Stew, stew, glorious stew! There's nothing quite as comforting as a hearty bowl of homemade stew to warm the cockles, especially when it involves eating it in unusual surroundings whilst wearing Dickensian garb. So that's just what a friend and I did last week, as we ventured off to a fantastic dining pop-up called The Stew House which is one of the brainwaves by Adam & Kate, the creative duo behind The Dead Dolls Club (makers of creative spaces, interiors and art studios for hire).
Located in The Arch Gallery in Bethnal Green, this was a brilliant venue to host the meaty (and non-meaty) banquet for 108 diners no less. It was a magical feeling nipping through an unassuming door into a large inviting arch, glowing with candles and fairy-lights. At the far end was a cool bar serving wine, cocktails and cider, whilst two huge trestle tables dominated the entire length of the room, all creatively decorated with pretty fruit platters and feather arrangements.
We were given a warm welcome and shown to our seats where we drank wine and soaked up the ambience as other diners arrived and the banqueting hall gradually filled up. Soon the place was brimming with enthusiastic banter and top hats, deerstalkers, cravats and feathers aplenty. Music played in the background as we all tucked into the delicious dinner, all of it excellent. The stews didn't fail to impress and both the beef & ale and the spring lamb broth were spot on, tender and full of flavour. And I have no doubt that had he been there, Charles Dickens' infamous character, Oliver, would certainly have been asking for more! The only thing I felt was missing were dumplings. You can't beat a good dumpling in your stew. But the chunky bread was ideal for mopping up the gravy. We sat next to some really friendly and interesting characters, and all got chatting so much, we almost missed the last train home!
Cured Scottish Salmon with Sweet Cucumber Pickle, Rye & Cress
Butternut Squash & Goats Cheese Tart with Cress & Nut Dressing
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Spring Stews with Chunky Seeded Bread
Beef & Ale Stew
Spring Lamb Broth
Mixed Bean with Spring Greens
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Lemon Drizzle Cake with Rodda's Cornish Clotted Cream
I especially loved all the artwork adorning the walls by the curiously clever artist, Dan Hiller. He has a wonderful and unique style which was perfectly befitting of this Dickensian-inspired evening. If deer-headed men, or feathery-faced ladies appeals to your imagination, then you should definitely check him out.
I'm not sure if or when The Stew House will return, but judging by its recent sold-out success, fingers crossed The Dead Dolls Club decide to bring it back. And if they do, I suggest you get booking. You'd be stewpid not to. A huge thank you to Adam & Kate (and the team) for a truly fun, tasty and memorable evening. It was stew-pendous!
The Arch Gallery
289 Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9HA
3 course dinner £25 (cash bar)