Posted: October 25th, 2008 - 5:36pm by Doug Powell
USA Today yesterday reported that the underground restaurant scene is growing. Jenn Garbee, who has just written Secret Suppers: Rogue Chefs & Underground Restaurants in Warehouses, Townhouses, Open Fields & Everywhere in Between (Sasquatch Books,$18.95) estimates there are at least 100 such places nationwide, with new ones opening all the time.
Q: In a nutshell, what are underground restaurants? Are they essentially dinner parties that strangers pay to attend?
A: They're something in between a dinner party and a supper club (in which members share the cost of dinners at rotating houses). The difference is the members aren't the same every time. There's a donation, but sometimes that doesn't cover anything but expenses. So it's sort of a paid dinner party — or like going to a restaurant where you don't know who's sitting next to you.
Q: Since they're generally skirting tax and licensing regulations, most operate under the radar. How did you find them?
A: Most are Internet-driven, so I just Googled "underground restaurants"and "secret supper clubs." You can ask chefs, food folks or at farmers markets, and check out food blogs. I wanted to include different types in the book in terms of size and location and the reason the chef is doing it.