There is something to be said about a complete dining experience, especially one filled with mystery, intrigue, great art and a killer DJ. Last Saturday I had one of the best dining experiences of my life at an underground supper club in Chicago.
Our mystery dinner began a few months earlier when we booked a date and a clue online (i.e. Saturday June 5th near Chinatown). We didn’t hear or see anything about it again until the week prior to the event when Efrain, the founder and chef, sent our menu and location. We arrived at our newly disclosed point of interest at 7:00pm sharp. G had accused me of navigating incorrectly to our secret dinner locale, so I was more than happy to hop out of the car and into a nondescript three flat near Chinatown. Upon our arrival, there was no secret handshake or password to be whispered to a gatekeeper. We were simply greeted, checked off the list, and told to sit whereever we pleased. We took a moment to mill about the room taking in the art hung on the white walls. Local artist Alexis Nido-Russo was sharing her work with us tonight and dining at the table next to us.
Diners began to arrive steadily after 7 and soon our table was full of old friends or couples, strangers, eager to share their past experiences with the supper club and excited about the Strawberry and Herb Feast to come. While we got to know our neighbors, DJ Moppy was mixing in the background. Our first sampling was a tasty and interesting, bacon wrapped strawberry amuse. Most meals are BYOB but on this occasion libations were served as well. Now I’m no drinker, so when a shot of tequila in rhurbarb sorbet came with our next dish of lake trout gravlax placed on a totopo, I knew I was in trouble. Shortly thereafter, I began to rhythmically twist my arugula and garlic pesto pasta around my fork to the beats of DJ Moppy’s mixes. Our next dish was a beautiful strawberry and spinach salad with a strawberry mint mimosa. However, my favorite dish of the evening was the grilled walleye with pistachio oregano butter, peas and mashed potatoes. I don’t even like mashed potatoes… In fact I have not placed them on my plate at any Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner since the year 2000. But these potatoes tasted so good with the walleye and peas that I may have to give mashed potatoes another shot.
This experience completely changed my mind on communal dining and at the end of the night I almost didn’t want to leave. I enjoyed getting Karlisa’s opinion on my crooked and often blurry food photos and discussing traveling, Berkshire pork, and Indian food with Anne. This experience made me realize that I should be asking more from my usual restaurants… more mystery, more fun, and more seasonal ingredients!
Other Food Photos from the Evening: