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What do you guys think of these "underground" dinner party/restaurants?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
globeandmail.com: An underground dinner party - with strangers

I've read about it before... not sure how I feel about it yet. At first, I went on an eager search to find something similar close-by (but not NYC). Unfortunately, I live in no-so-whats-happening-NJ and I'm stuck with a select few restaurants.
post #2 of 14
Thanks for posting the article. Never heard of it, but it's an interesting idea and it would be fun to try.
post #3 of 14
I've got an acquaintance from another discussion board who does that sort of thing (in NYC, sorry, RPMcM :p). The menus he serves always look really good and very ambitious -- the kind of stuff that would drive a home cook crazy with split-second timing and lots of steps. He just loves to cook, and this way gets to do some interesting stuff that he'd never do just for himself and his family. I don't know if he ever actually makes back his costs, but that's not the point for him. He'd never quit his day job to cook full time (he knows how tedious that is), so this fun for him.

All that aside, I don't think I'd ever go to one. A lot of the people who run them are like him and are not kitchen professionals (unlike the guy mentioned in the article) used to following standard sanitation procedures. They don't necessarily handle their food properly (safely, that is). I'm not saying that they are dangerous, but there is no regulation and anything might happen. Just makes me nervous. And besides, the price is not necessarily cheaper nor the execution better than -- or even as good as -- at a restaurant.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #4 of 14
It would be an interesting experience unless you were dining with someone as portrayed in recent Norwegian Cruise Line tv ads :D

I don't see it has having a big enough customer base with one party per month and only having 12 for dinner so it really shouldn't upset the restaurant owners since the hosts are pretty much skirting the health dept regulations which brings done overhead quite abit.

The one problem area I see for the host is liability. I'm not thinking of food issues, rather what happens if someone gets hurt or injures on the hosts property? As a non paying, invited guest I would expect my homeowners insurance to cover such a problem. However these people are registered as a business and the people coming to the dinner are paying a fee. Will the homeowners insurance cover an accident of injury??? I don't know but I think the insurance company would try to find everyway possible out of paying and they might succeed. If the insurance company gets off the hook, then the hosts are on the hook personally.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hey I'm close enough to NYC! Have an address/menu??!

haha.

As far as liability goes, I think that america needs to hold THEMSELVES more liable. I think that's part of the reason people do this, because they don't have to follow every single (some silly) regulations. That's actually OK with me...I mean, I'm not looking to go somewhere where the person leaves chicken out for days, but you know what I mean.
post #6 of 14
And how is that different than when you go to a friend's or relative's house for dinner? Or do you not eat at the homes of friends or relatives because "there is no regulation and anything might happen?"

shel
post #7 of 14
Several years back I read an article about a couple from Portland, OR. He collected unique kitchen equipment. His collection grew over the years to where he needed a storage for it. He eventually rented a warehouse loft for his stuff. He had enough stuff to set up a fully functioning kitchen. Eventually they got the idea to have people over once a month. Just like this article. I love the idea. It spawned out of a desire to enjoy quality food in a different environment.
post #8 of 14
I'd think if they were charging a fee for the meal that would make it a business and subject to retaurant and/or business regulations.
post #9 of 14
It's really really hard to do modern style food for more than six people without speedracks, a large freezer, and a walk in. I mean yeah, you can do one or two, but six courses would be quite difficult to do without compromise, not to mention the food safety issues.
post #10 of 14
I would personally agree that Americans need to accept more responsibility for themselves and their actions, but they don't and that is one of the reasons I gave up teaching scuba diving or even scuba diving without the teaching part of it.

The liability that I spoke of though was not food related problems. I'm thinking more in terms of personal injury from a slip or fall or whatever other mechanism by which a person could be hurt/injured. My opinion is that if I as a private property owner use due diligence in maintaining the property and invite you over for a dinner and you get injured while on my property, my homeowners insurance will most likely cover the expenses involved in your care, up to policy limits. I don't think that would be the case if the insurance company found out that I was registered as business and charged you a fee to be there, regardless of the invitation. Particularly if the insurance was based on private/personal ownership purposes as opposed to business/commercial ownsership purposes. This would leave the owners/host exposed to the full financial liability.

Overall I like the idea, cuz I'm sitting here thinking, if RPMc had one of these dinners at his house, it would be awesome to get an invite, based on the pictures you have posted and the descriptions you have given. From what I can tell, you are the Top Chef :chef: in the home kitchen. Without proper insurance etc I see the potential for exposure to considerable liability.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Reason I'm asking, is....I'd like to do "something" like this....by "something" meaning I don't want to charge, I just want to have "somewhat-strangers" over for dinner.....

actually, what I was thinking about was inviting maybe 4 other people (or two couples) over my place from cheftalk or something, and each person cooks, or brings a dish. I have an OK kitchen, roomy enough for a few people...

even do it kitchen/grill style....and dine al fresco.

check this out...this is an old co-worker of mine who gets together and holds these "mock" iron chefs....

Iron Chef Minnetonka - Egg | thingelstad.com

granted they are all good friends, but....well....my(our) friends...for the most part just wouldn't be into it...

we were also looking to join a dinner club/social kind of thing, but can't seem to find anything in NJ. (yeah NYC is close enough, but that bridge/tunnel sucks!)
post #12 of 14

Chicago undergrounds?

Does anyone know of any located in Chicago? Sounds very interresting.
post #13 of 14
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post #14 of 14
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