Underground Supper Clubs Changing Dining Landscape

It's a collection of strangers, meeting in mystery locations and enjoying an elaborate menu cooked by some of the top chefs in the city.  Underground dining clubs are popping up all over Chicagoland and around the world.

Chef Iliana Regan, owner/chef/farmer of One Sister Inc., transforms her home into what looks and sounds like a fancy downtown restaurant, creating an underground culinary experience unlike any other. 

Chef Regan worked at some of the top restaurants in the city, including Table 52, Trio and Alinea and she hopes the experience will help prepare her for opening her own restaurant.

"I am my own prep cook, delivery person, and dish washer.  I take out the garbage and set the tables," Regan said.  "I'm my own linen person, do my own laundry for the linens, iron them, polish the glasses, polish the silverware, go and buy the candles and the plate-ware".

There are 10 spots at Regan's communal table.  Guests sign up by sending Regan an email.  She offers a 12-course dining experience and music to complement the cuisine. 

Regan uses local and sustainable ingredients in the unique dishes served at her tasting events. A recent menu included octopus with root beer, trumpet mushrooms and tamago, and a sweet egg omelet followed by a ramp puree held in a bud vase with a plate of small cut vegetables.

To snag a spot at Chef Regan’s next underground event, call 773-598-0602 or e-mail onesisterinc@gmail.com. A suggested donation is $90, plus gratuity. Information about other supper clubs offering a similar experience can be found on Clandestine Dining and X-Marx.  Prices can range from $50 to $150 for an elaborate menu that typically includes wine pairings. 

For foodies looking for a more laid back and inexpensive dining experience, the LTH Forum is hosting what they call the "world’s greatest potluck picnic ever" on September 12. That event is free and set to take place in Labagh Woods.

"We've had a stuffed ostrich egg,"   website co-founder Catherine Lambrecht said.  "We've had all sorts of wild mushrooms that people have collected and prepared. We have a lot of BBQ affectionados who bring their smokers." 

An invitation will be issued a month before the event and reservations are required. 

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