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Dining Underground With One Sister Inc. [Picture Heavy]

Dining Underground With One Sister Inc. [Picture Heavy]
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  • Dining Underground With One Sister Inc. [Picture Heavy]

    Post #1 - June 11th, 2011, 6:35 pm
    Post #1 - June 11th, 2011, 6:35 pm Post #1 - June 11th, 2011, 6:35 pm
    Preface
    I am not nearly as good a writer as my fellow posters David Hammond, Ronnie Suburban or yellow truffle. Unfortunately, I have to rely more on the visual aspect of my dining experiences. I hope this does not deter you from the restaurants I endorse.
    LTH has touched on food trucks and pop-up restaurants. One thing that seems to be missing are underground restaurants. X-marx and One Sister Inc. are at the forefront. I was lucky enough to dine at the latter.

    Iliana Regan hopes to open her restaurant in the next year or so. In the meantime, she is hosting communal dinners (up to 10 diners) at her place of residence. Iliana does not bill her diners, but rather has a suggested donation of 90 dollars for 12-16 courses.

    Here is a breakdown of our dinner

    Gazpacho passion fruit / cucumber / bubble tea
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    Salad Sponge honeys / goat milk / sunflower
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    Tomatoes manchego-edamamae / nasturtium / spice cubes
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    Hanging smoked watermelon / salmon roe / garnishes
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    Pierogi whipped yukon gold / truffle / homemade cheese
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    Scallop bay smoked mussels / peaches
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    Elotes Soup encapsulated / black beans / salsa verde
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    Pork Trotters carrots / tiny mushrooms / coconut
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    1 Pill Makes You Larger, 1 Pill Makes You Small foraged mushrooms / cocoa / chamomile
    Part One:
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    Part Two
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    Hand-Cut Pasta egg / taleggio
    Part One:
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    Part Two:
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    Oatmeal Dashi chia seeds
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    Bacon Ice Cream Koval whiskey / butterscotch / black pepper cone
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    Prosciutto Lamb / fennel
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    Duck Breast crispy skin / spicy peanut / granola / cherries
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    Mirepoix celery / carrot/ onion / white chocolate
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    Mexican Hot Chocolate strawberries / balsamic / Kentucky sorghum / basil
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    Sure, I can nitpick here and there; the duck was a little tough, mirepoix was a bit oversalted, and the prosciutto's saltiness overpowered the dish.

    but of the 16 courses, those were my only real complaints. I will be talking to people for weeks about what I loved from this dinner.

    To get on her mailing list, go to:
    One Sister Inc.

    Read more about Iliana at:
    Chicago Foodies
    Chicago Bites
    Chicago Magazine's Best of Chicago 2010
    Chicago Reader
    Chicago Sun-Times

    Because I am such a weak writer, I will of course be monitoring this thread closely to answer any questions people might have.
    Last edited by incite on September 26th, 2011, 10:19 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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  • Post #2 - June 11th, 2011, 9:44 pm
    Post #2 - June 11th, 2011, 9:44 pm Post #2 - June 11th, 2011, 9:44 pm
    I can't tell you if any of that would taste good to my lame palate but those were such beautiful pictures! You are very talented!
    The clown is down!
  • Post #3 - June 12th, 2011, 8:16 am
    Post #3 - June 12th, 2011, 8:16 am Post #3 - June 12th, 2011, 8:16 am
    WOW!
  • Post #4 - June 12th, 2011, 8:36 am
    Post #4 - June 12th, 2011, 8:36 am Post #4 - June 12th, 2011, 8:36 am
    Hi,

    Writing and photography may be different skill sets, to master each they do rely on practice.

    Thanks for "A picture is worth a thousand words" report.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #5 - June 12th, 2011, 8:38 am
    Post #5 - June 12th, 2011, 8:38 am Post #5 - June 12th, 2011, 8:38 am
    Wow is right and sounds delicious too - thanks so much!
  • Post #6 - June 12th, 2011, 9:35 am
    Post #6 - June 12th, 2011, 9:35 am Post #6 - June 12th, 2011, 9:35 am
    very pretty Photos!
    I can understand why the duck was tough, it was almost RAW!
  • Post #7 - June 12th, 2011, 9:36 am
    Post #7 - June 12th, 2011, 9:36 am Post #7 - June 12th, 2011, 9:36 am
    My only question, which I think you've implicitly answered: Did the food taste as beautiful as it looks?
  • Post #8 - June 12th, 2011, 9:52 am
    Post #8 - June 12th, 2011, 9:52 am Post #8 - June 12th, 2011, 9:52 am
    mhill95149 wrote:very pretty Photos!
    I can understand why the duck was tough, it was almost RAW!


