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Secret Restaurants Are So Over

Secret Restaurants Are So Over
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  • Secret Restaurants Are So Over

    Post #1 - November 20th, 2006, 10:39 pm
    Post #1 - November 20th, 2006, 10:39 pm Post #1 - November 20th, 2006, 10:39 pm
    So we've all read stories on secret restaurants, the kind where somebody cooks in their home, charges for the meal, and doesn't get inspected by the health dept. etc. In the last couple of years they've been a occasional, but constant, feature of the food press.

    This always seemed like a New York/San Francisco/Seattle thing to me. Reason being, those are the cities where being hipper than the next person is most important to people-- and they're the cities where real estate is so insanely expensive that it actually half makes sense to run a restaurant without being able to tell anyone it exists. In Chicago, you'd just open your restaurant a little further toward the edge of condo-building and urban renewal. Not that, I'm sure, a few such places haven't existed in Chicago-- hey, my house still bears a few signs of its time (the 70s or 80s) as a dozen illegal apartments for cab drivers, these things will always pop up from time to time-- but it never seemed like the kind of thing that would become a subculture here. Chowhound had to have a policy about mentioning them; it's never come up for us.

    But every journalistic fad has its day, and so it was that last Friday, the Wall Street Journal declared the death of the secret restaurant:

    For years, these word-of-mouth eateries, many of them unlicensed, attracted diners looking to sample high-concept cuisine with an exclusive group of insiders... Now, to build their operations and start making a profit, proprietors are embracing a new commercialism themselves. They're creating flashy Web sites, printing promotional brochures and loosening admissions requirements. The campaign's success has led to a new twist: The underground restaurants are drawing crowds, but they're alienating the same foodies they once sought to attract.


    Yes, the riffraff have discovered them, on Craigslist and places like that:

    Amy Lee of San Francisco was expecting an intimate event when she and her husband showed up to a Ghetto Gourmet dinner, at someone's home, last month. She was surprised to find about 30 guests in the basement drinking martinis, as well as a camera crew filming the "secret" event for an interactive cable channel.


    Horrors! Plus it turns out that-- big surprise-- lack of professionalism is no guarantee of a professional experience:

    Maggie Dutton fondly recalls one secret dining club several years ago, where a line cook served up a "spot-on" risotto in his parents' home. Since then, the event manager in Seattle says, she has attended a handful of disorganized dinners that had too much pretense and mediocre dishes. At one, the host ran out of plates. This fall, she posted on her food-and-wine blog: "Kill the Underground Restaurant."


    As it happens, there is one Chicago secret restaurant mentioned in the sidebar-- but since it's a catering company, basically all that means is they invite their clients over for dinner. The sidebar is a bit of a cheat, since most of its "secret" places are just exclusive places, like the private club inside Disneyland or the Chinese high rollers' restaurant inside the Venetian (similar to one Stevez mentioned recently, though I can't find that post).

    So the secret restaurant is dead. I understand the appeal, though-- there is something to be treasured about one of a kind experiences no one else could have, that seemed to appear and vanish like Brigadoon. I heard about a restaurant in Paris that existed only for a month-- on purpose; they built it inside one of the department stores, and then it was gone. A place like that could never grow old, go downhill; if you were lucky enough to go you'll still be talking about it five years later, its memory burnished by the knowledge that no one could go there and prove you wrong. I like to believe there are people having fabulous dining experiences I don't know about-- but I'm only one fortuitous contact away from being invited to. Who has a secret to tell?
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  • Post #2 - November 20th, 2006, 11:16 pm
    Post #2 - November 20th, 2006, 11:16 pm Post #2 - November 20th, 2006, 11:16 pm
    HI,

    I have been inquiring about secret restaurants for some time now. I usually ask people who cater or those who are enrolled or recent graduates of cooking schools. I have not conjured up one secret restaurant.

    I do know of someone who did a restaurant-type experience in his home. His only compensation was your delight in his food and a check directed to a charity.

    That's about the closest I have come.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #3 - November 20th, 2006, 11:42 pm
    Post #3 - November 20th, 2006, 11:42 pm Post #3 - November 20th, 2006, 11:42 pm
    Mike G wrote: Chowhound had to have a policy about mentioning them; it's never come up for us.


    I remember being encouraged not to discuss such things on Chowhound, and yet...:

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/343260
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #4 - November 21st, 2006, 7:27 am
    Post #4 - November 21st, 2006, 7:27 am Post #4 - November 21st, 2006, 7:27 am
    The one that's mentioned there is another catering company (which also has a cafe) that does dinners at different locations for folks on their list.

