Two Magpies Bakery launches pop-up supper club

Middle Eastern cured salmon. Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Middle Eastern cured salmon. Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis - Credit: Archant

Norwich chef joins forces with award-winning bakery.

It's easy to miss Two Magpies Bakery on Southwold's high street. The award-winning shop is, after all, rather petite.

Walk a couple of steps past the door, however, and your nose will point you in the right direction as wafts of yeasty goodness, butter, chocolate and coffee dance past on the sea breeze.

It was an altogether different aroma that drew diners in last week, however, as the bakery/cafe hosted the first of a series of monthly pop-up dining experiences in association with chef Sam Pheonix-Hanison.

A table, seating just 12, filled the space, laden with tins of famous Two Magpies sourdough, twinkling candles and jam jars brimming with jewel-like colours – setting the scene for the evening's Middle Eastern theme.

Owner Rebecca Bishop and partner Steve milled about with guests as they arrived, offering a personal, unstuffy, hearty welcome as Sam got to work on the cocktail of the night – a fresh rhubarb martini, made with a hefty dose of Adnams gin.

I've always loved communal dining. It's a wonderful chance to meet new people, and the sense of conviviality abounded at Two Magpies, with a flow of conversation up and down the table as locals and holidaymakers shared their stories while quite literally breaking bread.

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The aromas coming from the kitchen were undeniably mouth-watering and chef Sam said he's relishing the chance to unleash his food on diners every month, with a different theme each time (in June it will be Asian).

Cooking runs through the foodie's blood. His parents ran a pub in Norwich, Sam had his own deli in the city (103), and his career has taken him all over the world, from being Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's personal chef, to working in Australia and developing recipes in the UK for brands such as Marks and Spencer.

The chef has now launched Folk + Fare, bringing collaborative dining events to the east of England. And he's loving living near Southwold, where he's growing his own veg, and even harvesting honey from his own bees – a wedding gift!

To begin Steve (who needn't have worried about being a 'rubbish waiter' because he was fab) brought out 'snacks' of jet black squid ink crackers piped with brackish, garlicky oyster mayo, golden parcels of chicken and pistachio pastilla, and pork crackling. A good start.

Empty plates cleared and it was onto the starter. Buttery soft, succulent Middle Eastern cured salmon, given texture by a sprinkle of Egyptian dukkah – an aromatic blend of toasted seeds and whole spices.

The main course of juicy chicken supreme, glistened under the lights, with a hum of spice from harissa, and came with wholesome spoonfuls of freekah – a salad of grain, good olive oil, fresh herbs and tiny, sweet-sour barberries, sat aside a smoky, undulating pool of softened, smoky aubergines and tomatoes.

There was a sinus-clearingly boozy palate refresher of gin and cucumber granite after, followed by a gorgeous dessert of baked dark chocolate ganache, anointed with crunchy rye crumbs, and sea salt, and served with crème fraiche ice cream, and baked figs, drizzled with honey from Sam's own collection.

And as if we weren't already full, Allpress coffee arrived at the table, with Rebecca's petit fours – toasty nougat, cardamom and dark chocolate truffles and caraway studded biscuits.

Not bad value for £45 per person.

'Our hopes for the supper clubs,' said Rebecca, 'are to create an informal dining experience that showcases both our skills without the restrictions of a set restaurant. We hope this will give us the opportunity to be creative with ideas and concepts, source seasonal local food, and create something a bit different in terms of a food offering in Southwold – for locals and visitors. We will be hosting the event on the first Thursday of the month and the next one is on June 7.'