Editor’s note: Hidden Kitchen has closed, but you can find the people behind it at their new venture, Verjus Bar à Vin.
Supper clubs—also known as underground restaurants and speakeasies—have been popping up in cities all over the world. In Paris, there’s only one place to get the experience.
Braden and Laura are a couple of young Americans who met and fell in love, with both food and each other, while living in Seattle. After Braden finished college, they moved to Paris for what they thought would be a short stay. To continue cooking (something they did regularly but not professionally in Seattle), they decided to start a supper club. “We thought it would be a good way to make friends,” said Braden.
The requests came pouring in after Clotilde Dusoulier, an early guest, wrote about them on Chocolate & Zucchini. That was certainly where I learned about them. I booked a spot during their second week of suppers and was astonished to find myself rubbing elbows with foodie gods David Lebovitz and Dorie Greenspan. “This is gonna be fun,” I thought to myself while sipping my aperitif of Lillet Blanc and angling for a seat next to the superstars.
Fun it was, and also delicious, visually stunning and (I can admit it) drunken. Wine pairings are included for each of 10 courses, and in the early days they left the bottle on the table. That strategy was soon revised, due in no way to our behavior, I’m sure . . .
Word got around quickly, and Hidden Kitchen was soon being mentioned in blogs and mags on both sides of the ocean. What Braden and Laura had imagined as a casual fling was quickly becoming a real, if still secret, affair. Fueled by word-of-mouth praise and rave reviews (like this one from Girls’ Guide blogger Zeva Bellel), they’ve been able to host twice-weekly dinners for more than two years.
So why does everybody seem to love it? Well, who doesn’t like a good secret? Booking Hidden Kitchen is a titillating process—an online negotiation culminating with an address that’s revealed only days before the dinner. The journey to their door, whether one comes from the Louvre or through the Palais Royal, is another form of foreplay. Crossing the threshold into their apartment, with its immense and beautifully appointed dining room (molded high ceilings, marble fireplace, and so on . . .) is a privilege for visitors who don’t often get to see the inside of a real home.
And then it begins: coats off, drink in hand, conversation with 15 other food enthusiasts and course after course of surprising and lip-smackingly good food. The menu changes regularly, but here’s an idea of what to expect (taken from a recent dinner, on November 14):
Sunchoke soup with brown butter pear jam & sunchoke chips
Crispy broccoli with buckwheat groats and white cheddar
Sea bass with garlic lime nage and sausage-stuffed mussels
Veal meatball with house-made linguine, candied lemon, and truffle butter
Pork belly with walnut salsify puree and pickled chilies
Brussels sprouts salad
Manchego cheesecake with quince sorbet
The dishes are paired with wines specially selected by Juan Sanchez, owner of the left bank wine shop La Dernière Goutte. In addition, you’ll have an aperitif and amuse-bouche to begin, a mint julep–themed cleanser in the middle and homemade petits fours and coffee after dessert.
By the end of the night, you’ll have gained three pounds, killed a few hundred brain cells and hopefully made a few new friends. All this for 80 euros!
In a nutshell: Reserve well in advance for an inspired dinner, free-flowing wine and the chance to make new friends in a beautiful Parisian apartment. Hidden Kitchen is ideal for solo travelers and couples who want to take a break from quiet evenings. Highly recommended.