    By that standard I have been to one:

    http://www.sptsb.com/new_page_3.htm
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  • Post #5 - November 21st, 2006, 11:22 am
    Post #5 - November 21st, 2006, 11:22 am Post #5 - November 21st, 2006, 11:22 am
    Wasn't Matsumoto ours? Did that really happen?
  • Post #6 - November 21st, 2006, 12:03 pm
    Post #6 - November 21st, 2006, 12:03 pm Post #6 - November 21st, 2006, 12:03 pm
    Ha! Yes, exactly.

    My favorite memory like that was of a fine dining restaurant called The Normandy, located in the small town of Mulvane, Kansas, of which you can know everything there is to know by simply pronouncing its name with a slow drawl-- "Muuuuulllllvaaaay-ennn."

    I forget why or how it came to be. But there we were, in utter hicksville, the town dead quiet since the sidewalks had been rolled up an hour before our 7 pm reservation, being served a prix fixe menu in an atmosphere exactly halfway between Le Cirque and The Ole Chuckwagon. Really, there were kind of "country" touches all around the room, and the proprietor was in short sleeves and jeans and as folksy as if he ran a family-style fried chicken place, and yet what he was bringing out was pate, salade nicoise, boeuf bourguignon. (Actually, oddly enough one of the courses was a mini Reuben. But then that was pretty alien to Mulvane too, I expect.) If I recall correctly we were the only folks there, indeed we seemed to be the only people in all of Mulvane, adding to the sense that we had stumbled on an old dark house and when we tried to find it again in the daylight, we would be told that it had burned down ten years earlier... on this very night. When we shook the dust of Mulvane from our clothes and got back to the big city, it was hard to believe any of it had happened, and I've never met anyone else who actually ate there. It was our secret.

    And by the way, it was fantastic. Shame you never got a chance to try it.
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  • Post #7 - November 21st, 2006, 12:41 pm
    Post #7 - November 21st, 2006, 12:41 pm Post #7 - November 21st, 2006, 12:41 pm
    Not fine dining, but something of a "secret" word-of-mouth dining opportunity is the Jim Haynes's atelier in Paris. The first 50 to 75 people who phone him on Friday night can come for dinner on Sunday. Dinner is good but not high-end -- we had salad, chili-mac, and peach cobbler -- but people go for the "scene." It has been going since the '70s, and an astonishing array of people have gone, including John Lennon and Indira Gandhi. The night I went, there were people from at least a dozen countries packed into the small, spartan atelier, including bankers, musicians, architects, historians, politicians, writers, artists, and bohemians. Converstaion was in French and English. Jim Haynes is a definite character, and a bit of a task master -- he doesn't allow people to pick a quiet corner, it's all about conversation, and he will grab people and make them sit with others and introduces everyone as they enter, and belows "talk" if people aren't talking. It's weird, fun, and for as long as it has gone on and as famous as some of those in attendance are, is still relatively unknown, even in Paris.

    For more info, should you be going to Paris and wish to attend one of the dinners, or should you just want to know more about the international, multi-faceted career of this literary and theater innovator, socialist, and Sorbonne professor of sexual politics, check out his web site. http://www.jim-haynes.com/
  • Post #8 - November 21st, 2006, 1:22 pm
    Post #8 - November 21st, 2006, 1:22 pm Post #8 - November 21st, 2006, 1:22 pm
    Mike, you and others here might really enjoy the Lick Creek General Store, south of Marion on the precipice of the glacial moraine in Southern Illinois. Five or six years ago, it truly was a secret restaurant, and the proprietor sized you up before permitting your party to indulge in one of the hours-long Cajun-Creole bacchanals held in the most perfect tumble-down general store you'll see. Its a bayou shack, on an Appalachian site, in Southern Illinois. More recently, the SIU student press, and some climbers drawn by the white cliffs, have written some about Lick Creek, it has opened its doors to the community through a crawfish fest, and the store even has a phone number listed. It's an almost surrealy cool place, and well worth checking out. The trick is getting a large enough party together with enough advance notice to make it worth the chef/owner's time (and his trip to St. Louis for groceries). I'd encourage anyone passing that way on I-57 to do three things -- visit 17th Street BBQ, visit Cairo, and visit Lick Creek, if only to see the store and the moraine.

    http://newshound.de.siu.edu/pulse05/dis ... endly=true
  • Post #9 - November 21st, 2006, 2:47 pm
    Post #9 - November 21st, 2006, 2:47 pm Post #9 - November 21st, 2006, 2:47 pm
    What about those secret French dinners that get posted about here once in a while? You know, the ones with Jean Blanchet playing sous chef.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #10 - November 21st, 2006, 4:22 pm
    Post #10 - November 21st, 2006, 4:22 pm Post #10 - November 21st, 2006, 4:22 pm
    stevez wrote:What about those secret French dinners that get posted about here once in a while? You know, the ones with Jean Blanchet playing sous chef.


