MasterChef Sessions With Tabl: Mark Holland & His Yorkshireman’s Tale
It’s often the events you don’t expect to be your kind of thing that end up being the most enjoyable. Last week, we went along to Tabl‘s MasterChef Sessions: Mark Holland and his Yorkshireman’s Tale with The Elmore Jam in Islington (£44pp). We’re not massively into supper clubs, as we’ve mentioned before, yet when we do go they turn out to be the best nights – ones that will be forever etched in our brains.
Tabl is ‘the new home for pop-up kitchens, “secret” supper clubs and food adventures.’ With events in London and Brighton held in restaurants such as Shotgun plus in private residences, like this one with Mark Holland and hosted by The Elmore Jam, a father and daughter duo with backgrounds in show production and design, as well as hospitality.
Their house is stunning! The basement is a beautifully crafted space perfectly suited to hosting supper clubs (and by the looks of their giant speakers, throwing jumping parties too). The open kitchen is the heart of the room, bathed in the glow of the quirky copper heat lamps. If the kitchen is the heart then music and art is the soul – a jukebox is tucked in a corner, a piano and drum kit take centre stage with contemporary paintings and illustrations hang on the walls. We actually inadvertently walked straight past on the way there, admiring the candlelit basement terrace, jealous of whoever lived in such a fab looking home. Now we knew.
We arrived a little early, whilst they were all still setting up, so we were handed a Negroni and headed out to that terrace we had been admiring moments earlier. As we watched the other guests arrive, it looked like it was going to be a full house. There were a few couples like us (but younger and much better dressed), a few groups plus a large birthday gathering. So a very missed bag, that’s the beauty of events like these MasterChef Sessions.
As everyone mingled around the live jazz trio sipping cocktails and eating canapés we sat down in front of their open kitchen, immersed in the theatre of chef Mark Holland. Harrogate-born Mark is sous chef in Highgate’s renowned The Bull and Last, he reached the final five of MasterChef The Professionals last year. There’s something somewhat hypnotic about watching someone cook. Ade went into a trance watching Mark’s dexterous skills, you could almost feel the concentration radiating from him.
After a belly full of mini scotch eggs, pulled lamb belly char siu bao and salt cod brandade crostini canapés, it was time to be seated for dinner. It was that dreaded moment of fear of who we’d be sat next to, luckily we were opposite a really lovely young couple with no awkward silences or dull chat.
It was one of those evenings where I realised just how old we are talking to these two young-uns. The guy was a huge fan of Mark Holland, I doubt very much this will be his last appearance at one of the MasterChef Sessions. It was adorable watching his face light up watching him prepare our food in front of us. A keen and obviously talented home-cook himself, but lacking in confidence, it was clear to see his heart lies in food. We’ve followed each other on Instagram and wouldn’t be surprised to see him popping up on our screens one day as an amateur Masterchef cook.
We kicked off with braised lamb neck fillet, goats cheese, peas, broads beans and wild garlic. Absolutely perfect, just a few simple ingredients but perfectly cooked and bursting with flavour. And don’t even get Ade started on the lamb sauce – so rich, so meaty, so give him some more!
Whilst we waited for our main course, we popped the old two-shilling coins (that’s 10p to the young-uns) that were placed on our ‘set list’ menu into the very cool 1970s juke box. By the time we’d chosen our songs (and accidentally requested the same track twice), our main was ready.
A twist on Mark’s MasterChef ‘critic round’ dish – hazelnut crusted cod fillet, burnt Roscoff onions, caramelised onion puree, monks beard and brown shrimp. Earthy and satisfying, bold and seasonal – we could have eaten this course over and over again, especially the onion puree.
Dessert of warm pistachio and olive oil cake, Yorkshire rhubarb and hazelnut praline ice cream kept us all quiet and tipped me over the edge of fullness. The sharp rhubarb being the perfect foil to the sweet Nutella infused ice-cream. We’d finished our bottle of cheap BYO wine and time was ticking on, our thoughts of getting an Uber home were scuppered by the high fare.
This area of London is one of those frustrating places that’s quicker for us to drive to rather than endure a two-hour commute home. We both had such a fantastic night and can still recall all the flavours of everything we ate which speaks volumes. Life’s too short, we so should have nipped out for more wine and got that Uber…
We ate at MasterChef Sessions: Mark Holland and his Yorkshireman’s Tale as guests of Tabl, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.