These days, underground supper clubs have gone the way of food fads like low-carb diets and gourmet cupcakes. They have not all faded from the spotlight, however. The very best still remain to delight diners with creative and fresh flavor combinations in intimate, communal settings.
Chef Craig Thornton continues to dominate the supper club scene with Wolvesmouth, an exclusive dining experience set in his Arts District loft which he calls the Wolvesden. Thornton’s cooking training began in a Portland wood-fire restaurant and later Bouchon in Las Vegas. At Wolvesmouth, he strips down techniques learned as a personal chef to his create his own unique style of simple, yet explosive, flavor combinations.
Thornton, who is every bit as much of an artist as he is a chef, creates small plates that combine fresh and unusual flavors with elegant beauty. Guests have savored tender lamb with borage blossoms and lime and olive oil parfait combined with strawberry and lime ice. Thornton announces the ingredients of each dish himself without pretension, quietly telling each section of the table rather than announcing from the front.
Quirky décor at the Wolvesden includes taxidermy, including a fox, deer, and bear. Diners slip donation-based payment into red and gold cardboard envelopes and deposit them into a craggy stuffed crocodile head in the center of the table. Most diners pay between $100 and $150 for the experience.
Another legendary supper club known as Kali Dining serves up exquisite meals in private residences throughout the city. Chef Kevin Meehan grew up in Long Island and headed straight to an east coast culinary school after high school. From there he traveled abroad, refining his craft in such kitchens as Mirabelle, L’Orangerie, Bastide, and Patina.
Diners sit around a communal table with up to 20 guests and watch Meehan prepare five courses of contemporary California cuisine. Tender beef tenderloin with burnt onion jam, smoked potatoes and charred leeks is just one of his signature dishes. Guests bring their own beverage with no corking charge, or purchase a suitable pairing from the chef.