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World's Best Secret Dining Clubs

<center>World's Best Secret Dining Clubs</center>

Dana McMahan

Hidden Kitchen
Paris

The Scene: Seattle transplants Braden (a chef) and Laura (a baker) worried about making friends after their move to Paris last year. Their ingenious answer: throw dinner parties, and lots of them. After just 18 months, their dining atelier, which is also their apartment, has seen hundreds of diners, resulting in exponential expansion of their social circle—and buzz. The two use French ingredients and techniques to reinterpret great American dishes, scouring their local market, Marché d’Aligre, exotic spice stores, and Jean Bernard wines for inspiration and advice. Dinners, which start with an aperitif and end with petit fours presented in a silver jewel box, are as artful as they are delicious.

Hot Plates: Root vegetable pot pie with white truffle béchamel; kale-wrapped heirloom pork; butternut squash bread pudding.

The Lowdown: $87 for 7- to 10-course meal with wine pairings; Sundays and Friday or Saturday each week, except in July, August, and January; 12 guests.

From article: World's Best Secret Dining Clubs

<center>World's Best Secret Dining Clubs</center>

Josh Copeland

Clandestino Suppers
Chicago

The Scene: Supper club veteran and chef Efrain Cuevas (he did time with Ghetto Gourmet in Oakland) launched a new culinary club earlier this year; bimonthly Chicago-style locavore dinners are held in lofts and gardens within easy striking distance from the Loop. His favorite events, however, have a twist: collaborative meals with artists in their gallery or studio, like this fall’s Caribbean comfort food feast inspired by Puerto Rican painter Edra Soto.

Hot Plates: Deviled eggs with smoked mayonnaise; roast quail with carrot and plantain sofrito and yucca and turnip gratin; black walnut and apple tart with sweet potato ice cream.

The Lowdown: $50–$85; twice a month; 25–35 guests.

From article: World's Best Secret Dining Clubs

<center>World's Best Secret Dining Clubs</center>

Courtesy of Home Food Cesarinas

Home Food Italy
Bologna, plus 20 more cities and regions across Italy

The Scene: Home-cooked meals in Italy are a holy grail for any food-obsessed traveler, and thanks to Egeria Di Nallo, a sociology professor from Bologna, that elusive culinary quest is within reach. Since 2004, she’s anointed and galvanized an army of 100-plus cesarine, or “empresses of the kitchen,” to educate and cook for strangers in their homes—as well as at museums, castles, and delightfully decrepit farms—from Veneto to Sicily. The hands-on cultural organization prides itself on preserving traditions, so it’s not unusual for guests in, say, Piedmont to get a history lesson about the region’s white truffles, while their hostess perfumes the air with gossamer shavings.

Hot Plates: Nettle tagliatelle with ragu; roasted veal; flanlike “latte imperiale.” The Lowdown: $60 average, $5 membership fee; frequency varies depending on the cesarine; 6–8 guests.

From article: World's Best Secret Dining Clubs

<center>World's Best Secret Dining Clubs</center>

Courtesy of Plate & Pitchfork

Plate & Pitchfork
Portland, OR

The Scene: During peak summer months since 2003, founders Erika Polmar and Emily Berreth have held a series of dinners at working farms within striking distance of Portland. Chefs, many of whom hail from Portland’s top restaurants, set up makeshift kitchens amid the crops. After a tour and tasting with a local Willamette Valley winemaker (think spicy Pinot Noirs from Argyle), guests sit down to long banquet tables adorned with meadow flowers for a parade of family-style dishes made from the freshest ingredients, like zesty salads featuring just-picked tomatoes from surrounding vines.

Hot Plates: Peach-tarragon soup; grilled lamb with a tomato-cinnamon sauce; warm Gravenstein apple crisp with crème fraîche.

The Lowdown: $90–$150; three dinners per week, July and August only; 100 guests.

