Sort-of Secret: Godfrey’s Supper Club, a pop-up serving weekly menus of Eastern European comfort food
A series that shines a spotlight on the city’s hidden edible gems
The sort-of secret: Godfrey’s Supper Club, a weekly dinner operation inspired by Eastern European comfort food
You may have heard of it if: You follow ex-Momofuku chef Shauna Godfrey on Instagram
But you probably haven’t tried it because: This one-woman show deals in limited quantities
The definition of “comfort food” is different for everyone, but it’s hard not to feel comforted by six plump, golden challah buns baking to perfection in your oven. Or a meltingly tender short rib, coated in crunchy pastrami spices and hefty enough to leave no room for any of that will-I-be-full-when-I’m-done anxiety. Chef Shauna Godfrey–who previously worked in the kitchens of Momofuku Kōjin and NYC’s Atera—cooks food inspired by her Polish-Jewish upbringing at Godfrey’s Supper Club, her weekly operation with a rotating menu. “The food I grew up with is what gives me comfort, and that’s the inspiration behind it,” she says. It’s a good strategy, given that virtually everyone could use some extra comfort these days.
In February of last year, Godfrey left her job as sous chef at Momofuku Kōjin, intending to travel for a while before looking for a new gig in the city. Life, meanwhile, had other plans. While catering a small film shoot near the end of last year, she started thinking about opening her own business; and after sending a few test meals to friends, she went for it. Godfrey’s Supper Club opened in November with a menu of sesame chicken schnitzel with pickled beets, challah buns (now a mainstay), apple and cabbage slaw, and a spiced pear cake.
Each menu follows a similar formula: there are typically challah buns with some form of spread (like herb butter or whipped cheese), a salad, a protein and something sweet. The hearty dishes are somehow both completely unpretentious and interesting enough to warrant ordering in advance.
A recent menu starred the aforementioned pastrami-spiced short ribs, which quite literally fell off the bone. The pastrami rub was a shout-out to deli culture, while the accompanying salad—escarole, golden beets, and frisée—was inspired by Godfrey’s grandmother Rose, who puts short ribs in her beet borscht. “My grandmother is an avid cook, and I talk to her every week about my menu,” says Godfrey. “She gets so excited, but she’s also my harshest critic.” Rose Godfrey, a 91-year old Holocaust survivor, is also behind the supper club’s challah recipe, which chef Godfrey repurposed into buns for a play on dinner rolls.
There was also a rectangular wodge of potato leek gratin—cheesy, toothsome and a perfect accompaniment for the short ribs. And for dessert, a wildly delicious walnut coffee cake. A stripe of crunchy walnut runs through a dense, rich and not overly sweet cake—which like many of her desserts, is made with sour cream for a tangy flavour and dense texture.
After Valentine’s Day, Godfrey will also start offering a menu of prepared items for the fridge and freezer, like hot mustard and oven-ready challah buns—a solid way to feel like an impressive baker with minimum effort. Meatballs, cabbage rolls and other goodies meant to supplement your cooking will roll out over time.
Pre-orders open on the website Sundays at noon and close on Wednesdays, or when the meal sells out. Pick up is available on Saturday afternoons, either at Dupont and Ossington or Yonge and York Mills, and $5 from every order goes to Foodshare Toronto. “This is my first time doing something that’s really my own, instead of working behind a brand,” says Godfrey. That’s one pandemic trend we can get behind.