Depending upon where you live, you may (or may not) have noticed the sudden arrival of underground cafes, pop up tearooms and supper clubs. In Huddersfield, locals are lucky to have at least one underground tearoom, Cafe Nouveau in a Grade II listed building in Lindley and a dining club in another listed building in Birkby.
Birkby Lodge Dining Club arrived on the scene just before Christmas last year. Its ability to seat large groups of diners in beautifully styled, relaxed surroundings appealed to discerning diners looking for something a bit different for their work’s Christmas do.
Chef Mithu (pronounced “Me-too”) and her husband/Maître d‘, Andy, invite guests into their pop up restaurant one Friday and Saturday a month. Their themes include Spanish, French, Chinese and modern British food – always with several options and vegetarian dishes for around £20 per head. Sometimes the theme nights feature guest chefs, with both the Curry and Chinese evenings doing this so far.
While local restaurants are often themed (Thai, Chinese, Greek, etc), the advantage for a chef of a supper club is that there are no restrictions to the range of dishes or themes, which means diners can be attracted back time after time, whilst also being able to try new culinary experiences. It’s genius when you think about it.
The setting for this restaurant in a lounge and dining room in a beautifully styled former veterinary practice that Mithu and Andy bought in a state of near dereliction and which they have lovingly restored to a standard of ‘boutique hotel’ chic. Guests are welcomed into the reception room which, in winter houses a roaring log fire.
Diners are then shown into one of two dining rooms which, combined can take 24 covers in a night. Private parties are now being catered for and guests may book the whole club for a night, with a menu – and music – of their choosing. In terms of accessibility, the restaurant is all on one level and there’s also a downstairs loo. And, there is only a hint of quiet background music which complements, rather than detracts from the conversation.
Local artists and craftspeople have displays of their work which customers can buy, or just appreciate. The club allows them to exhibit for free as it adds to the bohemian atmosphere.
Unlike some other supper clubs, diners at Birkby Lodge are seated as you would be at a restaurant – mainly on tables just for your party. There is no expectation on guests to get to know one another and couples and groups are equally welcome. This dining experience is not about meeting new people, it’s about good food in a beautiful, candlelit dining room. Diners are welcome to ‘bring their own drink’ and, in addition to this, bottles of water are also provided.
Guests are asked to choose their dishes from the advertised menu in advance to allow Mithu to get her kitchen organised with military precisions so that each party of guests can be served together. The amount of time between courses seems just about right and it’s lovely to dine without having waiters hovering round and, there’s also no awkward wait for the bill.
All in all, Birkby Lodge Dining Club gives value for money, good food – beautifully presented – in a great setting. There are plans for al fresco dining in the summer too on the large decked area set in almost half an acre of cottage gardens.
More info on Birkby Lodge Dining Club: http://birkbylodgediningclub.wordpress.com
More info on supperclubs: http://supperclubfangroup.ning.com/profile/MithuKomarnyckyj
Review and photos by Angie Aspinall, Photos © Aspinall Ink 2011