I last ate the food from Digbeth Market Kitchen one incredibly balmy evening in August, while attending a whiskey tasting evening.
Chef Mike, the hairy chap heading up the kitchen hidden away in the depths of The Anchor, has been a busy boy since then. The bar menu has been extended and recipes tweaked, but it’s Mike’s newly launched Supper Club I’ve been looking forward to. It’s been a while coming – he took over the kitchen back in spring – but The Anchor’s resident chef now gets to show off his flare for flavour with his intimate dinner party-esq feasts.
Admittedly, we were guinea pigs for the first ever DMK supper but, at £50 a head, leaving full and drunk was expected. The Mediterranean-inspired dining experience was to be paired with selected wines from the vino-loving Connelly’s over at Arch 13. I’m told even they hinted to Mike he’d probably over ordered the wine for the supper, proving he was keen to make sure we all left walking like pirates. I could barely see let alone walk home, so mission accomplished.
The 5-course meal itself took place in one of The Anchor’s private dining rooms. I like these side rooms; they’re a bit shabby but full of character. A lot like my husband. With just 10 guests around the table that left little room for anyone in the kitchen to hide. It had to be good if the (already in the works) supper clubs are to keep coming. Served family style, the idea was to make friends with your neighbours, dig in and drink up. When the first course arrived and covered half the table I was glad I’d worn some loose clothes.
*Sorry the photos hereafter aren’t plentiful or very good. I partly blame the lighting, but mainly I blame the copious amounts of wine I quaffed*
During the evening we dived into a variety of dishes. A mezze of stuffed vine leaves and mixed olives, plus homemade falafel and hummus with flatbread was a highlight for me. I like my hummus with a decent kick of cumin and some texture; this was spot on. I’d have liked an extra splosh of olive oil over the top to give another flavour and silkiness, but it was better than any I’ve managed to make at home. The falafel was the highlight of this course for me though; crisp on the outside and fluffy, almost crumbly on the inside.
A lentil and feta salad surprised me by having much more flavour than I anticipated, drawing focus from the pork mince stuffed pepper it came with. Lamb kefta with couscous was pleasant tasting but needed some added moisture, perhaps from a tzatziki for an extra nod to the Med. From Greece to Spain, a simple platter of tomato, basil and mozzarella came with a twist: charred cauliflower. This got demolished in record time, but then when doesn’t cheese get scoffed?
Slow cooked pork shoulder fell apart at the touch of a fork, with plenty of garlic and paprika punch from the red mojo sauce it bathed in. Piled high on top of the roasted potatoes it came with, it was a mountain of food. By this point we were all now
pissed pals and no one seemed to care we had mojo sauce dripping from our chins. God bless wine for making you truly not care about table manners. Mussels fritta was a much less messy affair but ended up being my favourite. Simple, flavourful and a batter so light it could float away. I haven’t got a photo of that because I was scoffing it instead.
Dessert came in the form of a lavender and lemon creme brûlée. Below the perfectly crisp top lay a gorgeous custard, rich and creamy with enough lemon zing to keep it fresh. We all loved this, and the sparkling wine it came with. On that note… I didn’t manage to make a note of most of the wines we slurped, but safe to say they all went down well. I did, however, really enjoy the easy drinking Baccolo Veneto Rosso: a well rounded red that I intend to buy in bulk for Christmas.
A great evening reflecting the creativity and hard work (he had zero kitchen helpers for this) of a bloke who just wants you to eat and love his homestyle cooking. Some courses were definitely better than others but I left stuffed. It’s not meant to be posh, and it’s not trying to compete with the tasting menus of the city’s big boys. What is though is honest and hearty, and decent value as a supper to savour. It’s also a lovely way to meet new people; I ended up going dancing with several of them until the small hours, actually.
Upcoming supper clubs will include steak, and Chinese dinners. If you’re reading this, Mike, count me in for one of them… once my liver has recovered.
Digbeth Market Kitchen, The Anchor, 308 Bradford St, Birmingham B5 6ET
Disclosure: I paid in full for the ticket, which included all of the food and drink. All words, photos and opinions are mine.