From article: World's Best Secret Dining Clubs

<center>World's Best Secret Dining Clubs</center>

Courtesy of Homeslice

Homeslice West
New York City

The Scene: One of the early dining clubs on the NYC scene, this five-year-old self-proclaimed “culinary speakeasy” is still smoking—thanks in large part to its warm and talented hosts: southerners Becky (from Florida) and Hayden (from North Carolina). The duo churn out unabashedly rich dishes from Kentucky to Louisiana for diverse crowds that are anything but calorie-phobic. One of their roving underground dinners was even held in a five-story Chinatown walk-up, with no buzzer. Considering their crowd-pleasers, like mac and cheese, a few extra steps are probably a good thing.

Hot Plates: Buttermilk biscuits; Carolina crab cakes with sweet corn orzo; chocolate bourbon cake with honey pecan sauce.

The Lowdown: $40–$50; once a month; 20–30 guests.

From article: World's Best Secret Dining Clubs

<center>World's Best Secret Dining Clubs</center>

Courtesy of Aronia de Takazawa

Aronia de Takazawa
Tokyo

The Scene: In Tokyo’s Akasaka district behind an unmarked door, whose only “sign” is engraved on the door handle, is one of the world’s smallest fine restaurants—with only two tables. From his post in his open pop-up-size stainless-steel kitchen, master chef-owner Yoshiaki Takazawa, with the help of his wife, Akiko, choreographs near-private sensorial feasts that are part Japanese tea ceremony, part edible art experiment. Unrelenting tenacity and patience are required in pursuit of a reservation. If you don’t succeed, try again—and then be prepared to wait six months for dinner.

Hot Plates: Foie gras crème brûlée with mango; smoked Ezo venison; curry ice cream.

The Lowdown: $220 for 10-course meal; serves approximately 20 dinners a month; 2–6 guests per sitting.

From article: World's Best Secret Dining Clubs

<center>World's Best Secret Dining Clubs</center>

Lucy Schaeffer

Cook Here and Now
San Francisco

The Scene: This two-year-old culinary experiment in communal dining brings hungry like-minded diners together, leaving a feel-good glow in each dinner’s wake. Founder and Rome native Marco Flavio Marinucci announces upcoming meals (and their sustainable themes) on his blog, inviting friends and strangers to cook using local ingredients, eat, and clean up together. “The most important part of the experience is the interaction we have with others, not the food,” says Flavio.

Hot Plates: Wood-fired pizza with Anjou pears, Gorgonzola, and thyme; sushi made with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch List in mind; dishes featuring ultraseasonal farmers’ market finds, like kabocha squash.

The Lowdown: Free; once a month; up to 45 guests.

From article: World's Best Secret Dining Clubs

<center>World's Best Secret Dining Clubs</center>

Courtesy of Casa Felix

Casa Felix
Buenos Aires

The Scene: In steak-mad B.A., a fish- and veggie-focused supper club is a welcome dining option—even better that it’s in the cozy Chacarita neighborhood home of a 33-year-old vegan-leaning chef, Diego Felix, who enchants visitors with indigenous South American ingredients. He and his American girlfriend, Sanra, cook together, sometimes even inviting guests to pitch in. This is a convivial spot to sample new flavors—traditional dishes, Argentine wines, and especially local herbs, like minty peperina, which Felix grows in his own garden.

Hot Plates: Halibut ceviche, traditional Paraguayan corn cakes; avocado and lime pie.

The Lowdown: $35 for five-course meal; weekend nights; 12 guests.

From article: World's Best Secret Dining Clubs

<center>World's Best Secret Dining Clubs</center>

theDiningRoom

theDiningRoom
Vienna

The Scene: Opened in 2007 in a residential Vienna neighborhood near Schönbrunn Castle, this hidden private home restaurant is a dream realized for self-trained chef Angelika Apfelthaler. As with so many dining clubs, her kitchen is open, and conversation over steaming pots is encouraged. While Austrian flavors make guest appearances, Apfelthaler’s menus, which gallivant from Tuscany to Morocco, are mostly Mediterranean. Guests are bound to feel like one of the family in this warm Austrian home—especially when Gino, the resident golden retriever, steals your dinner roll.

Hot Plates: Goat cheese tart with caramelized figs and lavender salt; sea bass filet en papillote with saffron-sherry glace; almond-rosewater pie.

The Lowdown: $60 for five courses; call or e-mail for schedule; 12 guests.

From article: World's Best Secret Dining Clubs

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