Go out to stay in, and discover Paris's food scene in unique ways – supper clubs are all the rage. Private locations, surprise menus and home-cooked food at these clubs attract gatherings of perfect strangers, who nonetheless know they have some important things in common – love of food, discovery and making friends. À table!
Most private supper clubs come with an air of spontaneity and surprise – which intriguing stranger might you end up sitting next to? But sometimes you want to know exactly who’s going to be at the table, sharing your truffle-spiked velouté of celeriac. That’s where Chilean chef Raimundo Briones comes in. You put together your guest list, then the former architect gets to work organising a supper club anywhere you’d like – at your own apartment, on a boat, on a rooftop overlooking the city lights, or at his place on the banks of the Seine. Briones is co-founder of Le Haut du Panier, which delivers locally grown vegetables and other lovingly reared produce to foodie Parisians in the know, so you can be sure you’ll find the finest ingredients on your plate – and in your tum.
The godfather of supper clubs, Jim Haynes has run a Sunday dinner party from his former sculpture studio for more than 30 years. And a rollicking party it is: the US-born host welcomes the first 60 or so people who ask to attend, whether they be locals or visitors from far-flung lands. Haynes memorises the guest list beforehand, so he can easily make introductions on the night, connecting philosophy students with truck drivers, retirees with cartoonists and painters. “If I had my way,” he says, “I would introduce everyone in the whole world to each other.” For a suggested donation of €30, diners chow down on an eclectic menu: Haynes calls on a rotating selection of chefs, so guests may be surprised by a British cook one Sunday, a Macedonian one the week after, or a Portuguese after that.
Inspired by the literary and artistic salons of 17th- and 18th-century France, Atlanta, Georgia-born host Patricia Laplante-Collins hosts social dinner events every Sunday at her apartment on the Ile Saint-Louis. Each week, a guest speaker or performer – past guests of honour have included singers, writers, film directors and a former Las Vegas casino boss – holds court while guests tuck into buffet-style dinners (€24) that include fusion dishes inspired by Laplante-Collins’s travels throughout Europe and the US. Networking evenings held every Wednesday are well attended by expatriates and locals keen on experiencing some true Southern hospitality.
Art and food make a delicious mix at this fortnightly supper club run by a trio of friends in an apartment on the Right Bank. Every other Thursday, Ana Diaz-Cano, Rosario Echecopar and Kristi McIntosh open the doors to a dozen or so guests, along with one other guest of honour – a photographer, singer, designer, painter, dancer, sculptor or musician who will discuss his or her work and experiences over the three-course meal. Chef McIntosh takes her culinary influences from diverse places including her native California and the Basque Country in southwest France, so guests sit down to such bursts of flavour as seabass ceviche, prune and goat’s cheese ravioli or a courgette and cinnamon soufflé (€75 suggested donation).
Over lime granitas or burrata and Provençal figs, over a beetroot carpaccio with a quail’s egg and anchovies, groups of strangers become quick friends at this cross-Channel supper club with events held in Paris and London. Themes and locations change every week; the Friday- and Saturday-night guests learn the address and door codes via text or email the day of the event. The suggested €100 donation includes aperitifs, canapés and a seven-course menu paired with wines. “We ask you to bring an open mind, enthusiasm and an appetite,” the hosts say. Delish.
16 guests, one chef and at least one Michelin star – this is the premise of Table Ronde, the swanky Parisian dinner club du jour. Based in the Marais, the club draws the curious and the prosperous with its experimental menus of contemporary cuisine, courtesy of a rolling lineup of cutting-edge chefs. The emphasis is on transparency: the venue (designed by architect Bruno Borrione) is laid out such that the diners sit face-to-face with the chef as (s)he cooks, and a dialogue between the two sides is encouraged. The King Arthur in question is Nicolas Chatenier, creator of the culinary marketing agency www.peacefulchef.com, and one of the best-connected guys in the field. If it's modern, progressive cuisine you're after, he's your man. Table Ronde hosts around three to four dinners per month. Reservations essential.