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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Novice Foodie Goes Clandestine with the Clandestine Chef

Posted By on Tue, Nov 10, 2009 at 4:30 PM

click to enlarge KELLI BEST-OLIVER
  • Kelli Best-Oliver
I'd read about underground supper clubs before. The New York Times has written a few features on them, as have several of the food magazines. But I didn't have the in on any operating here in St Louis -- being a Novice Foodie and all -- and I was intrigued by the speakeasy-ish allure of the ultimate insider's dinner.

So when my friend Matt's wife unexpectedly couldn't attend an underground supper held this past Saturday, he offered his extra seat on Twitter, and I gladly threw my name in the hat. Lo and behold, I was the lucky one selected to attend the nose-to-tail "Supper of the Lamb" cooked by St Louis' Clandestine Chef as part of his Entre: Upstairs venture.

Entre: Upstairs is the more elaborate, upscale version of the Clandestine Chef's Entre: Underground meal series. I was particularly interested in this menu, as I never cook lamb at home, nor is it a protein I eat a lot. No reason -- I just never seem to gravitate toward it on a menu. I was excited to dig in.

I met Matt and his three friends outside the venue on a gorgeous Saturday evening. The savory aroma of our meal wafted out of the open window. We made our way past other patrons of the establishment, who I suspect were unaware that a dinner club would be taking place in the room next to their own cavorting. We were met by the sommelier of the night. I shook his hand and introduced myself by first name.

"Oh, Kelli Best-Oliver, welcome. Glad you could make it," he replied. Oh, honey. You know how to stroke this fake journalist's ego. This was a good sign.

The "Tater Tot" amuse - KELLI BEST-OLIVER
  • Kelli Best-Oliver
  • The "Tater Tot" amuse
We were seated at a large table with several other couples: a doctor and his wife, two lawyers, two local restaurateurs whose names I knew (one of whom I wanted to beg for a certain dessert from their now defunct restaurant, but I erred on the side of manners) and a few other rabid foodies. While we introduced ourselves to one another, I felt myself getting nervous. Awkward small talk with people who undoubtedly know more about food than I do -- and I wasn't drinking.

This could be epically awkward.

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