Sunday, October 31, 2010

An underground supper at Montpelier Basement

There have been one or two pop-ups and underground restaurants already in Bristol but none looks more likely to succeed than Montpelier Basement, a new fortnightly supper club run by Elly and Dan.

It would be hard to find a couple who are more into their food. Elly’s day job is running an excellent local cafĂ© and Dan blogs as Essex Eating (which is where he lived before Elly lured him out west). And rather than show us round the flat they showed us their cookbook collection. It was arranged by colour which prompted a big debate about how you should catalogue your cookbooks. (I arrange mine by subject, some do it by author or size. How about you?)

Since it was nearly Hallowe’en Dan had fixed up a projector which threw old black and white horror movies on the wall.

The menu was pumpkin themed - a fact which I’d cunningly concealed from my husband who would have almost certainly decided he didn’t want to come if he'd known. In fact he raved about the food which he pronounced better than many restaurants we’d been to recently. Which it was.

We kicked off with gougères made with Gorwydd Caerphilly and topped with a sprinkling of coarse-ground toasted pumpkin seeds. There were little bowls of pumpkin soup with deep fried sage and brown butter, beautifully fresh Cornish haddock with a pumpkin crust and shredded leeks, perfectly cooked onglet, with pumpkin jam and polenta chips and a great vegetarian option of mushroom and Ogleshield tatin with thyme, chestnuts and squash which I also managed to sneak a slice of.

The meal finished with spiced pumpkin and pecan cake with maple mascarpone, honey and toasted nuts and - how did we find room for it? - a final cheese course of Welsh rarebit fingers.

They’d obviously put a huge amount of thought into constructing the menu which was beautifully balanced and not at all heavy, despite the number of courses. (You can see how incredibly well organised they were from the checklist below.) We all told them they were mad to ask for a donation of just £20 a head for the food which was worth at least double that.

I hope some of the recipes will appear on their respective blogs (Elly has a new one here) particularly the pumpkin seed mix, the absolutely awesome polenta chips, the tatin and the cake.

In the meantime you can find one of their recipes in Xanthe Clay’s column in the Telegraph - she went to their first supper a couple of weeks ago.

The next two events are on the 13th and 27th of November. To keep track of ones after that follow @montpelierbsmt on Twitter or their ning page or email them at montpelierbsmtATgmailDOTcom


  1. This HAS to be such a success... such lovely looking food and such attention to detail.

    I do hope the recipes get to the blog, they are different enough to merit trying (and probably cooking often..)

    Well done Dan and Elly :)

  2. Thanks so much Fiona for such an incredibly complimentary write up. We're so pleased that you and your family enjoyed the food and the evening. We had a fantastic time ourselves, despite rushing around in the kitchen for the first part of the evening. Extremely chuffed with this. Thank you - Dan & Elly x

  3. Elly's already posted a couple Lynne, on

    Can't wait to see what you do next E & D . . .

  4. Sounds wonderful. And three cheers for pop-up restaurants - a demonstration of how much people are calling for real food.

  5. I'll tell you how I arrange my cookery books Fiona - I shove them all onto the shelves any which way they'll go. It's really quite something.

    I'm so pleased for Dan and Elly, they've done brilliantly. I wish I was a bit closer now.

  6. You'll have to come down to Brizzle, Helen. And although I say I organise my books by subject they're currently in random, toppling piles too . . .