Swallow Tail Secret Supper Soiree
Psst. The Swallow Tail Secret Supper Soiree is back. Five Courses. Four Wine Tastings. Two Secret Locations. That’s what it all comes down to, but it delivers beyond that. It’s one of the many Dine Out Vancouver food events happening this year and one that I was pretty excited to attend. I’m more enthusiastic about the Dine Out events rather than the Dine Out Menus for the reasons I wrote about here. Anyways on this occasion I was invited to attend the Swallow Tail Secret Supper Soiree which is a “pop up restaurant event”. I had no idea what to expect and I can only share so much of my experience without ruining the element of surprise, which is all part of the “Secret Supper” experience.
I’ve actually attended one of the Swallow Tail Secret Suppers in the past. It’s one of the few underground restaurants in Vancouver and this event was cleverly created and hosted by the same organizers. It wasn’t as intimate as their underground dinners, especially since this was intended for a much larger group, but it caters well to those who appreciate event style dining.
It all started at the meeting location where all guests were conveniently picked up and chauffeured to the two secret locations. The theme of the event is 1930′s so they encourage everyone to dress in 1930′s attire. They say “fancier the better”, but being that this is Vancouver, that translated to a clean pair of jeans. Personally I love dressing up so I was excited to play, but the event is rather casual so I wouldn’t sweat it, but I also wouldn’t wear sweats… although I never really wear sweats.
The first location totally caught me by surprise! As much as I want to tell you, I can’t, but I will give you a clue. We entered a room which featured this chalkboard and I actually thought this was the dinner menu. I guess that’s the “foodie” in me, but I honestly got a bit excited since I’ve never tried spleen or thymus before. I’m not sure how many of you think I’m joking, but I’m actually being serious. Anyways, the chalkboard ended up just being part of the unexpected venue.
The event kicked off with a cocktail (Pimm’s Cup a la Boardwalk Empire) and the first two courses which I considered more of an amuse bouche than actual courses. It was all enjoyed in the context of a standing room which I preferred since it allowed more opportunity for socializing.
The second secret location was my personal highlight for the whole Swallow Tail Secret Supper Soiree experience. Yes, it even beat out the food. I loved the venue. Being a born and raised Vancouverite who’s rather familiar with the food scene, I was rather shocked that I never knew about this place. Of course there’s always secret locations to discover, but this one really impressed me. Again, I can’t tell you where we went exactly, but I will tell you that those barrels were meant for wine and not for monkeys.
The dinner took a while to start and it can be assumed that it would be a bit “banquet style dining”. That being said, the meal was elegantly prepared and presented with colours in mind by Chef Andrea Carlson (formerly of Bishops, an award winning fine dining restaurant). The quality of ingredients were high and the menu was sophisticated, but at times it suffered slightly from being cold or room temperature. On that note, it was also food that could be still enjoyed at room temperature.
Put an egg on anything and I’ll be happy. It was a substantial salad with the added egg and the toasted baguette was a lovely mop for the bright orange runny egg yolk – another perfect addition to my Egg Yolk Series. The bread could have been more toasted and it was already a bit soft, but given the context, these hiccups were somewhat expected. The fourth course was the main course and there was a given vegetarian option. The meat course was standard and it was a Pitt Meadows Flat Iron Steak with potato pave, root veggies and a huckleberry & rosemary jus paired with Therapy, Syrah, 2008. It was a refined “meat and potatoes” which again could have benefited from being served hot, but it was still good room temperature. The meat was closer to medium rather than medium rare, which is what I prefer, but they made a flat iron steak and potatoes look $50, and that was appreciated.
The fifth and final course was the Riesling Baba with Orange Blossom SemiFreddo, persimmon puree and pistachios paired with Lang, Off-dry, Riesling, 2008. I usually find Baba Rum Cakes too sweet and it was no different here, however I loved the creative twists on it. They took a very simple dessert and elevated it with sophisticated flavours making it appropriate for fine dining standards.
It had a dominant floral and perfume like flavour and would cater to those who like rose water and lavender. The semmifreddo was refreshing and delicious, but the cakes were a bit over baked, cold and intensely sweet from being soaked in Riesling syrup, but I loved the concept and flavour combinations.
To top things off there was some fabulous swing dancing for entertainment to enhance the 1930′s theme. It was charming and enjoyable to watch, and of course the dance floor is open to guests, but next to these professionals I think everyone chose to remain seated.
Overall it was a very well organized event, with a few timing issues here and there, and if you look at the whole picture it was worth it ($129 w/wine, $89 w/o wine). On the other hand, if you’re in it for the food it feels more like a 3 course than a 5 course and most of us headed for drinks and snacks afterwards. The wines were local and the food was pretty good taking into consideration it’s being made for 50-60 people. I probably appreciated the unique experience more, but it would be nice to see a theme change for each soiree in the future. It’s a bit of a novelty, but it can be equally enjoyed by locals and tourists.
For dates and ticket info see here.