Underground Dinner Clubs


I'm not sure if you've ever heard of or been to an Underground Dinner Club (UDC) but if you get the chance, don't miss it!  In case you don't know what a UDC is, it's a series of dinner events run by a chef or chefs which operate out of their own or a client's home.  A select group of friends or acquaintances are invited and get on the mailing list, which grows over time as the original clients are allowed to invite their friends and their friends and so on.  The chefs feature their personal recipes and style along with local produce, and since seating is very limited, you get the best of what they have to offer.

My wife and I were invited and went to one last night.  One of the best things about these events is they are BYOB, so you can bring whatever tasty beverage you'd like.  I knew we were having gourmet burgers, so I brought a bottle of 2008 Shining Hill red blend made by Col Solare, which is made up of about two-thirds Cabernet Sauvignon.  The weight and tannins would work well with the meat.  I heard the staff doesn't accept tips, so I brought an extra bottle for them to enjoy.

We arrived at the UDC party home and grabbed a seat at one of the three tables in the apartment's living room.  It was nice to talk with people we've never met and were really excited for the food that was about to come.  We started with a chopped salad made of spring peas, breakfast radish, farm eggs, pumpernickle croutons and buttermilk blue cheese.  It was very fresh and light, and the cheese was soft and creamy with a delicious saltiness.

When the burgers came, I was ready to devour!  The meat was made of sirloin, chuck and short rib, grilled and served on a Red Hen pretzel bun with spring onion remoulade, arugula, cherrywood bacon and Prairie Fruits Farm Angel Food Cheese.  The combination of the rich meat (that did melt in your mouth), the salty bacon, fresh ingredients and the melting creamy cheese was almost heavenly!  This is on my short list of best burgers ever.  There was even buttermilk beer-battered onion rings served with sriracha aioli for more artery busting action.  This was awesome and made better with my wine, which had bright acidity and tannins to fit with both the meat and fat content of the dish.  The dark fruit and length of the wine only helped matters more.

We were finished off with an oatmeal cookie and vanilla bean ice cream sandwich dessert which was just the right size to make sure I didn't need a stretcher to carry me out.  The experience couldn't have gone better and I can't wait 'til the next one.  Make sure to seek out an Underground Dinner in your area and let me know how you liked it!