If anybody ever told Chef Jono not to play with his food while growing up, he clearly never listened – but thank God for that. The dishes on display at his pop-up supper club in Oporto suggest that Yorkshire may have found itself a new hero. Where else would you see cheeseburger spring rolls, pork belly and ice-cream sprinkled with bacon on the same tasting menu?
And, before you roll your eyes and file this whole concept under hipster-yuppie garbage, stick with me. There’s some absolute gems on this menu, which cleverly fuses Asian dishes with everything from US comfort food to classic British staples.
We began proceedings with a Chilli and Cucumber Daiquiri cocktail from the darn fine XO Supper Club drinks menu. Blessed with Santa Teresa Claro Rum, ginger liqueur and homemade cucumber and chilli gomme, it was a fiery little number and my personal favourite of the three cocktails on offer.
For the first course, we were treated to the now legendary Cheeseburger Spring Roll. Presented in a polystyrene takeaway chip box, it was so hipster it hurt, but got away with it due to its incredible taste. Chinese and Thai takeaways should take note. If I had a penny for every rubbish spring roll I’d eaten in my life, I’d be a rich man. Cheeseburger it seems, is the new way forward.
Next up came the Sweetcorn with Parmesan Sriracha, which was the only dish that didn’t quite do it for me personally. I love all three ingredients, but together they were just okay.
Not to worry, as next up came the Intercostal Beef with Shiso and Koji, which was as unusual as it sounds yet also delicious (just in case you’re wondering, intercostal beef is the often discarded but very tasty meat found between the ribs).
This was soon followed by the Okonomiyaki Bonito, which is a savoury Japanese pancake consisting of egg, meat, shredded cabbage and bonito flakes. Now, this was one ugly looking dish, proving that you really can’t judge a book by its cover. This flavoursome treat is perfect for the midnight munchies, and is just made for soaking up excess beer.
The last savoury dish was the Bossam (Korean Pork Belly), which was a real crowd pleaser and worth every single calorie, of which there were many. Accompanied with a lovely sauce and some lettuce leaves to wrap the soft tender meat in, it was a complete win. By now, we were getting close to being stuffed but left just enough room for the Hangover Cone.
Consisting of ice-cream, peanut butter, pretzels, raspberry brownie, crisps and bacon, this was another combination which doesn’t work on paper, but is in fact really bloody good. Trust me.
Chef Jono (AKA Bradford lad Jonathan Hawthorne) has done himself proud with this menu, and it’s no surprise he’s worked with Man Behind the Curtain, Headrow House, Mr Nobody and Domino Club on past projects. If you can’t catch XO Supper Club at Oporto, then look to follow the man on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to see where his next dining experience will reside. This is essential Leeds dining for anyone that likes to dive into new flavours.
Written by Jordan Fletcher