Mount Lavinia Supper Club // Barcelona
Very recently, I spent a weekend in Barcelona. On my wish list of things to do was of course a dinner at minimum one of the local supper clubs. Faraaj Hashim’s Mount Lavinia Supper Club, specialized on Sri Lankan food, seemed an obvious choice: I adore Asian food, and the event date on Saturday was likely to be on the safe side, considering that Germany’s airport security staff had announced heavy strikes just before the weekend. And last but not least, I had just read Martin Suter’s highly enjoyable novel “The Cook”. It’s the story of Maravan, a refugee from Sri Lanka, who earns his living in Zurich as a private chef, creating the most incredible and sensual taste experiences based on traditional recipes from his home country. With that in mind, I booked two places for me and a friend.
Mount Lavinia is in the first place a small catering and private chef business. Nothing much on the website indicates that Faraaj does also host Mount Lavinia Supper Club events in his private home, and that even pretty regularly on weekends. His culinary activities started with him being frustrated about the Asian food available in Barcelona. Unrecognizably modified and adapted to local taste, it had little to do with what he knew from home. And although he was coming from a completely different professional background, he decided to bring authentic Sri Lankan home-style cuisine to Barcelona. The menu he sent me a couple of days before did sound really promising: A tuna and a chicken curry, 3 vegetarian dishes, a Sambal made from grated coconut with lime, chilli and onions, all served with rice and homemade bread: Nothing left to desire. Faraaj was even caring enough to ask in advance how spicy we would like our food on a scale from 1- 10. Something between 7 and 8, I replied back to him, hoping he would be able to translate that properly. And he was, no worries.
When we arrived, Faraaj guided us down a staircase lit up with candles to the kitchen/dining room. One guest had already arrived, a German living in Barcelona. Two others, a guy also from Sri Lanka and his Brazilian girlfriend joined us a little later, so we were ready to start. The food Faraaj had prepared was really nice and tasty, simple but delightful and heartwarming. So, why wasn’t I happy at the end of the night? Had I picked the wrong evening when Faraaj wasn’t really in the mood? Or had my expectations grown unrealistically high? I knew the menu before, I had read articles about Mount Lavinia and its cooking style, and I knew the regular price per person is €60. So none of that came as a surprise, and that is exactly where the problem lies: My supper club imagination was programmed to expect some surprise, at that price level anyway, an extra dose of hospitality that would make our dinner a special experience. It doesn’t take too much, a nicely decorated table to start with, maybe a welcome drink with a small appetizer, or some unusual ingredients to discover, a selection of wines to chose from (not just red wine which for my personal taste never goes well with Asian food, even though the red was good), a nice little dessert and tea or coffee after dinner.
Sadly, none of that was part of the deal, so my overall summary is that in terms of the food as such, the Mount Lavinia Supper Club has absolutely kept the promise, whereas the entire setup felt a bit uninspired and overpriced. However, this is my very personal view, based on one single event only. Other guests might have made a totally different experience. So if you want to explore Mount Lavinia yourself, check out the website and Facebook page for further information and contact details.