    Thank you. After the meal, my friends and I stuck around to ask Ms. Regan some questions. We brought up the duck and she remarked that she was going to make a confit around 2am the morning of, but fell asleep. The plate did not turn out how she wanted. This was also the first meal of her summer menu, so we were her guinea pigs, and she was very receptive to feedback.


    chgoeditor wrote:My only question, which I think you've implicitly answered: Did the food taste as beautiful as it looks?


    The meal was fantastic. 2 days later and I'm still pretty amazed. Not only did the lady create a unique and awesome experience, but she churned out 160 plates in 4 hours with another dinner planned the next night.

    Forgot to mention that the meal is BYOB, and Iliana has two friends serve the table (so there is a gratuity).
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  • Post #9 - June 12th, 2011, 10:01 am
    Post #9 - June 12th, 2011, 10:01 am Post #9 - June 12th, 2011, 10:01 am
    This looked fantastic.

    Actually, I liked the descriptive text with your photos. I didn't feel like I was missing how lovely you thought the food was. It shows in your photos.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #10 - June 12th, 2011, 10:01 am
    Post #10 - June 12th, 2011, 10:01 am Post #10 - June 12th, 2011, 10:01 am
    incite wrote:We brought up the duck and she remarked that she was going to make a confit around 2am the morning of, but fell asleep.

    There is so much wrong with that sentence.

    Beautiful pics!
  • Post #11 - June 12th, 2011, 10:11 am
    Post #11 - June 12th, 2011, 10:11 am Post #11 - June 12th, 2011, 10:11 am
    cilantro wrote:
    incite wrote:We brought up the duck and she remarked that she was going to make a confit around 2am the morning of, but fell asleep.

    There is so much wrong with that sentence.

    Beautiful pics!


    I should e-mail her to get the exact story. The wine did flow.
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  • Post #12 - June 12th, 2011, 10:23 am
    Post #12 - June 12th, 2011, 10:23 am Post #12 - June 12th, 2011, 10:23 am
    Thank you for this really impressive writeup/photo gallery.
    I giggled out loud at the tiny mushrooms.
  • Post #13 - June 13th, 2011, 1:14 pm
    Post #13 - June 13th, 2011, 1:14 pm Post #13 - June 13th, 2011, 1:14 pm
    The only mushrooms I've ever gladly eaten.

    It's a texture thing...
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  • Post #14 - June 19th, 2011, 12:30 am
    Post #14 - June 19th, 2011, 12:30 am Post #14 - June 19th, 2011, 12:30 am
    Awesomeness! The saltiness/toughness has been ammended and some changes have been made, minor. Thank you guenia pigs, ;)....your photos and feedback is lovely. You were awsome diners and can't wait to have you back. Definitely come back mid-summer to experience some of the refinements and some new dishes.
  • Post #15 - June 24th, 2011, 10:53 pm
    Post #15 - June 24th, 2011, 10:53 pm Post #15 - June 24th, 2011, 10:53 pm
    I am really interested in attending one of these. I didn't see any information on her website, however. How does one get a golden ticket?
  • Post #16 - June 25th, 2011, 10:46 pm
    Post #16 - June 25th, 2011, 10:46 pm Post #16 - June 25th, 2011, 10:46 pm
    c_howitt_fealz wrote:I am really interested in attending one of these. I didn't see any information on her website, however. How does one get a golden ticket?


    to be added to her mailing list, shoot her an e-mail at ilianaregan@yahoo.com

    On her About Me page she lists the dinner dates open
    NEXT DINNER DATES:
    July 1st, 15th, 16th
    August 12th, 26th, 27th
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  • Post #17 - July 2nd, 2011, 10:27 am
    Post #17 - July 2nd, 2011, 10:27 am Post #17 - July 2nd, 2011, 10:27 am
    As Incite did an excellent job visually summarizing Iliana's summer tasting menu, I'll try to add some nuance and perspective to the nearly identical--save for a different ingredient or plating or two--meal I had here on 7/1:

    1) Chef Regan's cooking synthesizes the three major foci of the current era of fine dining--molecular, naturalism, farm-to-table--in ways that are clever and mostly sensible, and at points quite delicious; it was interesting to see, however, that the most successful dishes were very much in the Curtis Duffy vein, using great ingredients and technique to produce layers/waves of flavors, and the least were the sort of Carlson-esque deconstructions (e.g., elotes, a mirepoix dessert) that were more theoretical than tasty. Mind you, she's doing 12-16 courses out of a typical early 20th century Chicago apartment and kitchen--wild, I'd say.

