The concept of Santiago Supper Club is simple: sign up online for an unknown menu to be shared with a bunch of strangers. Sound like a recipe for disaster? It actually reminds me of the puertas cerradas concept in Buenos Aires, with the exception that this is not a regular restaurant. And since I loved my puertas cerradas experience, I didn’t hesitate to jump onto the guest list for Santiago Supper Club.
Of course, I wasn’t about to do this alone, so I grabbed a friend. Our deposits paid, we received the Supper Club equivalent of a golden ticket: the address of this edition’s dinner. The house in Bellavista was a surprise, with an amazing open-plan kitchen that allowed diners to feel like part of the action without getting underfoot.
Things started off with bite-sized hors d’oeuvres: celery with Gorgonzola and walnut and bacon-wrapped prunes. I preferred the latter, since I like neither celery, nor Gorgonzola, nor walnut.
With our hors d’oeuvres we were served a complimentary glass of wine, but the rest of the meal was BYOB. This, people, is why you make sure to invite your sommelier friend to join you. I liked my Estampa wine, obviously, but her Tres Palacios was something I hadn’t heard of in a grape I don’t often drink (merlot). Our only problem was fending off other diners – we brought good stuff, and no, we are not sharing!
The various crostini were all yummy, as breads with spreads tend to be. Not only were the toppings nice, but the bread had been baked that day by the chefs. If they ever decide to start up a bakery, I hope they let me know, because it was truly outstanding.
These same bread bakers, Bolivian twin brothers, provided the only non-Italian-influenced dish of the night. I’m still not sure about the geographical combination, but I AM sure about their ceviche. I have had many ceviches in my day, and this was one of the best. I think the real lesson here is that these kids should start a restaurant.
Returning to Italy, we were presented with two different risottos and a pasta course. The risottos, wine and mushroom flavored, were good but slightly over-salted for my taste. This, of course, means they were probably perfect or even under-salted for everyone else since Chileans are salt fiends. The little spinach gnocchi-esque ball, however, though sadly not photogenic, was divine. Creamy, cheesy and perfectly cooked, I would have happily eaten the whole pan.
Our main dish was, for me, the one true let-down of the evening. While beautifully presented, the flavors didn’t really seem to mesh well. Each individual piece was good – although I would have much preferred my sweet potato puree warm rather than cold – but I didn’t see what tied it all together. It was a perfectly nice plate of food to be served in someone’s house, it just wasn’t up to the restaurant-level standards of everything else we were served.
This slight disappointment was quickly forgotten with dessert. Somehow we found room for our small slices of cake and kuchen, and then we found even more room for handmade truffles. Because it’s only journalistically responsible to try all the different flavors of truffle, right? And then eat a second of the one you like best?
Overall, Santiago Supper Club was a success. The organizers and chefs are aficionados rather than professionals, but they pull together an enjoyable, delicious event. And for $15.000 (US$30) for all that food, even the occasional moment of imperfection is hardly grounds for complaint. I’m looking forward to the next dinner!
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