Friday, 23 September 2011

A Foodie’s Errand: Dinner In A Supermarket

By Arthur Browne.

Ever considered eating dinner at a supermarket? We all know Fluid London readers are an adventurous lot but when my editor gave me the nod for that particular experience all I could bring to mind were rows of frozen peas and boxes of detergent. Oh, and having to wear seven fleeces to keep the air conditioning chill out of my bones. Yet, The People’ Supermarket in Bloomsbury, a place that would have made Abraham Lincoln proud - because everything they do is for the people and by the people – is no ordinary supermarket.

By day the place sells British produce wherever possible, sourced as locally as they can manage. But the aim is not exclusivity or to price ordinary folk out of shopping there. In fact, said People’s Supermarket is a social enterprise whose whole raison d’être is to give something back to its members for a wallet/purse-friendly annual sum. These members run the show, making the decisions on stock, working shifts in the supermarket itself, and generally helping to make the place a part of the local community rather than a corporate cut-out cornershop. Anyone can shop there but members benefit from a special discount.

I was present at the second ‘Supper Club’, a charming evening when the fruit and vegetable section is put to one side and tables are clustered together in an intimate but also thoroughly friendly gathering. Any supper club worth its salt needs to be convivial and this one lived up to expectations: I had excellent conversations with a lawyer, a coffee aficionado, a tech entrepreneur and a cultured Canadian. The topics came thick and fast, with feminism, footballers’ wives, fresh fruit and other topics that don’t begin with ‘f’ all featuring.

Showing that the People’s Supermarket founders are all-round good eggs, we were treated to cracking yummies from the supermarket which would otherwise have gone to waste, with every item on the menu coming from a sustainable source. I’m bound to say that it is an experience invented for foodies: among the numerous highlights were a juicy mackerel pâté, a delightfully coarse yet hearty British game terrine, and a ‘Little Black Pig’ hog roast featuring the most sumptuous pork, which truly melted in the mouth. It was even rounded off with a splendidly punchy Café Direct coffee blend which had me from the moment I caught a whiff of its aroma on the other side of the room.

We might have been on Lamb’s Conduit Street but with the People’s Supermarket going strong day and (sometimes) night they can take their pick from the produce it has to offer. So take your pick from Gazpacho’s Conduit Street, Hog Roast’s Conduit Street, Borough Wine’s Street...

If you’re interested to find out more about sustainable fish restaurants and gastro pubs in London, follow this link.


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