    2) I found the Chef exceptionally adept at sauces and flavorings in a variety of states of matter (e.g., gels, cubes, purees--but no foams), most especially her ice creams and sorbets--and most especially the sunflower and bacon ones--even if they were overplayed throughout the meal. Where I think she's really going to turn heads, however, is with her use of herbs: they were exquisitely selected and presented, and in several cases they either elevated an excellent dish to a new level (e.g., the sponge, the carpaccio) or salvaged an otherwise pedestrian offering (e.g., the Mexican hot chocolate). If this is the future of "foraged" cuisine, I'm all in: more nasturtium, please!

    3) The herb whispering is also crucial to balancing out the sweet element that pervades some of the dishes, some to better effect (e.g., the morel mushroom ice cream cookie) than others (e.g., the rillette/carrot/coconut sorbet). One of the "interesting"--which I say because I suppose one would be critical of it in a fine dining establishment, but we were in the dining room of the chef's apartment--things about the sequence was the sweetness of some of the transition dishes, including a fantastic but somewhat incongruous oatmeal-dashi palate cleanser before the main proteins--constant surprises, I suppose, but the string of caramels, gels, butterscotches, and ice creams might have also deflated dessert.

    4) Iliana apparently already has a signature, the "This pill.." sequence, which transcends its conceptual cleverness to be quite brilliant: the tea is earthy, summoning taste memories connected to not only hot tea for a sore throat but winter bowls of miso and/or french onion soup, yet also has a faint but rich sweetness from the cocoa nibs; the chamomile gelee that came in the subsequent round is one of the better things I've eaten this year, just a perfect bite of herbal sweetness with an ethereal texture to match.

    5) I'm sure many will talk up the bacon ice cream as the best dish of the night--loved the sugar cone!--but for me it was the tartare, here with shrimp in the stead of the scallop shown in Incite's photo, that really shows the breadth and range of Chef Regan's talents. Here was a lovely, refined play on texture and flavor complexity, something you'd expect to find at Manresa or Avenues, with a fantastic interplay occurring between the elements of smoke (the mussels, the almonds), sea (shrimp, mussels), and earth (herbs, peaches in a sort of mousse)--just a really well thought-out and elegant course. I hope she sticks with this one, whatever form it might take.

    6) Two things I don't get about the new fine dining, Part A: the "mac n' cheese" course--you know, when they do the big rich pasta dish that you figure only people in Vegas or the Upper East Side would order? The tagliatelle here is pro, with that fantastic mouth-feel that only hand-cut can give you, but I find the usual trappings of the quail egg, the fontina cheese, the copious butter to be excess without delivering matching flavor; much better was the previous course, a deconstructed scampi, with the shrimp serving as the noodles and the swiss chard and Parmesan atop it delivering all the nutty, salty, and buttery love in a single bite.

    7) Two things I don't get about the new fine dining, Part B: dessert. Ever since having a mind-blowing dessert at Schwa in the spring of 2009, I've found dessert at nearly all of the modernist cuisine restaurants I've been to--including a bunch at Schwa that I can't even remember--to be lacking in significant pleasure; the same was true here. The mirepoix dessert, as seen above, was very clever, and the celery component reminded me some of Japanese mochi (maybe it was the green tea-like color?); on the other hand, the combination of white chocolate and onion caramel was, to be charitable, challenging, and I found the tiny mound of carrot ice cream not enough to salvage a somewhat dense and dry cupcake of sorts. The sorghum and basil added complexity to an otherwise vanilla study in the ancho-chocolate one-note connection--I hope Iliana doesn't feel mandated to do the typical chocolate dish here, as it's not necessary.

    8. Eating Chef Regan's food reminded me of my chance (fate? accident?) meals at Trio in '03, Schwa in '05, and Avenues in '09--moments when the genius of a chef (Achatz, Carlson, Duffy, respectively) was emerging and coalescing into something revelatory; I suspect that within five years, if and when she gets her own digs, we may well be speaking of her in similar ways. One of the other guests at the table said it was his tenth or so dinner at One Sister, and noted how quickly her style and talent were evolving--I'll say!

    And she is much too bashful and self-effacing for someone with this much talent.

