The term “underground” as it relates to food had come to sound ridiculous. These days it’s code for places where droves of in-the-know people in a certain age range and from certain segments of the population gather to wait hours in line for homemade, DIY, fermented, foraged, bartered, guerilla gardened, dumpster plucked, or street vended foodstuffs.
As long as the food was produced outside the industrial (or legal) food system and doesn’t fit under the umbrella of the widely-seen-as-elitist Slow Food movement, it qualifies. Each new event creates its own tsunami of publicity in an endlessly well-fed loop. Sometimes I feel like I could spend every waking moment trying to keep up with all this stuff. But the thought of trying, frankly, makes me very tired.
That said, who doesn’t love to be one of the first to discover a new hot food spot?
I have a friend who runs an honest-to-goodness underground restaurant. It’s exclusive all right. It only seats 6–maybe 8– and you have to actually know the person who runs it or be a guest of someone who knows the person who runs it. Not only have I attended the dinners but also, I’ve had the privilege of hanging out in the kitchen as an assistant doing dishes, wiping plates, and eating the food.
Here’s my behind-the-scenes look at one illicit dinner. The phone photos just add to the underground ambiance, don’t you think?
- Cucumber Lime Cocktails with Vodka
- Caramelized Onion Tart with Tomatoes, Olives, and Goat Cheese
- Kale Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons and Real Caesar Dressing
- Heritage Pork Chop Stuffed with Blue Cheese and Breadcrumbs with a Wine-Plum Sauce, served over orzo with home-grown chard and wild arugula
- Over-the-Moon Pies (soon to be found at an underground venue near you, hopefully)
- Trio of Stonefruit Sorbets (not pictured)
Did I mention that the menus at this restaurant incorporate neighborhood foraged, homegrown, and farmers’ market produce, the meat is always always always sourced from local, humane growers such as the fine folks at Prather Ranch or Marin Sun Farms, the eggs are pastured, and that everything (often even the cheese) is homemade? For example, the plum sauce for the chops was made from plums my friend spied on a tree in the backyard of a nearby vacant house.
Yup, we snuck in and harvested them ourselves.
Enjoy! But remember, it’s really underground. If I told you where it is, I’d have to kill you. However, if you want to book a dinner, and you actually know me, send an email.
Frosty, Delicious Cocktails
Flaky crust, bold flavors
Kale Caesar, so garlicky, so green!
Homemade marshmallows, homemade graham crackers, great chocolate, organic peanuts. mmmmm.