What’s it like to attend a super exclusive New York City Supper Club? If last night’s event is an indicator, it’s all about delicious food, interesting people and creative interaction.
When I received a day-of invitation from a friend to attend one of NYC’s most talked about secret clubs, even though I was in a different part of the city and in no way dressed for the occasion, I knew the only answer was, “Yes!”
For four years, Spring Street Social Society has crafted dinner party fantasies across the city, always in a new top-secret location. Theatre artists Amy Virginia Buchanan and Patrick Janelle created the group to showcase New York’s underground arts scene and rising culinary stars in a rotating selection of urban spaces.
After receiving confirmation, I dashed into Zara for an on-sale dinner party outfit, performed a costume change in a cab (so New York!), then made my way to the only address given – corner of 48th Street and 6th Ave (after a nostalgic dip into famed Spanish restaurant El Quijote, long located on ground level of Chelsea Hotel and closing next week after 88 years…but, that’s another story).
Arriving at the designated spot, my friend Lauren and I instantly spotted a woman standing on the corner with bold brushes of paint streaked across her checks and knew that was our welcoming cue. As the host led us down a platform and into the secret space, a cavernous black room with theatrical light illuminating a pop-up bar, we were invited to choose cocktails from a selection of tasty rum concoctions and guided to the evening’s first surprise of many to come. With a theme of Paint & Color, each guest was treated to custom face painting. The festive activity was an instant tone-setter and signaler of the immersive experience to follow.
Not about being a passive participant or merely a member of an audience, these experiences are geared toward interaction and mingling. Once appropriately painted up, the party of roughly 100 guests were then prompted to follow our hosts through the building and instructed to keep the noise down as another surprise was soon to reveal. The words “Concrete Jungle” illuminated in neon appeared as we descended stairs and music began with three dancers appearing in view. Their passionate mini-performance was met with applause, while Buchanan and Janelle playfully encouraged more recognition. Once again, everyone got in on the act with a rousing second round of cheering.
As the roaming party continued on, we discussed the evening’s chef – as with most changing aspects of Spring Street Social Society dinners, a different chef is featured for each event. Tonight, Chef Lucas Sin of acclaimed Chinese restaurant Junzi created an inventive and playful menu showcasing the theme of bold color and texture through new takes on Chinese flavors and dishes. In the dining space, another giant black canvas, a series of long tables came into view. A “painted salad” was pre-set as an edible spread running each table’s length. We were served spongy bread and encouraged to scoop up swaths of color directly from the table top. Like any good dinner party, wine flowed generously and was accompanied with lively conversation from servers who seemed more friends than waitstaff.
After the first course, guests were beckoned to another section of the room and another surprise revealed. As an event partner for the evening, Atelier Cologne created custom citrus blends and treated each guests to their own personalized bottle and case. We were also invited into an outrageously fun photo installation created by another event partner, Anthropologie. Finding your own perfume blend, then taking ridiculously fun photos was so exciting, we almost forgot there was more dinner to come.
We turned back to the tables to see a complete transformation and the second course beginning. A beautifully presented burnt parsnip vichyssoise and oyster risotto followed, leading to the big event, duck with flowers, cured cucumbers, lemon curd and shiso – dramatically presented with a large knife stabbed through the middle. Guests were expected to carve their own pieces, which resulted in much laughter and more photo opps.
After serving an earthy black sesame creme anglaise dessert, Chef Sin greeted guests and shared a bit about his background and passion for sharing Chinese food traditions and pushing culinary boundaries. Applause and laughter rang through the cavern as we ended the night with another round of silly photos in the prop-laden fantasy background.
Food and activities were delicious as was the feeling that we were witnessing a classic New York space soon to undergo transformation. But perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was the overarching festive, happy vibe. Zero pretension, all fun; guests, hosts and artists were each happy to be there, interested in getting to know fellow participants and sharing a unique experience. It was one of the most “Only-in-New York” nights I’ve had in a lifetime of extraordinary NYC experiences. Now, I’m ready to throw my own fantasy dinner party. Who’s in?
A big thanks to Lauren Doyle of The Booster Club for the invite behind the curtain of a secret New York City supper club (and for the additional pics!). And, of course, thanks to the team behind Spring Street Social Society for a truly unforgettable New York night.