I was very excited (or you could say doubly excited) when we were invited to a press dinner at the Disappearing Dining Club’s new permanent venture, a bar and private dining room inside LASSCO Ropewalk in Bermondsey.
DDC (as I will refer to the Disappearing Dining Club from now on) was founded by Stuart Langley, who definitely knows a thing or two about running restaurants and bars, and with Swedish Head Chef Fredrik Bolin on board the DDC has been hosting dinners and parties in private and unusual places since 2010. They opened their first permanent restaurant, Back in 5 Minutes, at the rear of a clothes shop on Brick Lane in June 2012. DDC also organise unusual weddings and corporate events. We have been lucky enough to have been at events where DDC did the catering – and the food was always superb.
I’m also a huge fan of LASSCO since I first stumbled across it a couple of years ago. I feel like a kid in a sweetshop when I enter this Aladdin’s cave full of bits and pieces salvaged from shops, hotels, schools, pubs, etc., which I discovered on an excursion to the Ropewalk Food Market in Maltby Street a couple of years ago. Here you find everything from unusual door knobs to vintage bath tubs, from abandoned luggage to fancy porcelain, from neon signs to old typewriters. Everything you see is for sale and as Stuart told us, it has happened that somebody had the chair they were sitting on sold from underneath them.
On arrival we were treated to a selection of cocktails from their short but perfectly formed Signature menu in the beautiful Barge Bar, which has been salvaged from a Victorian pub and rebuilt by the team at LASSCO, and the Textiles Room, which is filled with curtains, cushions and clothing made from reclaimed fabrics. Starting with a Serpentine (Cognac and sparkling wine with a grapefruit twist, made spicy by Szechuan pepper), this was followed by a Coromandel (Suze and Soju sparkling wine and chrysanthemum flower) and finally, before dinner, we had an Ottoman (rum with pomegranate, yoghurt, egg white and sprinkling of sumac), which was very popular not just with us, but just about everyone we talked to on the night.
The drinks menu, fittingly for the venue, brings together favourite classic cocktail recipes and tasty wines; a mix of old, new, lost and reclaimed. There is also a strong market influence, with Little Bird and Jensen’s gins, wines from Maltby & Greek, and beers from Hiver and The Bottle Shop all on the menu.
With the drinks came nibbles – a very moreish Curried Crab on DDC Guinness Bread – I would have been quite happy to eat this all night. Just give me the bowl and a spoon!, slices of Beef Carpaccio with Green Bean and Truffle Salad, choc-a-bloc with colours, flavours and textures and a velvety smooth hot Jerusalem Artichoke Soup.
Dinner was served by candle light and with non-obtrusive background music in the chandelier filled Eisenhower Room, built with wooden panels from the old US Naval HQ in Grosvenor Square, from which President Eisenhower helped plan the D-Day landings. The first course was a sharing board with warm Brick Lane Smoked Salmon & Dill Pickled Cucumbers, Beetroot Cured Salmon with Lemon Crème Fraîche and Potted Duck Orange and Black Pepper, all served with fresh sourdough bread and a crisp, chilled Ciello Bianco, Catarratto, Sicily 2014. Salmon and duck are two of my favourite foods, so I was a very satisfied customer indeed.
As mains we had Slow Roasted Pork Belly, Chorizo & Anchovy Boulangère, Pickled Kale and Salsa Verde. The pork was wonderfully cooked, very tender with a nice bit of crackling (this dish was another big hit with the crowd – at least on our table) and the kale and piquant salsa provided the perfect contrast to the rich meat. The boulangère potato dish, on the other hand, did not quite hit the spot for me. But I did like the red wine that was served with the main meal, Cuvée des Galets, Grenache/Carignan, France 2014, a full bodied buttery wine bursting with berry flavours which was served in a carafe.
Back in the bar and we all got to taste the DDC’s own Eggy Bread with a Spiced Raspberry Compote along with a couple more cocktails: Chandan Box, a rye whiskey with olorosso sherry, Carpano antica and pure sandalwood and the Carpenters Cup, a refreshing gin drink or, as one of the waitresses called it, a posh Pimms.
We had a very enjoyable evening and if you want to experience fantastic food, cocktails and wine, prepared and served with flair and thoughtfulness in unique surroundings, we thoroughly recommend the DDC at LASSCO Ropewalk.
The DDC take bookings for drinks and dinner and private dining is available throughout the week, as are DDC-made snacks from the bar and menus change with the season. On Saturday and Sunday daytimes you can bring food in from Maltby Street market.
Ropewalk is a partnership between Disappearing Dining Club and LASSCO, owners of Brunswick House in Vauxhall, Maltby Street Market in SE1, and Three Pigeons in Oxfordshire.
DDC will be opening a third permanent location, a wine bar and restaurant, in Smithfields in April 2016.
DDC have been using their dinner parties to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust since 2013. The money raised (diners are asked to contribute £1) will help fund and build specialist units in NHS hospitals and provide dedicated staff to support young cancer patients.
Ropewalk / 41 Maltby Street, SE1 3PA
Thursday & Friday 5pm till 10pm
Saturdays Noon till 10pm
Sundays Noon till 5pm
Nearest stations; Bermondsey, London Bridge & it is also served quite well by a number of buses.
To book a table and for any other queries about Ropewalk please call 020 3793 0202 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.