Words Helena Goodrich
‘Good food doesn’t have to be showcased by stuffy service’
‘I’m really excited. A bit nervous, but yeah, really excited.’ I am having a casual pint with Jimmy Garcia whilst he tells me about ‘Jimmy’s Supper Club’ which he will be hosting in Stratford throughout the Olympic games. ‘You could throw a stone to the Olympic park from where we are. We’re going to be that close to it you’ll hear the crowd going wild, the athletes will be coming in and out’ he informs me animatedly.
From when he arrived, late from another meeting, Jimmy has not stopped talking about his project and his passion is definitely infectious. Regardless of whether you have a ticket for an Olympic event you can head to Jimmy’s for one of many ‘Olympic themed’ evenings, whether a dodge ball tournament followed by dinner, a movie night with classics ‘Cool Running’ and ‘Chariots of Fire’ or a sports quiz night.
The food is mainly British with a twist including a canapé of ‘smoked duck breast with cherry three ways: cherry compote, cherry coke reduction and cherry and earl grey muffin.’ There will be a meaty main of ‘Trio of Pork: crisp pork belly, confit pig’s cheek and pancetta crisp with spiced apple purée and calvados jus’. The vegetarian option is a ‘wild mushroom brioche bread and butter pudding served with whisky jus’, a dish Jimmy allegedly used to woo his girlfriend. The sweet end to the meal will be a ‘deconstructed trifle.’ composed of ‘clementine jelly, cherry cream and an orange citrus biscuit. The recipes all showcase British produce, with mushrooms gathered from within the M25 area, meat from Smithfields, and British wines for a ‘wine tasting’ evening. Local, good quality ingredients are central to Jimmy’s cooking style; he states frankly ‘if you get amazing produce you don’t have to do crazy stuff with it, the flavours do the work.’ As well as dinners, which require booking, Jimmy will be running a drop in lunch service selling take away boxes for around a fiver. Options include a ‘Beijing 2008 noodle salad’ or a ‘Sydney 2000, surf and turf: shrimp and beef kebab.’
It seems like he’s got the right level of ‘themed’ fun here without descending into patriotic overdrive. Jimmy firmly tells me ‘the plan is to celebrate Britain with the food and what we’re doing without waving flags and singing the national anthem every fifteen minutes.’ The design will be far more minimalist than the garish designs currently dominating central London. Located in renovated warehouse ‘Annex East’, the bar/ restaurant has been designed by Danes Nikolaj Lorentz Mentze and Carl Emil Jacobsen. ‘My mum called me in a panic asking if we’d got loads of bunting’ Jimmy says, rolling his eyes, ‘I was like ‘Mum, no, I’m pretty sure that a guy who’s just flown over from Denmark, who has worked in New York, would be impressed if we covered his designs in bunting.’ An art exhibition is tucked snugly under the restaurant and features work by a selection of contemporary London galleries, including Hannah Barry gallery although, Jimmy jokes, the food and drink probably can’t be taken too near the art…
Ex- Stock Broker Jimmy has cooked for the South West Supper Club and Wild Food Kitchen but this is the first of his ventures that will literally have his name on it. He’s only twenty- five but impressively focussed, stating ‘when you know what you want, you’ve just got to go for it.’ For the next month he will be ‘sweating over the stove every night’ (not literally!) However, alongside the hard work that goes into his events, Jimmy is determined to create an informal atmosphere and has been ‘pretty stubborn’ regarding any suggestions of formalities such as black tie. Guests will be seated at communal tables on little wooden stools. ‘People shouldn’t expect silver service, I don’t really believe in that, people pouring wine every two minutes and calling you “Sir or Madame.” Good food doesn’t have to be showcased by stuffy service’ he explains, ‘It’s about having fun, enjoying your food and enjoying where you are really.’ Supper clubs are all about the atmosphere, as Jimmy states ‘That’s what makes it better than going to a restaurant.’ His motto? ‘Good food, good entertainment and good tiiiiiiimes.’ He then laughs and apologises ‘God sorry that was too much.’ Dinners on Friday and Saturday nights will be followed by DJ sets and live music until 2am and the Sunday brunch will include a live jazz band. Good times indeed.
The events are reasonably priced and Jimmy is keen to give people good value for money, telling me in his very northern accent ‘I want people to come and be like “Mate I’ve had an amazing time, I’ve had great value for money”, not “it was alright but a bit expensive” do you know what I mean?’
The really big event will be this Saturday, right next to the opening ceremony which will be screening live in the restaurant and you will even be able to see the fireworks.
The most confirmed Olympic scrooge should be swayed by Jimmy’s fun approach to this summer’s games. My prediction: it will take off faster than the 100m final.
Tickets start at £32 (including booking fee). Events from 21st July- September 2012.
Words Helena Goodrich