue cheese. Ok, I have no idea how many Irish blues there might be. This one is good, very good.

Stars:  *****

Although it’s definitely getting better, the service is the only reason that the Britannia loses a star. They seem to juggle about with the numbers of staff, particularly at the weekends but they’re generally pretty affable.  They fire up the grill at the weekend and held a series of BFI screenings during the summer. All in all – it’s everything you could want in a local.

The Britannia Pub, 360 Victoria Park Road, London E9 7BT. 020 8533 0040