Shh! It’s a secret! This week I attended my first underground dining experience: the DC Supper Club.
Remember when The Washington Post ran that story about underground supper clubs? There was a brief moment when it seemed these clubs would be the next cupcake. A hot foodie trend that would grow and grow, reaching critical mass until foodies declared it passe. Kind of like that whole speakeasy thing.
Due to, one can only assume, fairly stringent health codes, legalities of serving food to the public and other such regulations, the baby trend hasn’t grown much (thankfully). But DC has a flair for the secretive, the underground, the “I know something you don’t know!”– so we’re not without options.
I’ve heard about and been invited to join other underground dining clubs, but, to be frank, the price tags had kept me away. You can safely assume you’ll be dropping $60 to $100 or more depending on the club.
DC Supper Club website: “Sign up for the next Supper Club which happens monthly at an undisclosed location. You will find yourself enveloped in a twelve course gastronomic experience like you have never had before. This is not just a dinner… It ‘s an event designed to inspire, fulfill, intoxicate, and involve all your senses.”
So what got me out? One Amanda Hesser, New York Times food writer, cookbook author, and co-founder of Food 52 (check her out… you won’t be disappointed). Her just-released cookbook served as inspiration for the meal, and she would be in attendance herself.
I bought my ticket more than a month ago and, until last week, had almost forgotten about it. I received an email out of the blue. “This is confirmation of your attendance at the October 27th Essential New York Times Supper Club at 6pm hosted by Chef Bryon Brown and Amanda Hesser. The Supper Club will be held at [redacted]… ” and the email went on.
The hush-hush nature of the club is exhilarating without being cheesy or overplayed — there’s no knocking on secret doors and walking behind velvet curtains here.
The food is delicious, unpretentious. Think a meal like this is for foodies only? You’re wrong. This meal is for people who like to eat! Chef Bryon Brown tells you the story of each dish — where the meats came from, why a certain cut of pasta once was a sign of wealth, how liquid nitrogen is going to zap a grapefruit into granita.
Between bites, sips and lessons on food he’ll ask diners to shout answers to questions. “Where are you from?” “Find out something interesting about your neighbor and tell the room!”
This may be the best dinner party you ever attend. And not just because you don’t have to help do the dishes afterward.
- Where Am I Going: You’ll find out about week before the event. Chef will email you with details of where and when to show up for your event. (And shh! Keep it to yourself!)
- When Am I Going: Several events have been scheduled through January. Get your tickets early and quickly!
- Paycheck Pain: Each event is $90. I know this sounds steep, but I feel you get your money’s worth, especially when factoring in alcohol. You will need to bring cash for gratuity – it’s not included in the price of admission.
- Say What?: You know the pleasant buzz of a truly successful dinner party? That’s the decibel level you’re working with here. On average there are 30 seats per event — enough to mix it up but not so many as to make you feel lost in a crowd.
- What You’ll Be Eating: Each club is different. The Chef has branched out and is doing breakfast clubs now, which really makes my heart sing. No matter the theme, you’ll be eating 12 or so courses and enjoying several (bottomless) glasses of wine.