    Yeah, those are pretty much just for people who know people who know people. After the holidays, I'll check with Patrick about the winter/spring dates, if he's still doing these.

    Also, if anyone is interested, Patrick is planning on guiding a tour to the best wineries and eateries of southern France in June, if he can get 20 people together.
  • Post #11 - November 24th, 2006, 4:13 pm
    Post #11 - November 24th, 2006, 4:13 pm Post #11 - November 24th, 2006, 4:13 pm
    I spoke with Cathy about the secret restaurant concept, in conjunction with promoting our catering services. We are working on opening a new space to serve as a commercial kitchen. We're not planning on having dining there, only client's who want to have tastings, but maybe we'll have monthly by-invitation-only dinners. It wouldn't exactly be secret or be "illegal" since the kichen will be certified, but would have an impromptu, renegade feel since it will be in a kitchen space not a designed dining room. Do you think there would be interest in this? Who would you invite first?
  • Post #12 - November 24th, 2006, 5:18 pm
    Post #12 - November 24th, 2006, 5:18 pm Post #12 - November 24th, 2006, 5:18 pm
    HI,

    In a funny way, I believe I experienced a secret restaurant situation when I was 8-years-old. My family and I went to Pennsylvania Dutch country to see the Amish. We stayed at an American Youth Hostel whose visitors were invited to an Mennonite farm for a dinner.

    We had three-bean salad, homemade apple butter, homemade bread, apple cider, pickles, creamed chicken with homemade noodles, fried chicken, their own processed hams, pies, cakes and goodness knows what else. We sat on backless benches hunched over the tables seating 20 or more people. Circa 1967, our family of 4 paid about $14.

    My Mom is still kicking herself for declining to buy hand made quilts for $40.

    It is still one of my most memorable meals.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #13 - December 12th, 2006, 4:04 pm
    Post #13 - December 12th, 2006, 4:04 pm Post #13 - December 12th, 2006, 4:04 pm
    i'm not sure if this is a good thing, a bad thing, or a no-thing....but the ghetto gourmet is coming to wicker park (if they can find a space, i guess)

    http://ggchi122206.eventbrite.com/

    too bad i'll be out of town visiting the family.
  • Post #14 - December 30th, 2006, 10:36 am
    Post #14 - December 30th, 2006, 10:36 am Post #14 - December 30th, 2006, 10:36 am
    Underground -- a bar without signage, visible address or published phone number -- is a pretend clandestine tavern. It has the trappings of a covert operation, but the gimmicky “secrecy” is clearly designed to generate biz from those who want to simulate being "in the know." Odd. According to Time Out Chicago, this nouveau speakeasy has apparently taken over the old Harry's Velvet Room space at 56 W. Illinois.

    A variant on this theme is Wellfleet, not a secret but an occasional restaurant that is currently being discussed here: http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=10704. Wellfleet, of course, is not pretending to be something it is not. Their site states, "There’s been a trend in fine dining in Berlin and Paris that I have been following for some time - small gatherings that clandestinely take place in apartments and lofts where (because of licensing and zoning restrictions) it is often illegal. These gatherings are sometimes referred to as a‘cuisine speakeasy.’ I like to think of it as an ‘occasional restaurant.’ This concept is my inspiration for Wellfleet.” (http://www.fishguy.com/wellfleet.htm)
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #15 - December 30th, 2006, 10:55 am
    Post #15 - December 30th, 2006, 10:55 am Post #15 - December 30th, 2006, 10:55 am
    And then, of course, there's GNR Winner Burt's Place. While not a secret restaurant by any means, they do have a non-listed phone number available only to those "in the know" (or in possession of one of thier take out menus).
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #16 - December 30th, 2006, 6:43 pm
    Post #16 - December 30th, 2006, 6:43 pm Post #16 - December 30th, 2006, 6:43 pm
    I submit a subcategory to the Secret Restaurant: the Ghost Restaurant.

