Review – Tina CanTina Supper Club
An evening at Brighton and Hove’s premier Supper Club, hosted by the ever wonderful Tina Cantina, is an experience not to be missed. For those of you perhaps a little behind, a Supper Club is an evening spent dining in a strangers house, often surrounded by other people with whom you have never met before. The Supper Club host, in this case Tina, supplies you with a set amount of courses. Money is exchanged beforehand and as is the case at Tina Cantina’s in Hove, the stunning five course Middle Eastern tinged menu costs a mere £35. Oh and you can bring your own booze too.
The idea of dining amongst complete strangers, in a house you’ve never been in before may seem a little strange. But fear not, Tina provides a relaxed and acutely welcoming environment, putting any qualms or nerves at ease. Upon arrival we were treated to an aperitif of spiced rum and mingled in the lounge of Tina’s gorgeous split level apartment, our alcohol and coats whisked away by Tina’s glamorous assistant.
Once all sixteen guests had arrived, we sat along in rows of eight on an immaculate dining table, laden with vintage crockery and glasses for our now nicely chilled wine. Having placed myself opposite my companion, Molly, I found a group of fairly smashed teachers to my left and a larger group of friends to my right. The group was completed by two women who had driven for over an hour from Chichester to experience Tina’s fantastic cooking.
Starting with a warming cup of parsnip and cumin soup, this was a delightful introduction to the fare of food that would guide us through our Friday night. Lightly spiced and presented in an ornate miniature mug, this introduction to Tina’s cooking already had tongues wagging and murmurs of appreciation.
Tina followed by serving a quaint mezze of cauliflower fritter, baba ganoush, pomegranate and saffron labneh. A fantastic combination of flavours and textures on the individual mezze plate, with the stand out being the smokey baba ganoush that went well with the sweetness of the droplets of pomegranate.
A mixture of delicate spiced local sea bass on a bed of crunchy celeriac, fennel, apple and walnut orzo followed with the main event being Tina’s slow cooked south downs lamb with harissa, black cabbage and chard freekah pilaff, a tahini sauce and chilli and herb relish. Presented to restaurant standard, this dish stood out as the highlight of the evening. The harrissa lamb fell apart in the mouth and stood up with a strong kick against the cooling tahini sauce and mild relish. The freehah pilaf brought a much needed earthy flavour to the plate and balanced the concoction of spices nicely. Seconds were had and I don’t think there was an empty plate on the table.
Bottle of Sauvignon Blanc finished, chatter and laughter filled the room amongst this group of strangers. Dessert of rhubarb and almond cake with poached rhubarb, rose cream and pistachio praline was a sweet end to the supper club, with chocolates and coffee served to those with space left.
Tina is a marvel and her supper clubs are a dining experience in Brighton not to be missed. Tremendous food with sprinkles of Middle Eastern magic, Tina CanTina is the dining experience of 2014 and one not to be missed.
Tina CanTina is available to hire to cater for private events. Supper Club advanced booking highly recommended.
Words and photographs by Claire Beveridge.