    (Note: Iliana did say that much of the menu will stay the same for the remainder of the summer, though 5 or so new dishes will be subbed in as new produce comes in and out of season.)
  • Post #18 - July 2nd, 2011, 11:26 am
    Post #18 - July 2nd, 2011, 11:26 am Post #18 - July 2nd, 2011, 11:26 am
    chezbrad, thank you so much. I am so bad at articulating the way I feel about a meal that I have to express myself with photography. Your rundown is a perfect companion piece to my photos, and I'm glad you experienced One Sister Inc. Perhaps you and I should double team restaurants more often! :D
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  • Post #19 - July 3rd, 2011, 1:27 pm
    Post #19 - July 3rd, 2011, 1:27 pm Post #19 - July 3rd, 2011, 1:27 pm
    I know it may sound a little crass (or is this simply a case of if I'm asking it's probably not for me, anyway), but could anyone give me an idea of the cost of a meal like the one pictured above?
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #20 - July 3rd, 2011, 1:41 pm
    Post #20 - July 3rd, 2011, 1:41 pm Post #20 - July 3rd, 2011, 1:41 pm
    Incite's first post indicates a suggested "donation" of $90...
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #21 - July 3rd, 2011, 2:43 pm
    Post #21 - July 3rd, 2011, 2:43 pm Post #21 - July 3rd, 2011, 2:43 pm
    Nice CHEZBRAD. Thank you and well noted!!!! It's funny how some of the things that didn't thrill you... (e.g.) the white chocolate and red onion is still leaving your dining companion dry humping... :D However both those desserts are going to be replaced but they will still have garden vegetable and chocolate elements. I appreciate the feedback and it is certainly revelatory doing this in my home. Thank you for honoring that fact and the fact it is coming out of my tiny home kitchen all by my lonesome. You and incite should definitely come back together with your dining companions later this summer when some of dishes will be replaced.
  • Post #22 - July 3rd, 2011, 6:11 pm
    Post #22 - July 3rd, 2011, 6:11 pm Post #22 - July 3rd, 2011, 6:11 pm
    We - that is to say, me, my wife and 6 friends - will be dining "here" July 30th (possibly joined by another mystery pair to round out our 10?). I just shot her an email when I saw the posted date, told her the number in the party, and then confirmed a few days later when I locked in my pals (all of whom needed to book babysitting). FWIW, Iliana said nothing about a suggested price. Rather, she stated it was $90 a person, plus gratuity, to be paid by cash or check. If the level of craft is as high as it appears, this may currently be the best fine dining deal in the city, trumping even Schwa.
  • Post #23 - July 3rd, 2011, 10:03 pm
    Post #23 - July 3rd, 2011, 10:03 pm Post #23 - July 3rd, 2011, 10:03 pm
    For 90 bucks, did you get full?
  • Post #24 - July 3rd, 2011, 10:38 pm
    Post #24 - July 3rd, 2011, 10:38 pm Post #24 - July 3rd, 2011, 10:38 pm
    Hell yes you get full, stuffed even! It's 17 courses and it is a suggested donation of 90 plus gratuity. It's a freakin steal of a deal! And I'm happy to do it.
  • Post #25 - July 3rd, 2011, 10:41 pm
    Post #25 - July 3rd, 2011, 10:41 pm Post #25 - July 3rd, 2011, 10:41 pm
    Regarding July 30th...With your wife and yourself and your six friends and the other guests I already have scheduled that night I'm booked out so...I can't also take on the mystery guests... You will be excited about the craft. Can't wait to have you and your guests!!!!!!!
  • Post #26 - August 28th, 2011, 8:22 am
    Post #26 - August 28th, 2011, 8:22 am Post #26 - August 28th, 2011, 8:22 am
    We really enjoyed our meal at One Sister Underground last night. Maybe eloquent LTH-er GAF will chime in with better descriptions. Since incite's photos put mine to shame, I'll just add photos of the dishes that have changed. The suggested donation is now $100 (and worth every penny!).

    Quesadilla bubble tea:
    This was a really fun dish. I'm not sure I perceived this as a quesadilla, but the flavors of the lime and masa really came through, and the tiny cucumber scoops were a clever touch.

    Image

    Salad sponge with two types of honey, corn sprouts, nasturtium, goat milk and sunflower sorbets:
    I thought this dish was one of the highlights--interesting, great textures, a combination of flavors that worked surprisingly well. Busy, in a fun way.

    Image

    Duplicate picture of the tomato salad with a manchego edamame sheet, worchester gelee, another gel that I am forgetting. I'm posting another picture because this dish was one of my favorites--I could have eaten a few 'pages' of the manchego edamame sheet...

