Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Secret's Out

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Underground dining has taken off all around the world, and I jumped at a chance to experience it for myself when Teresa of Senses and Style asked me to go. Secret dining clubs allegedly started in San Francisco, and they're now commonplace in cities such as Paris, New York, Hong Kong, and Barcelona.

The premise is that a local chef caters a private dinner party, typically 8-12 guests, at a top secret location not to be revealed until 24 hour prior to the event. You really are at the mercy of the chef - there's no guessing what the menu nor the company will be.

Above: 1st course of Thai Seared Beef salad, piled on top of a corn fritter and garnished with mint and cilantro

Below: Trio of scallops - with watercress, as a ceviche, and with miso.
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When hubby and I arrived at the address, I must say I was a bit anxious. In an age where technology often trumps mystery, it was very refreshing to go in blindfolds. Too often we check out Urban Spoon before we hit up a new restaurant. And hasn't Google streetview to an extent killed the beauty of a surprise? The idea of not knowing, and ultimately giving up control, added to the allure of secret dining.
Below: Slow cooked lamb shanks with lentil pilaf and honeyed carrots.

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Overall, I enjoyed the food and the intimate atmosphere (you are after all, at the chef's home). I would say the food was well prepared; it was quite tasty.

Below: Seared duck breast with bok choi
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Below: Port soaked berry bread pudding - most heavenly!
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I would say if one was traveling to a great culinary capital, oh say, like Paris, it would be very worthwhile to source out a secret spot. It's a great way to eat like a local, and well, eat amongst them too.

If you're interested in underground dining, there's a very comprehensive list of clubs for cities around the world at Salt Shaker.

8 comments:

Raul (hummingbird604) said...

Looks awesome!

Erin said...

that looks so yummy! i'd totally love to go to a secret dining.

VancityAllie said...

Mmmm that looks good. And how mysterious!

I'm not sure I could stand being that "last minute" about it all, but it definitely seems like it would to be fun to be all James Bond about it.

P.S. I'd like to go for dinner with you again, maybe in a month? Let's try somewhere new!

Haute World said...

They have these in Paris as you said, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet. I am a bit picky and would want at least a reduced menu though ;-)

By the way... did you say you were coming to Paris in August? If so, is there any way you can move your trip to another month? I would strongly advise you not to come to Paris during this time, because it's the 'dead month', i.e. the entire city shuts down. Most shops and restaurants are closed during this time because everyone takes the summer off. The major touristy sites, big department/high end stores and restaurant franchises will still be open, but if this is your first trip to the city, it would be such a shame to see it when it's almost empty (bar the tourists) instead of buzzing with activity. All the smaller shops, restaurants (including the Michelin starred ones) won't be open for you to enjoy and as a foodie and fashion lover that would be so unfortunate :/ I know that it's my least favorite month because all the markets, bakeries and restaurants I frequent are shut.

Niki B. said...

this looks so awesome! and secret dining? how blair waldorf and her secret society aspirations. haha. FYI - bieksa rumored to play tonight! perhaps a hump day hunk day comeback edition is in order? hahaha jk. i will never stop hounding you for more bieksa.

quelle said...

amazing! such a bad idea for me to view this post on an empty stomach...

i'd definitely like to try this secret dining!

lisa said...

I'd love to try a secret dining establishment someday!

xs said...

it sounds like such a fun experience! the food looked great; i'm glad you had the chance to be at a secret dinner exclusive.