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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tube Supperclub on Victoria Line Train

Eating on the Tube - love it or hate it?  TfL launched a poster campaign a few years ago encouraging us
not to eat smelly food on the Tube which almost caused a diplomatic incident between Britain & Italy due to its implication that all Italian food is smelly.  We've probably all been on the London Underground when someone's been eating chips, chicken, a kebab or even a packet of cheese and onion crisps, and it's really got up our noses.

However, not all Tube food is a bad thing as I had the pleasure of dining on an old Victoria Line carriage last weekend.

Underground Carriage set for dining

This wasn't a rushed sarnie or breakfast croissant on the Tube, but a delicious four course meal as part of the Basement Galley's celebrations of the London Underground's 150th anniversary.  The by-line of Alex and Tom's supperclub is "Underground Dining", but this was the first time they'd taken the whole concept really Undeground.  OK we weren't on a carriage physically travelling on the Victoria Line itself, but on an old Victoria Line train stationed at the Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum.

If you've been to a supperclub before you'll know that the fun is all in the unknown. You usually don't know the location until the last minute. You don't know who you'll be eating with. Even though this was miles away from where I lived, I knew I couldn't turn down the opportunity of eating on the Tube.

My friend Rosana Mc Phee from Hot & Chilli who discovered the event, met me at Walthamstow Central Tube and we then spent about 10 minutes trying to find the right bus to get to the Museum.

Fortunately some fellow diners were also on the bus & confirmed we were going the right way. The Pumphouse Museum is a bit ramshackle from the outside, with old rusting coaches, buses and bus stops "displayed" in a fairly haphazard fashion.  So it was with some trepidation that we wandered round to back of the Museum to our train which was hidden in a very large marquee.

Tube car for dining

Once through the sliding doors we were more relieved.  All looked extremely well set out, crisp white table cloths and candles mixed against the backdrop of in-line carriage maps and old Tube posters. We stood in the aisles chatting, drinking wine  (we weren't strictly on public transport so not subject the Boris booze ban!)  and getting to know our fellow diners. The tables were set so most of us were sitting on the train's own comfy moquette seats whereas others were on seats by the sliding doors. 

Wine on the Tube

We settled down to our starter of Green Pea & Basil Purée followed by Salmon poached in a Black Pepper Broth, Rucola Salad, Truffle & Parmesan Vinaigrette. With the sounds of the sliding doors swooshing open & shut as the food was carried in and our empty plates taken out, it felt as though the train should have been moving.

Table set

However, it didn't take long to forget that you were in a train and just spend time enjoying the meal, wine and company.

Starter on the Tube

There were only 22 of us that night, but Alex thinks that by re-arranging the seating a little he could fit around 30 people into the carriage.

Salmon & rocket  on Tube

Our main course was piping hot, which was some feat considering Alex & his team only had a  very small kitchen at the Museum to heat things up in.  Kilner Jar appeared full of  yummy slow braised beef in a Móle sauce with garlic mash and wilted spinach.

Mole main course on Tube

This was followed by a Pimm’s Fruit Salad and a beautifully presented plate of sliced of cheesecake: White Chocolate &; Vanilla, Lapsang Souchong Tea, with a glass of Kiwi Smoothie.

Dessert on the Tube

Over tea and coffee we shared our amazement that no one (well no one as far as we knew had run a supperclub in a Tube carriage) and applauded Alex for his idea and great food.

Chef Alex clearing away starters

It would be lovely to return in the summer for an event like this.  Firstly, as it was a little cold and secondly, as I wondered how it might look with less bright lighting from the Tube's overhead lights and more reliance on candlelight.  Both my and Rosana's Tweets during the meal led to many excited responses saying "How did you hear about this?", "When's the next one?".

Keep an eye on the Basement Galley's Twitter feed for when the next one will be, as Alex says he'll definitely run another.   There's some more of my photos from the Victoria Line Train Supper Club and the Pumphouse Museum here.

Eating on the tube :-s by fitzlaurafitz
Eating on the tube :-s by fitzlaurafitz

In the meantime, next time you're eating on the Tube, close your eyes and imagine the white tablecloths, glasses, cutlery and candles and you'll get a rough idea of our experience. 

UPDATE - 29th April 2013 - due to popular demand, Alex is having another two supper clubs on this train.  11th May is already sold out but you can book tickets for the one on the 25th May now.

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Victorian Railway Food vs 21st Century Railway Food 


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