    There is a very old restaurant closed by the health department. Yet every morning the owner comes in to switch on the grill. Regulars still come in to drink coffee, never eating a thing, then leave with a few dollars tucked under the saucer.

    It is officially no longer in business, nobody eats there, yet it is open to the regulars to drink their coffee.

    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 #17 - January 28th, 2007, 11:07 am
    Post #17 - January 28th, 2007, 11:07 am Post #17 - January 28th, 2007, 11:07 am
    Hi guys

    New poster here, I have been doing a bit of research on the whole 'secret restaurant' fad..and found this thread.. I thought i would share my experience from a place here in melbourne (australia)..

    there is a real movement amongst one crew of foodies that is really making a stir.. There is this new place called zingara cucina.. all they have is a website, no phone number etc.. and they change their location each week..

    sounded like a bit of a logistical nightmare to me.. but none the less i tried it out, and I have to say.. it was superb.. I tried to get a rebooking and apparently they are fully booked until january next year.. so obviously the whole 'secret' thing isnt so secret anymore..

    Admittedly.. they only allow 10-12 people at each sitting.. so it would be easy to book out.. plus you have to know someone who has been before, to get a booking.. I work in the media, and was given a recommendation from a colleague knew one of the guys who operates it.. so I got in, but they are damn strict.. and i wasnt allowed to know his name!!

    to add to the whole illusion, everybody that serves you are wearing masks.. even the chef when he came out at the end.. had a mask on.. kind of venetian style.. they dont want to be named, and ask that you just focus on the food.. the surroundings & the service..

    if anyone knows of any more restaurants like this in australia.. i would be interested to know.. as it was something well worth while. (my date was hell impressed hehe!)..check 'em out www.zingaracucina.com ..

    only real let down I think.. was the wine list.. it was a bit pricy for my budget, they should have had more variety
  • Post #18 - January 28th, 2007, 11:23 am
    Post #18 - January 28th, 2007, 11:23 am Post #18 - January 28th, 2007, 11:23 am
    hello everyone!!

    new poster here.. found this site searching for secret restaurants here in Melbourne

    rather than repost what I wrote.. feel free to check out my smallish review on zingara cucina, it is an underground restaurant here in australia, where the operators are doing their best to remain nameless.. the experience changes each week, and the food is amazing.. 8-12 course italian degastation..

    9 out of 10.. they would have got 10 out of 10 if their winelist wasn't so limited.. www.zingaracucina.com is their website
  • Post #19 - March 30th, 2007, 1:27 pm
    Post #19 - March 30th, 2007, 1:27 pm Post #19 - March 30th, 2007, 1:27 pm
    hanse_coloursmay wrote:i'm not sure if this is a good thing, a bad thing, or a no-thing....but the ghetto gourmet is coming to wicker park (if they can find a space, i guess)


    They just came back again, and Gapers Block has a very positive writeup.

    I'm a little surprised we didn't hear more about it here...
    Joe G.

    "Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
  • Post #20 - April 19th, 2007, 10:48 am
    Post #20 - April 19th, 2007, 10:48 am Post #20 - April 19th, 2007, 10:48 am
    gg is coming back again:
    http://ggchi427.eventbrite.com/
    4/27 - 4/28.

    i THINK:
    chef on the 27 is Efrain Cuevas
    chef on the 28th is Johanna Mahmud
    both apparently Chicago natives.
  • Post #21 - April 19th, 2007, 2:12 pm
    Post #21 - April 19th, 2007, 2:12 pm Post #21 - April 19th, 2007, 2:12 pm
    David Hammond wrote:Underground -- a bar without signage, visible address or published phone number -- is a pretend clandestine tavern. It has the trappings of a covert operation, but the gimmicky “secrecy” is clearly designed to generate biz from those who want to simulate being "in the know." Odd. According to Time Out Chicago, this nouveau speakeasy has apparently taken over the old Harry's Velvet Room space at 56 W. Illinois.



    These days, it's not so underground or clandestine, nor really serving the "in the know" demographic based on my visit there last month, and the abhorrent number of bachelorette parties in attendance.

    What do you call a reverse sausage fest?
  • Post #22 - April 19th, 2007, 3:49 pm
    Post #22 - April 19th, 2007, 3:49 pm Post #22 - April 19th, 2007, 3:49 pm
    gmonkey wrote:
    What do you call a reverse sausage fest?


