Back in May 2010, I had the pleasure of breaking bread with fellow bloggers at Swallow Tail
Supper Club. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, I don't blame you. Swallow Tail is not a restaurant, rather, it is a "secret" place where people meet to "donate" money towards a meal. Sounds like a restaurant in a different form right? Well, it is what we call an underground restaurant, much like No Fixed Address and The Birds Nest. To kick it up a notch, the folks at Swallow Tail have moved into the culinary tours and events business. And have they ever raised the bar. From the humble lil' house, the dinners have moved considerably more upscale. I was fortunate enough to be invited along with other bloggers to experience their Secret Supper Soiree. We were instructed to meet in front of the Pacific Central Station where we would be picked up by a double-decker bus.
We all hopped onto the pink bus and were whisked away to... of all places, the Vancouver Police Museum! Shuffling into the autopsy room, past the morgue, we were presented with a cocktail. After some mingling, we all congregated into the another room where we were served a Beet Salad consisting of blood orange granita, BB microns and pomegranate seeds. This was a refreshing, if not tiny start to our 5-course meal. Next up was the Tomato Consume with pickled cauliflower and Hijiki seaweed. It was served in a large beaker with a skewered pickled cauliflower. Although the concept seemed visually impressive, we had quite a bit of difficulty removing the cauliflower from the beaker. As for the consume, I felt it was overwhelmed by the pickling juices. I couldn't taste the base of the consume let alone the seaweed. There was definitely a novelty factor here with the venue, serving vessels and whatnot. Once finished, we loaded back onto the bus and took the short 3 block jaunt over to a totally new place called the Vancouver Urban Winery.
This was an unexpectedly nice venue. With a high ceiling and adorned with wine barrels as decor, the place was beautiful. There was several
long picnic-type tables set for us to enjoy our final 3 courses of the meal. For our appetizer, we were presented with a Poached Hen's Egg with forest mushrooms and a red wine reduction. The eggs were probably prepared in a thermal immersion circulator (if not, they were very skilled at using a regular pot!) and they were poached perfectly. Check out the beautiful free-range yolk! I love eggs and this was exactly how I like them. The mushrooms provided a good level of woodsiness and texture while the piece of baguette was cold and not that appealing texturally. Next up was the Pitt Meadows Flat Iron Steak with potato pave, root veggies and a huckleberry & rosemary jus. Due to the amount of guests and by virtue of cooking at a venue rather than a restaurant kitchen, the food was not as hot as I would've liked. Yet again, this was completely understandable. The medium to medium-rarish meat itself was tender and moist. It lacked the "seared" texture and flavour we normally would associate with a flat iron steak, but we need to take into account the venue. I loved the jus, it was super silky. I wished there was more of it. The shaved white carrot was
aesthetically-appealing and provided a nice crunch. As for the potato pave, it was good in both presentation and texture.
Lastly, for dessert, we had the Riesling Baba with Orange Blossom SemiFreddo, persimmon and pistachios. I like the semifreddo, it had a floral quality to it (as Kevin suggested) which was complimented by the pistachios. However, I found the baba to be too wet and overly sweet. Add in the sweet persimmon and this dessert was crying out for a touch of tartness as balance. In the end, I thought the secret supper soiree was a unique and interesting experience. Although I nit-picked at the food, it was pretty decent considering the challenges of multiple venues and whatever kitchen facilities that were at their disposal. The price for the soiree without wine pairings goes for $89.00 and $129.00 with wine. A group rate of 10+ with wine will set you back $99.00. In my opinion, I consider these prices to be reasonable if you take into account all the logistics (staffing, venue(s), food and wine). Of course, for someone who is only food-focused and are not interested in gimmicks and/or something out of the ordinary, they might not want to pony up the money. However, if you are the type who looks at the overall experience of an event and can appreciate the challenges of putting it all together, then it is worth a try for sure.
*Note: This was an invited dinner where all food was comped*
- Unique experience
- Okay pricing considering everything that is involved (if you look beyond just the food)
- Pricey (if you are food-focused only)
- Not the most elegant of seating arrangements (if you care about that)