Jackson Levine supper club

What is the secret to a successful dinner party?

For Ina Garten, world-famous TV chef ‘Barefoot Contessa’ and East Hampton’s hostess with the mostess, it’s all about welcoming her guests, “I try to greet my friends with a drink in my hand, a warm smile on my face, and great music in the background, because that’s what gets a dinner party off to a really fun start.”

But for new London supper club duo Laura Jackson and Alice Levine, the guidelines are far more straightforward. “We get everyone shitfaced,” they tell me.

Jackson and Levine are the refreshing double act on the celebrity food scene, hosting a supper club every two months at Jackson’s Hackney home (an old converted shoe factory she shares with her photographer boyfriend and their whippet, Barry).

The supper clubs are a side project for both Levine, a Radio 1 presenter and Jackson, an ITV presenter. They didn’t get involved in supper clubs to share their culinary prowess with guests – “It takes us a thousand times longer than it would take a chef to do all the prep. We have breakdowns over focaccia bread,” deadpans Levine. Rather, the evenings they host are a labour of love, “we’re proud that we’re home cooks. We’re into food, eating and cooking but we don’t want to be restaurant chefs.”

We get everyone shitfaced.

Once every two months, in preparation for their guests, they typewrite menus, decorate the house with flowers and shrubbery and play a special dinner party playlist of Northern Soul records. The women serve up whatever they fancy, citing Yotam Ottolenghi and Moro, (the North African and Mediterranean restaurant in Exmouth Market), as inspiration, but they also gush with enthusiasm for French bistro classics, British seasonal ingredients and Italian hare ragu. They’re fun, relaxed and creative; ideal qualities in a host.

An air of frantic goofiness surrounds them, and I can imagine them having mini-disasters backstage. There they are frantically searching for mint before realising it was never purchased or doubling the butter in a roux by accident.

“How does the dynamic work in the kitchen?” I ask. “Does it work in the kitchen, Emily?” Alice fires back laughing. It seems that guests are never aware of things gone awry.

As hosts you couldn’t ask for anyone better. Although they attribute part of their supper club’s success to the inebriated state their guests are in (thanks to the Jackson Levine welcome drink – a gin cocktail with elderflower and cucumber, topped with champagne and Cava, fondly dubbed ‘rocket-fuel’ by Levine) – I’d put it down to personality. They have a great story, a meet cute that’s almost too good for a rom-com. Levine describes meeting Jackson while they were both wearing bum bags and eating a pot of Gizzi Erskine’s pot of chilli con carne at an Oxfam jumble sale.

They are also both wonderful story tellers. With both women presenting over the years, Levine for Big Brother and now Radio 1 and Jackson doing a host of dating shows before her trip to the Isle of Fernando to do Take Me Out – The Gossip. They are never at a loose end and are are indefatigably entertaining.

Despite claiming amateur status, Laura Jackson and Alice Levine are killing it. Only five supper clubs down and the girls have already established themselves as the new favourite London foodies, earning a nod from Jamie Oliver when he asked them to host a supper at Big Feastival. They have landed collaborations with brands like Habitat and Miss Selfridge and, more recently, the role as food writers for Elle Magazine.

Here they share with SUITCASE Magazine their favourite places to eat in London:

Laura Jackson

Rochelle Canteen

This restaurant is one of our absolute favourites (but it was my favourite first!) set in the courtyard of an Old Victorian School. They serve amazing British food but only for breakfast and lunch so it feels more exclusive. Although lots of people go there it still feels like a secret as you have to press a buzzer to get in. In the summer you can sit outside in the courtyard where they have an old school hat rail with lots of straw hats you can wear.

Morito

My boyfriend and I love this place for an alternative Sunday lunch. It’s a Spanish tapas restaurant which does amazing small plates and cava with pomegranate. It was started by a couple who own a restaurant called Moro in Exmouth Market, a fancier option to Morito and a great food inspiration for our supper clubs.

Palomar

This is my new favourite place in Soho. It’s an Israeli restaurant with Yotam Ottolenghi Jerusalem vibes. Small plates and good flavours. Everyone must try the deconstructed kebab.

Trullo

This restaurant was set up by two guys, one who was an apprentice for Jamie Oliver’s 15 restaurant and another guy who trained at the River Café. They wanted to make a River Café-esque restaurant with reasonable prices. They do a cheaper lunch deal from Monday to Thursday. The menu is always changing, and it’s beautiful – so a great place to take a date.

Alice Levine

Hash E8

Lovely decor and excellent brunch with innovative additions. Who doesn’t want pork belly with their eggs and hash browns if a morning?

Moro

This North African/Spanish influenced restaurant is the reason I want to do a sourdough bread course. They are so friendly there too – if you’re not sure what something is they’ll often let you try a bit before you order. So many flavours that I now use in my home cooking.

River Café

This restaurant is incredible but also pricey. BUT, their winter set lunch from 16th January, such a bargain at £25 for two courses.

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Empress, Victoria Park

For a special treat go and try the crispy pig’s ear.

C&R Café

My best kept secret – a smouldering bowl of Singapore laksa for £6, I always go here with my boyfriend, Ed.

Sodo

Another local, Clapton sourdough pizza joint, they use Growing Communities ingredients (we used them too for the supperclub – they’re a great initiative).

Shanghai in Dalston

For dim sum.

Les Terroirs

For anchovies on toast with French butter and shallots.

Blu Top Ice Cream

This brilliant new start-up in South London, they’re doing pop-ups here and there. And they provided us with the most incredible salted toffee apple ice cream for our supperclub on Friday. Check out their instagram – so amazing.

Rochelle Canteen

Morito

Palomar

Trullo

Hash E8

Moro

River Café

Empress, Victoria Park

C&R Café

Sodo

Shanghai in Dalston

Les Terroirs

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