We just discovered a new realm of foodie heaven, and I can’t believe we’ve been missing all the fun. Last Tuesday night, Jenna and I had our first underground supper club experience thanks to Jeremy Leven’s Tuesday Night Dinner Series. We had an amazing time. Like I said, where have we been the last few years?
What started as a gathering of friends in 2008, cooking together at a friend’s place with whatever was leftover from each other’s refrigerators and cabinets, morphed into a once-a-month supper club open to the public – a way for Leven and his team to share their love of cooking with local, fresh ingredients, while serving food to the community in a way that’s affordable. TND’s mission is to connect with people on a more intimate level over their love of food, drink and social interaction. Our kind of dinner party, for sure.
Today, TND moves each month to a different space to reflect different parts of the city, different communities and make new cultural connections. Our first TND took place in Hype Park in a historical mansion which houses the Southside Hub of Production (SHoP); an art collective that houses different exhibits and performances throughout the year (http://southsidehub.org/). This dinner, with the theme of “Comin’ Home”, was inspired by Leven’s own family recipes from childhood. TND’s menu featured four comfort food style plates. The opener was a green bean casserole made with hericot verde and yellow beans dressed with a demi-glace reduction of oyster mushrooms and sherry cream topped with crispy onions. The second course featured buttermilk soaked chicken wings accompanied by three house-made sauces: a cherry/coffee/chipotle/bbq sauce, a coconut oil-based vegan hot sauce, and a Filipino-style teriyaki sauce. For Jenna and I, the highlight of the menu was the pork shoulder meatloaf, cooked sous-vide style with rehydrated cherries and pistachios, paired with buttery, creamy, and piping hot mashed potatoes. If that wasn’t enough, the desert course captured our hearts in the evening’s final plate: a blueberry-basil pot pie. The blueberry compote inside was warm and gooey housed in a crispy pot-pie style crust and warmed just before service.
What would a supper club be without cocktails? Lori, of the TND team, kept the drinks flowing all night with her house-made peach sangria and whiskey sour recipes. In addition, Haymarket Brewery was kind enough to donate a keg of their summer IPA, a delicious pairing. Needless to say, we left with our stomachs full and our appetites satisfied as we mingled throughout the evening meeting genuinely amazing people – just what TND intended.
As we arrived for the event, we could not help but notice the for sale sign in front of the mansion that housed the supper club on this particular Tuesday. As we scoped out the various art installations throughout the space, Laura Shaffer, the creative director of SHoP, explained that this was supposed to be the last day of SHoP’s lease. Laura has worked hard to make this space a cultural community hub for artists and artistic expression for the Southside. She has made Hype Park and SHoP her home. Seems fitting that on the last night of their lease, the TND team would bring Laura, and each guest together in an intimate and comfortable setting; the way dinner at home should be.
Between TND’s homes-style cooking, the historic setting in which we dined, and Laura’s spirit for community and home, you couldn’t help but feel nostalgic and connected in a room full of strangers. Liz, coordinator of TND events, also explained that the food would be plated if front of everyone and each person was encouraged to pass along the plates to their neighbor as dinner began; a way of reiterating the community vibe. The only thing missing was your grandpa at the end of the table shouting for more and your uncle too sauced to get up from the recliner. We later found out that SHoP’s lease had been extended through October with the hopes that the next owner would maintain and support Laura’s vision. We think TND added a little magic and would find it hard to believe that a place this spirited could no longer exist after the energy we felt over dinner.
Wanna check out the next Tuesday Night Dinner? You should. They happen every last Tuesday of the month. The price: an undeniable $20 per person. Check the following links for details. Maybe we will see you there! In the meantime, to see more photos of the event or some of SHoP’s current installations, please see our slideshow below.