    I'm not sure if the Posting Guidelines will allow me to post my answer. so all I have to say is 8)

    Flip
    "Beer is proof God loves us, and wants us to be Happy"
    -Ben Franklin-
  • Post #23 - April 19th, 2007, 4:28 pm
    Post #23 - April 19th, 2007, 4:28 pm Post #23 - April 19th, 2007, 4:28 pm
    gmonkey wrote:What do you call a reverse sausage fest?


    Heaven.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #24 - June 7th, 2010, 8:46 am
    Post #24 - June 7th, 2010, 8:46 am Post #24 - June 7th, 2010, 8:46 am
    This seems as good a thread as any in which to mention the latest smackdown on the underground dining thing, by Steve Dolinsky. He attended a Rabbit Hole dinner and was unimpressed:

    Our third course, a homemade pappardelle with fresh ricotta was just plain boring. It needed lemon juice to brighten it up, as well as salt and pepper; there was allegedly some marrow in the sauce, but we couldn’t detect any; the pasta – while clearly hand-formed – was gummy and not exceptionally pleasing.


    Read it all, but that pretty much sets the tone.

    What floored me about this was the price, which [CORRECTED, see below] came to $200 for two. As Dolinsky rightly observes, "after you drop $170 plus $30 tip... you then realize that for $200 you could have had a killer meal at one of any number of great places – Naha, Topolo, Avec, Blackbird, North Pond, etc."

    Price, of course, isn't the only consideration here. But to me it's a pretty good indicator that the underground restaurant movement isn't underground in any way that really matters. In theater, say, something like this might be young people starting out, putting on work that's too daring or experimental to make it with a downtown audience, performing in a dilapidated space in an edgy neighborhood, and charging low prices because it's not about money and charging low prices gives you a certain freedom that higher prices would constrict.

    But these underground dinners are like somebody finding the dilapidated space in the edgy neighborhood-- and then charging $85 per seat for an illegal performance of The Lion King. They use an underground atmosphere to cover the fact that they're trying to serve a Blackbird-level meal at a Blackbird-level price without the costly support system of Blackbird. If you could pull it off, it would probably be pretty lucrative. But they often seem not to pull it off, and so you wind up with a sub-Blackbird experience at the full Blackbird price, The Lion King in cheap Halloween costumes.

    To me, the underground dining experience can only be justified one of two ways. One, is at a price that absorbs some of the diner's risk. At $50, I'm game for adventure, at $100, it almost seems an insult to a city full of fine, hardworking restaurants to spend my money instead on some amateur who gets to evade many of their fixed costs, yet presumes herself in their company. Some of the caterers who've gone on to open restaurants have done this, such as Bonsoiree, at such modest prices, and it's a reasonable path for getting feedback, practice, etc. in anticipation of opening a place or simply being a better caterer. That's cool.

    Two, is by being underground in some manner more meaningful than simply not paying the city a license fee. People put on Beckett or Dario Fo or, in their early days, Mamet or Letts in some ratty storefront, because it represented an alternative to big commercial theater. But what's underground dining being alternative to— rigid bourgeois notions of how rickety your table should be? The dinner I attended was all full of talk about stuff coming straight from the farmer (who was present) to the table. Great, I'm all for it and more of it, but every week I eat at some place that's touting its Gunthorp chickens and its Dietzler beef and so on. Not exactly new ground or a challenge to The Man that's going to flip our dining paradigms. Likewise the kid who was going to introduce people to molecular gastronomy— in the city of Alinea. Our restaurants are already Steppenwolf, you're not going to wow us by putting on yet another production of American Buffalo.

    I could imagine underground dining experiences that would really wow me, but they wouldn't just be second-tier versions of dinners I can already have. They might be something you can't get here commercially, like a deeply authentic Southern meal or a Portuguese one or an exotically authentic Asian one, that challenged you to eat things you'd never touch normally. Or they might be more like performance pieces that make us experience food in a manner as much theatrical as culinary, eating and interacting with food in entirely new, provocative ways. I'd love to believe that there's a space outside the commercial realm for different ways of dining and experiencing food, but I'm largely unsold on the idea that there's a need outside the commercial realm for a second commercial realm that gets to do the exact same thing but avoid a lot of the entirely reasonable hassles involved, like health inspection and insurance. At the very least, I expect it to try harder than that to justify its positioning as something truly alternative— and that an alternative is needed at this historical moment.
    Last edited by Mike G on June 7th, 2010, 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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  • Post #25 - June 7th, 2010, 8:56 am
    Post #25 - June 7th, 2010, 8:56 am Post #25 - June 7th, 2010, 8:56 am
    Mike G wrote:What floored me about this was the price: $170 per person. As Dolinsky rightly observes, "after you drop $170 plus $30 tip... you then realize that for $200 you could have had a killer meal at one of any number of great places – Naha, Topolo, Avec, Blackbird, North Pond, etc."


