The secret, it seems, is out. There have been a few pop-up restaurants ‘popping-up’ in Bristol every now and then in the last couple of years. I have only heard tales of Cloak and Dinner and Secret Service Supper Club, unfortunately being too late to experience them for myself. The new wave of Bristol supper clubs has certainly fed my craving for guerrilla dining recently, there now being lots to choose from. The pop-up restaurant is a slightly different concept in that it is usually more of a one-off and secretive event but much larger than a supper club, taking place in a church hall, dis-used warehouse, scout hut or other such building, rather than in someone’s living/dining room.
Mi Casa pop-up restaurant had its second event on the weekend of the 11th and 12th of February and I was lucky enough to get a place, thanks to a food blogger friend (much more in-the-loop than I) who secured some places early. The week of the event saw an explosion of publicity hype and so on the day I was buzzing with anticipation. I had no idea where I was going, or who else would be there, which all added to the excitement. It was certainly set to be a highlight in the Bristol foodie’s calender.
I arrived at the Scout hut to find three long communal tables set for approximately forty diners in total. I was sat on a table with other food and drink bloggers/writers/twitter foodies, so it goes without saying we had plenty in common and there was never a dull moment in conversation. The wine flowed and there was a real sense of occasion.
Our host, Kristjan, greeted the crowd of hungry diners by giving a little speech about the ethos behind Mi Casa and what inspired him and Chef, Alexis, to start a pop-up restaurant. The couple met when working together at Riverstation and now work at Rockfish Grill/Bordeaux Quay and Papdeli respectively. The food is similar in style as the aforementioned, as you’d imagine. On this occasion the theme was North African.
The communal dishes arrived at the table for the guests to share. To start, we had a mezze selection consisting of Labneh, sweet potato falafel, lentil salad, carrot, cumin and mint dip, red cabbage, cucumber and almond coleslaw and flatbreads.
For main course we were served stuffed lamb breast on a bed of saffron and onion potatoes and a cucumber, pomegranate and feta salad and aubergines on the side. The lamb was tender and juicy, really delicious. The juices from the lamb oozed onto the potatoes beneath, making them extra tasty. The salad was cool and refreshing, the sweetness of the pomegranate and creaminess of the feta married beautifully with the rich and flavourful lamb. The aubergine with crispy chick peas, yoghurt and tahini dressing was also very pleasant.
The dessert was poached pear, almond, pistachio and apricot filo tart. The baklava-style tart was light, sticky, sweet and crunchy. The poached pear was a little lack-lustre, although cooked perfectly. The filo tart alone would have been enough to satisfy my sweet tooth.
The meal was finished off with huge boards of Spanish cheese, membrillo and bread to share. A very welcome end to a fantastic meal and a unique dining experience.
The key to the success of the Mi Casa, and other such pop-up experiences, I believe is in the whole package; the sense of occasion, the entertainment, the service and ambience somewhere in between restaurant and dinner party, the sheer scale of organisation and planning it would have taken to achieve, meeting new people, and of course the food sourced, planned, prepared and cooked with passion, expertise and care.
The next event is the weekend of 25th and 26th March which is fully booked. The events should be occurring monthly so get in touch to make sure you don’t miss out.
Mi Casa is on twitter and facebook.
There are other pop-ups coming up too, including Castellano’s All About Pig seven course celebration of pork on the weekend of April 1st and 2nd, which I’ll be attending so watch this space for the review.