The meal was shrouded in mystery akin to a college secret society, were those groups to revolve around wild foods. It was my nontraditional take on celebrating Valentine’s Day as I got some of my dearest food loving-friends to join an underground dinner where the crux of the menu was freshly foraged fare.
I haven’t dined underground in years because my previous experiences lacked substance and seemed yet another expression of cooler-than-thou hipsterdom. But, this one showed promise from the minute we arrived and with its infinite tea candles, lofted wood ceilings, makeshift communal tables, and acoustic guitar music, it hit high on the charm factor. It was anything but pretentious but rather a hodgepodge of strangers hoping for a memorable food adventure, so we dug right in.
The menu was extensive though the portions bare — I think eating what you find is a quick way to lose weight as the meals turn out to be a bit, ahem, calorie restricted. Next time I go I plan to forage some bread and water beforehand to round things out. We had 7 tastes over the course of the night and they were as follows:
- wild foraged escargot
- wild radish greens soup with cowgirl creamery crème fraîche
- baccala fritters with oxalis flowers
- miso-marinated black cod with chickweed and pickled onions
- slow-roasted wild boar porchetta with chanterelle and black trumpet mushroom risotto
- miners lettuce mixed greens salad
- acorn spiced bread with candy cap mushroom ice cream
The event is definitely still a work-in-progress, but it’s a promising work-in-progress at that. Even so, I thought it steep for a dinner in a drafty loft. So, did we get duped? Well, I think anytime you eat out on Valentine’s Day you’re kinda asking to overpay. But then we also got to try freshly foraged food, share oddball BYOB’d wines (a Georgian sparkling included), converse with our German and Lebanese table companions, and eat snails, flowers, and mushroom ice cream by candlelight in some random guy’s house. So, in retrospect, it was the mix of adventure, curiosity, and quirkiness that I’d always hoped for in an underground dinner. Now, if only I could find the GPS coordinates to forage the candy cap mushroom ice cream as I’ll be needing that on a regular basis.