Dinner Is Served
Two Austin takes on the supper club trend
Roving supper clubs and pop-up restaurants are a very hot trend these days. Aspiring and established chefs as well as caterers and passionate home cooks will choose a location, design a menu, send out an email blast or a tweet, and voilà – dinner is served. The Austin food community supports several active supper clubs, many operated by accomplished caterers. Supper club presentations can keep catering cooks and servers working between scheduled weddings and parties while providing an outlet for creative culinary expression. "When we are catering weddings and parties, the menus have to suit the client's tastes, but coming up with supper club menus gives our chef more room to explore and express himself," explains 2 Dine 4 Fine Catering owner Stephen Shallcross, who hosts Supper Friends at the Swoop House. "We thought about doing a pop-up restaurant, but since we already had this great space and a staff that's willing to work, a supper club seemed like a better idea," reports Brenton Schumacher, owner of Pink Avocado Catering at the Palm Door, where he also hosts Bread & Circus Supper Club.
Supper Friends and Bread & Circus are two very appealing but dramatically different supper clubs with one key element in common: Both companies work out of their own buildings, making it possible for them to host meals whenever they aren't servicing catering customers. Bread & Circus offers monthly, themed affairs open to as many as 100 guests; Supper Friends presents smaller seated dinners two or three times a month. While observing both clubs in action last week, I discovered that the personality of each supper club reflects the influence of its home venue to some extent, and both claim very loyal and satisfied clienteles. Chronicle photographer John Anderson was along to document the dishes and the ambience at both parties.