    Image

    Shrimp carpaccio with almonds, peaches, herbs

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    Encapsulated corn chowder with cured pork belly, baby artichoke, dehydrated pepper and corn. This was a delicious, fun dish that I really enjoyed despite the fact that I sent some of the contents of my capsule across the table by not disrupting it gently enough.

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    'Farm and garden': beets, pork, tiny mushrooms, fried corn silk with an incredible tamarind coconut sauce. I really dug the Thai flavors in this delicious, gorgeous dish. Another one of my faves (and I don't even like beets that much).
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    Shrimp scampi (with noodles made of shrimp). We tried to pretend this didn't taste that good so the guy with a shellfish allergy wouldn't feel bad (but it was great!).
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    Hand cut pasta with fontina (I believe), dried rasperries, rasberry puree and duck. This sort of reminded me of the huckleberry pasta at Schwa. Just delicious.
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    Veal cheeks with granola, cherries and hot mustard
    My dining companion tried to suggest that some of her portion of veal cheek got lost on the way from kitchen. Nice try...
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    Flavored custards with banana pepper, honeydew, white chocolate and a zucchini cookie:
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    Chocolate balls: one filled with bluberry, one with egg served with a gruyere capsule:
    Image

    We really had a blast at this dinner. It was all the more amazing because Ms. Regan produces these intricate dishes in her little condo kitchen. We're looking forward to the day she opens her own restaurant.
  • Post #27 - August 28th, 2011, 1:18 pm
    Post #27 - August 28th, 2011, 1:18 pm Post #27 - August 28th, 2011, 1:18 pm
    thaiobsessed wrote:Since incite's photos put mine to shame, I'll just add photos of the dishes that have changed.


    Nonsense! Great photos! I have another dinner at One Sister coming up, and am eagerly looking forward to the new dishes you've posted photos of.
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  • Post #28 - August 28th, 2011, 9:49 pm
    Post #28 - August 28th, 2011, 9:49 pm Post #28 - August 28th, 2011, 9:49 pm
    And that day - the day in which Ms. Regan opens her own restaurant - may be coming soon. She has scoped out a location and has some investors in mind. If you wish to eat at Chez One Sister, you need to do it soon. Thanks to ThaiObsessed, I won't have to post my photos, but I do echo the praise. My favorite dish was the salad sponge, and the prettiest was the corn silk. It will be a challenge for Ms. Regan to run her own restaurant, and the opening might (or might not) be bumpy, but she is certainly one of the most creative, visually-inspired chefs working.

    Chef Regan does all of the cooking and most of the plating, which is quite astonishing for seventeen courses, but one does see how she does it. The ingredients tend to be made in advance, and so the issue is cutting and pasting, rather than the kind of hustle and bustle of kitchen work that one might expect at restaurants. Her work is both modernist cuisine and dinner party cooking. While I cannot say that I found every dish equally compelling (there were some taste combinations that did not quite work), the dishes were beautiful and always thoughtfully considered and well-composed. For 17 courses for $100 (the suggested fee - I suppose you could offer Ms. Regan $.17 - but don't dare), at her suggested price this is the best culinary bargain in town. And since dining is communal, one gets to meet other culinary adventurers - and perhaps an LTHer or two.
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #29 - August 29th, 2011, 7:19 am
    Post #29 - August 29th, 2011, 7:19 am Post #29 - August 29th, 2011, 7:19 am
    thaiobsessed wrote:We really enjoyed our meal at One Sister Underground last night. Maybe eloquent LTH-er GAF will chime in with better descriptions. Since incite's photos put mine to shame, I'll just add photos of the dishes that have changed. The suggested donation is now $100 (and worth every penny!).

    We really had a blast at this dinner. It was all the more amazing because Ms. Regan produces these intricate dishes in her little condo kitchen. We're looking forward to the day she opens her own restaurant.



    That looks amazing, and I am especially jealous because I was originally supposed to go -- we had a last minute friend/birthday dinner come up. I kept getting "you should be here!" texts.

    Perhaps you met my no-inside-voice friend Garth -- he posted videos all night to his facebook. Are you part of the group meeting at Sun Wah for duck tonight? I might come in for that.
  • Post #30 - August 29th, 2011, 4:58 pm
    Post #30 - August 29th, 2011, 4:58 pm Post #30 - August 29th, 2011, 4:58 pm
    Your friend Garth was actually there on Friday along with a couple of others. A very unique and engaging fellow.

    Our menu was an exact match of what ThaiObsessed has posted here.

    I'm off for some duck now.

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