Something strange is happening on the London food scene. New dining locations are emerging in unlikely, out-of-the-way neighborhoods, where paying guests turn up to eat in someone’s private home. Elsewhere, established chefs are taking over a temporary dining venue to cook large no-choice meals for 30 guests for one or two nights, only to disappear again.
A recent event took place above the Violet Cakes Shop in a nondescript office block in east London. Here, nearly 30 people ate a specially created meal from Chris Lee, one of the former stars of Chez Panisse, California’s most influential restaurant. “I bake cakes all day long,” explained Claire Ptak, formerly pastry chef at Chez Panisse, “and I missed the interaction you get by working with great chefs, so I arranged for a series of pop-up dinners, starting with Chris and then Joseph Trivelli from the River Café.”
Several kilometers away, a chef known only as “Miss Marmite Lover” prepares a five-course “piscatorian” meal for £40 in her Victorian garden flat in Kilburn, north London, which she calls the Underground Restaurant. Specializing in what she calls “imaginative, creative home cooking” on her Aga stove, she regularly cooks for nearly 30 people. The last event earlier this month, “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dinner,” was served by a teenage Goth and girls in vintage French aprons.
Welcome to London’s world of pop-up restaurants and supper clubs.