0 Love It
Save it

Underground supper clubs

Are these underground dinners really underground?

Photograph: Jeff Catt
The Rabbit Hole

SUPPER CLUB
The Side Door
Prices vary
WAS THE FOOD GOOD?
Yes. The meal previewed the food at the forthcoming Lettuce Entertain You spot Paris Club. Half of the dishes (scallop-and-uni tartar) were spectacular. The rest (braised short ribs) were merely solid.
WHAT WAS THE SCENE LIKE?
Cramped. It was cool that the dinner was held in LEYE’s Lettuce Lab (a.k.a. its test kitchens), but a few too many thirtysomething professionals crowded around the table.
WAS IT WORTH THE PRICE?
Yes. The $60 dinner (including tip), which featured eight dishes and unlimited wine, also included a $50 gift certificate to Paris Club.
BUT WAS IT REALLY UNDERGROUND?
The address wasn’t revealed until the day before, and there was no mention of its Lettuce affiliation. (Though being held at Lettuce HQ and having Rich Melman in the room kind of gave it away.) —David Tamarkin

SUPPER CLUB
X-marx
Usually $55–$65, plus tip
WAS THE FOOD GOOD?
Each dish of the BYOB Indian dinner I attended knocked my socks off, especially the dessert: honeycrisp apple financier with a cardamom cream sauce.
WHAT WAS THE SCENE LIKE?
I was one of the few X-marx virgins at the three-hour dinner, held in a sleek West Town antiques store/gallery. The young to middle-aged crowd sat at four long communal tables.
WAS IT WORTH THE PRICE?
Eh. Seven delicious courses for $55 seems like a steal, yet I left hungry.
BUT WAS IT REALLY UNDERGROUND?
Not really. Anyone can join the mailing list, and guests are e-mailed the dinner location 24 hours before the event. —Laura Baginski

SUPPER CLUB
Clandestino Dining
Prices vary
WAS THE FOOD GOOD?
Pig’s going out of style, but the inspired five-course pear-and-pork menu—dumplings!—rekindled my interest.
WHAT WAS THE SCENE LIKE?
The well-dressed crowd (average age: 40) at the swank South Loop loft was pleasant but not overly gregarious. Despite the tequila-spiked “Peargasm” cocktail and BYOB wine being passed, loners stayed lonely.
WAS IT WORTH THE PRICE?
Sure. Five courses for $79 plus tip in an utterly pleasant environment—a refreshing alternative to the long wait at the newest hot-shit restaurant.
BUT WAS IT REALLY UNDERGROUND?
The name is the most clandestine element. Tickets were sold via PayPal and the location was e-mailed the day before. In lieu of a secret password, a smiley woman at the door took my name and jacket. —Jake Malooley

SUPPER CLUB
Yo Soy
$50, plus tip
WAS THE FOOD GOOD?
Quite. Brian Riggenbach (one half of the couple who throw these things) creates dishes that straddle Chinese and Mexican cuisines; this night he served addictive Chinese pork empanadas, a hearty carrot soup and a sweet chicken dish fortified with cajeta.
WHAT WAS THE SCENE LIKE?
Brian and his cohost, Mikey Corona, are the warmest strangers you haven’t met yet. It’s not uncommon for folks to show up solo to these events and then leave with a hug from every guest. Also, the scene was very, very gay.
WAS IT WORTH THE PRICE?
Yes—though $50 doesn’t include wine (you gotta BYOB) or tips for the folks clearing plates and washing dishes.
BUT WAS IT REALLY UNDERGROUND?
Held in the host’s apartment (the address isn’t revealed until the day before), there’s a certain surreptitious aura to these dinners. Still, nobody would have trouble getting in—not even an undercover cop. —DT

SUPPER CLUB
The Rabbit Hole
Usually around $100, plus tip
WAS THE FOOD GOOD?
Definitively. It was a parade of excess (bone-marrow risotto) and experimentation (lamb chops paired with pecorino ice cream) with restaurant-quality execution.
WHAT WAS THE SCENE LIKE?
A mix of actors, gardeners and music-venue bookers in their late-twenties–early-thirties gathered around a dining-room table in a Logan Square apartment.
WAS IT WORTH THE PRICE?
$100 a pop (plus gratuity) is a lot to shell out for a dinner in someone’s home. On the flip side, I ate and drank so much (a cocktail, four glasses of wine and a beer were included in the price), I wasn’t hungry the next day.
BUT WAS IT REALLY UNDERGROUND?
The fact that the Queen of Tarts (the host) and the Cheshire Chef never disclosed their real names, nor whose apartment we were dining at, adds a touch of adventure—even if it’s in a borderline kitschy way. —Julia Kramer

SUPPER CLUB
Sunday Dinner
Usually $45–$65, tip included
WAS THE FOOD GOOD?
A bowl of minestrone and a (perhaps too) rustic sausage were simple, hearty exemplars of above-proficient home cooking. Only the dessert—perfectly textured panna cotta with candied grapes—blew me away.
WHAT WAS THE SCENE LIKE?
Three discernible contingents: hardcore foodie regulars, aspiring foodie yuppies and industry friends of the proprietors. Christine Cikowski, the chef behind SD (along with Joshua Kulp), holds most dinners at her Logan Square apartment.
WAS IT WORTH THE PRICE?
For the convivial, charming experience: yes. For what it costs to support local farmers and for the satisfaction of leaving uncomfortably stuffed: yes. For the starchy, heavy courses alone: no.
BUT WAS IT REALLY UNDERGROUND?
Sorta. Dinners are invitation only: You have to know someone who’s on the list to get on the list (and there’s no website to get on said list). Still, the list has 1,800 subscribers. —JK

Comments

0 comments