When I lived in Townsville I spent every Christmas with my friend's Italian family, where I was served huge, delicious assortments of fresh antipasto, homemade gnocchi, and sinful amounts of biscotti for dessert. So when I was invited to review the Tuscany Supper Club, my expectations were pretty high.
On a Sunday night, a friend and I headed to the secret West End location. Our destination was an old Queenslander on a residential street, quaint but nondescript; we weren't even sure if we had the right place. But when we knocked on the door, we discovered a unique dining experience contained within.
It's a novel concept – three cooks opening their home to the public for a home cooked Italian meal. The Tuscany Supper Club is a dinner party without the work, or a restaurant without the other patrons. Kind of like My Kitchen Rules, but no eliminations or catty Tasmanians.
The setting is cosy and intimate. The guests are seated in a small room, around a table that is actually an upcycled door. The table was adorned with fresh flowers and candles, and menus were thoughtfully provided. Strawberry Bellinis were provided on entry.
We were introduced to the six other guests and, after some small talk, the meals were served. There were four courses all together – an entree platter, two pasta dishes, and dessert. A glass of Chianti rounded out the meal.
The food was fresh and tasty, perhaps not restaurant quality, but superior home cooked style. Honourable mentions go to the bruschetta with cherry tomatoes and garlic (and, thanks to one Italian diner, I learned that I've been pronouncing bruschetta incorrectly), the breadsticks with garlic eggplant, and the homemade pumpkin ravioli. The only problem was the sheer amount. By the time the second pasta dish was served, we'd had just about enough. Only half of us managed to finish our meals (and we joked that we deserved T-shirts and our photos on a wall of fame).
Our cooks provided professional service and the meals were served and cleared promptly. Despite the homely setting, and the presence of one very bold cat, it didn't really feel like you were in someone's home.
The Tuscany Supper Club is a side project for husband and wife Donata and Andrea, who are both architects by day, and Donata's sister Guia, a geologist. The food is authentic Tuscan and uses the recipes and methods of their grandmothers.
The Supper Club is open two Saturdays a month. Diners may book as a group of up to eight, or come alone and join in with another group. The cost is $50 per person which includes dinner and a glass of wine. Bookings can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's hard to find authentic Italian cuisines amongst all the franchises in this town, and I would recommend the Tuscany Supper Club to anyone who wants to try the real thing. I also recommend arriving hungry – and wearing stretchy pants.