I was recently invited to attend the launch of a new Supper Club, being held once a month (on the last Thursday of every month) at the Laguna Kitchen and Bar in Cardiff’s Park Plaza Hotel. Having eaten there on numerous occasions before and enjoyed the food very much (you can read my review here), I was very keen to go along and find out what the Supper Club had in store!
The first Supper Club was entitled ‘An Evening with Cloudy Bay’, and along with some fellow food bloggers (Nikki from Your Last Mouthful and Nicki from Cardiff Bites), Mr W and I enjoyed a four course menu, with each course accompanied by a different Cloudy Bay wine that had been specially chosen to complement the dish. A Cloudy Bay sommelier was on hand to explain each of the wines to us before we tried it, which made the evening feel like much more than just a normal meal out.
Our first course was Beef Carpaccio, which was served with parmesan, balsamic and micro rocket. It was tasty, but not outstanding, with the parmesan and balsamic being the highlight for me – the carpaccio unfortunately seemed a bit incidental! It was also cut into rather unnatural looking perfect circles, which made it look more like salami than beef, although aside from this the presentation was lovely. This course was accompanied by a glass of Polorous Sparkling, a pleasantly dry glass of fizz, which was an enjoyable start to the evening’s drinking.
Next up was a ballotine of chicken with fennel and chickpeas, served with a spiced carrot and coconut sauce and a cauliflower samosa. The samosa was definitely the star of this particular show, light and crispy with a delicate cauliflower flavour. This course’s accompaniment was a Sauvignon Blanc, which was our highlight of the entire evening – one of the nicest I’ve tasted, deliciously light and crisp, and one that will be going on the shopping list if we can locate somewhere that stocks it!
Strangely, the next course was a smoked haddock and spring onion risotto, which we all felt would have been better placed before the chicken course – whether as a fish course, or as an Italian style ‘primi piatti’. We’ve had risottos before at the Laguna Kitchen and Bar, and have always found them to be excellent, so we were looking forward to this one, and it was definitely my favourite course of the evening. It was topped with a segment of soft boiled egg, which was good, although we’d have probably preferred a poached egg, but otherwise it was fantastic, with the delicate spring onion flavour coming through to complement the smoked haddock. It was accompanied by curry oil, which had a very subtle flavour. This dish was served with a glass of the Cloudy Bay Chardonnay, and despite not being a big Chardonnay fan, I really enjoyed this one.
Rounding off the meal was a walnut and raisin bruschetta, topped with a red wine poached pear and gorgonzola dolce. On seeing the menu I’d been a bit concerned as to how gorgonzola would fit with a dessert, and even more perturbed when it arrived topped with rocket and we realised it was much more of a cheese course than a pudding. After three savoury courses, we would have really liked a sweet course, but I can imagine that this would have made a wine pairing a bit difficult, as I am not sure whether Cloudy Bay have any dessert wines in their range! As it was, we enjoyed a glass of very light Pinot Noir, which was a nice wine, but if anything was too light to go with the strong blue cheese. My bruschetta was also a little bit burnt, so all in all this was my least favourite course, although I did enjoy the cheese and pear together (you can’t beat a fruit and cheese combo!)
All in all, we really enjoyed the evening – the talk about the wines, which didn’t assume any level of prior knowledge, was interesting, and it was nice to be able to try different wines along with each of the dishes. On the face of it, the evening is not cheap, at £45 per head, but for what we had in terms of food and wine, it actually represents excellent value. I’m concerned, though, that the cost could be prohibitive for some people as it’s more than many would want to pay for a week night outing. As always, the food was good, and the service friendly and welcoming – it was clear that all the staff wanted the evening to feel special and be a success. We were asked for our feedback on the food at the end of the evening, and it seemed that they really valued our comments and were keen to take them on board.
The next Supper Club takes place on Thursday 29th March, and is entitled ‘A Taste of Spain’, with guests having the opportunity to try four Spanish-themed dishes (including a tapas starter), again with a specially selected glass of wine for every course. We saw the menu for the March event and it certainly looked good. I’d love to see the Supper Club take off as a concept, and would like to see the Laguna Kitchen and Bar further develop the ‘Club’ aspect of it to encourage repeat attendees, as well as finding a variety of interesting speakers and themes, perhaps with a focus on the food instead of the wine sometimes, particularly for those who maybe don’t want to work their way through four glasses of wine on a school night! It’s always good to see a venue encouraging people to become more educated about food and wine, or simply to share their love of all things gourmand with fellow enthusiasts, and I’m looking forward to seeing what future Supper Clubs have in store, and I wish the Park Plaza every success with their new venture!
We attended the Supper Club launch as guests of Laguna Kitchen and Bar. Many thanks to the Park Plaza for inviting us.