Monday, December 29, 2014

Dans L'Inde (Dinner Lab)

Supper clubs have been all the rage recently, offering intrepid diners something different from the usual restaurant dinner. I have heard all kinds of praise for Dinner Lab, read on for more! 
Dinner Lab is a members only dining experience that creates unique experiences for chefs and diners alike. Chefs are usually up and coming or undiscovered chefs with tons of experience and diners are people like you and me. The dinner includes a tasting menu accompanied with wine pairings/cocktails throughout the evening.

My friend Anoop became a Dinner Lab Member recently, and we finally picked a date that worked to check one out! The theme of the evening was Dans L'Inde, by Chef Palak Patel. I didn't know what to expect other than the food would be some kind of French/Indian fusion. A few days before the event, we were both emailed the menu and I was intrigued. The day before, we received the location of the dinner (somewhere in Williamsburg). Cool! 

I didn't know much about Chef Palak Patel's background prior to arriving, but she has some serious accolades! She competed and won on the Food Network series Chopped and also competed  against Bobby Flay and won! 

Upon entering the dining space, I saw rows of tables. Guests can sit at any of the communal tables (no assigned seating!), and it was fun to mingle with other dinner guests. At each seat, there is a sheet of paper and a pencil, and dining guests are asked to provide feedback on each of the dishes. Anoop told me this data is then compiled into a master database and utilized by restaurants. 

After a cocktail (half) hour, we were ushered to our seats. Our first course was a baby squash stuffed with quinoa and spiced chickpeas. It was very good, but one of the questions on the form inquired whether I would order this dish at a restaurant. I probably wouldn't as I would lean more towards a meat based starter. But it was very tasty! 

Our next course was a crab and cashew "crepe", which looked very similar to a dosa. The carrot and ginger puree tied this whole dish together. 

The next course was a coconut oil poached grouper, this was also well executed. 

The fourth course was a spicy, fragrant hearty lamb stew. We asked Chef Patel what spices she used in this dish, and she said she actually used a mix of ancho and pasilla chiles in addition to the usual suspects you would find in Indian cuisine.

The show stopper was the last course, a poached meringue served with a cardamom creme anglaise. The cardamom creme anglaise was unreal, and inspiring for future desserts in my home kitchen. The meringue paired perfectly with the sauce. Anoop raved that this was the best Indian dessert he has ever had! 

Overall: I thought the Dinner Lab experience was positive, and I had a good time. It was fun to mingle with other people at our table who were also into discovering new types of dining experiences and cuisines. The membership is $175 for the year in New York, and guests also pay for each dining experience, usually about $70-$80 (remember, alcohol is included!). I'm on the fence on whether I will join. I had a great time, but I'm evaluating whether I will use the membership when there are so many amazing restaurants still on my list to try!

Click here to join -

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