    It was $85 per person. $170 for him and his wife. He mentions the $85 price earlier in the piece and then mentions the total cost for them later. A confusing piece of writing.

    Still, I agree. When I'm paying up for a meal, I want a meal that works and that usually requires a chef with an established staff in a kitchen that they know. I've never heard a review of an "underground dinner" that has made me want to seek it out. It seems to me that the real stock-in-trade of these meals is the excitement of uncertainty rather than high quality cuisine, which is cool enough for some but boring for me.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #26 - June 7th, 2010, 8:58 am
    Post #26 - June 7th, 2010, 8:58 am Post #26 - June 7th, 2010, 8:58 am
    Mike G wrote:But these underground dinners are like somebody finding the dilapidated space in the edgy neighborhood-- and then charging $110 per seat


    If you get a seat which, as Dolinsky mentions, is not always a given.

    MikeG, the "underground" artisanal hog dinner you and I went to last year was, I thought, just fine. Not stellar, hardly even memorable, but just fine (and, I think, around $65, so not a huge financial risk). One of the enjoyments of these dinners is that eating in these marginal places is sometimes a little more unusual and fun than eating in a regular restaurant. It’s kind of like the food truck phenom – even if the food is pretty much that same as you’d get in a regular brick and mortar restaurant, the ambiance of the new eating environment is kind of entertaining.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #27 - June 7th, 2010, 9:06 am
    Post #27 - June 7th, 2010, 9:06 am Post #27 - June 7th, 2010, 9:06 am
    Thanks for the correction, I've adjusted the original post to correctly represent the cost.

    I guess I don't find eating in a stranger's apartment to be THAT exotic and entrancing; I can see how, on occasion, the social side creates something magical (though it didn't happen at the one you and I went to, David, quite the opposite). Still, that hardly seems to be pushing the envelope all that far. Suffice it to say I've had both better social experiences with strangers, and better food, at many LTH events for a lot less. 8)
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  • Post #28 - June 7th, 2010, 10:40 am
    Post #28 - June 7th, 2010, 10:40 am Post #28 - June 7th, 2010, 10:40 am
    HI,

    I received an e-mail from someone who is effectively running a secret restaurant. It is a monthly dinner party for a small group of people with the net proceeds going to a charity.

    It is so secret, there are issues trying to find people to fill those seats. Those who received the e-mail were asked to spread the word. This event is several hundred miles from here, which puts it just out of reach.

    I thought it was amusing the secret restaurant is so secret that few know and it's now a challenge to find guests.

    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 #29 - June 7th, 2010, 3:43 pm
    Post #29 - June 7th, 2010, 3:43 pm Post #29 - June 7th, 2010, 3:43 pm
    Mike G wrote:In theater, say, something like this might be young people starting out, putting on work that's too daring or experimental to make it with a downtown audience, performing in a dilapidated space in an edgy neighborhood, and charging low prices because it's not about money and charging low prices gives you a certain freedom that higher prices would constrict.


    I understand what you're getting at, but I'm not sure that this is a good analogy in Chicago, where there are more than 200 theater companies, most of which are performing in dilapidated off-Loop spaces at low prices -- but which nevertheless go through all the bells and whistles required to get a Performing Arts Venue license, occupancy permit and fulfill other city requirements.
  • Post #30 - June 7th, 2010, 4:19 pm
    Post #30 - June 7th, 2010, 4:19 pm Post #30 - June 7th, 2010, 4:19 pm
    True enough, though that's not really the main point of the analogy. I'd like to see Underground Dining stand for something, do something you can't get anywhere else-- as off-Loop theater did and even still, to some extent, does. Where's the Oobleck of Chicago dining? Who's the Del Close of Chicago dining? Where are they going to hold that 12-hour Robert Wilson spectacle dinner? (Okay, so Moto could be the answer to all of those questions.) I'll forgive a lot of other issues if you'll blow my mind, but not if you just make me a fairly nice, but not that great, dinner.
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