My wife took me out to the ‘Supper Club‘ at the newly opened Waitrose in Haywards Heath earlier this week. I wouldn’t be writing about it here if the Daily Mail hadn’t done a hatchet job review that totally misaligns with own experience.

That’s me in the blue shirt with my back to the camera

The title of this post comes from the head chef’s introduction to the menu. He must have said ‘lovely’ over a dozen times.

Let’s examine some of the headline quotes..

‘I could make a better dessert at home’

Well, that was kind of the point. Diners were given a pack as they left with recipe cards so that they could use (Waitrose sourced ingredients) to make everything at home.

‘1970s style’ food

This seems to be a standard attack for anywhere with a prawn cocktail on the menu, since that’s probably the pinnacle of 70s retro chic; though I expect the same rock could be thrown at the chicken fricassee. I’m a child of the 70s, and I happen to like a good prawn cocktail. As fate would have it this was my second prawn cocktail in the week, and the second time where the menu had offered ‘brown prawns’. It wasn’t as good as the ‘half pint of shell on brown prawns with Marie rose sauce’ I got on Monday at the Lockhart Tavern, which came with many prawns that had roe attached, but that was the best prawn cocktail I’ve ever had. The Waitrose one was a lot less fiddly and time consuming.

Small portions and long waits

I’m not a small chap, and the quantity of food was more than enough for me (and I didn’t take any potatoes or eat half of the biscuits that came with my cheese). They were also pretty generous with the wine, with bottles left on the table for us to help ourselves. Mineral water was also free flowing at no extra expense for those choosing not to drink.

I never felt like I was waiting, which could have been just because the wine and conversation was flowing. There was also no wait to pay at the end (my most hated part of the usual restaurant experience) – just say goodbyes and walk away.

My own view

The communal seating wouldn’t have been my choice, but I’m an introvert at heart so I wouldn’t generally sit and chat to strangers. But these were nice middle class Waitrose buying strangers, and the conversation was in the end what made it an entertaining night out.

£70 for dinner for two would have also bought us dinner and a few craft beers up the road at the recently opened Lockhart Tavern, my new favourite in Haywards Heath. It wouldn’t have bought us 3 courses with bubbly, still wine, mineral water etc.

I enjoyed the food, I enjoyed the format, I’ll be back again for a new menu if they keep doing it. I might even try the chicken fricassee recipe at home (and if I have one ruined expectation it’s that I expected more emphasis on how to cook the meals). It was lovely.

It’s also worth noting that the #waitrosesupperclub Tweets belie the Mail’s version of events, and I’m told it’s the same over on Facebook.

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