Happy 2015! We’re back from “break,” and we wanted to kick off the year with a review of one of the top dining experiences we had in 2014: Sobremesa Supper Club. Have you ever wanted to have an amazing Michelin-caliber dinner in the record-filled dining room of a house in Pilsen with an assortment of uber-cool friends you haven’t met yet? Well, now you do! Sobremesa gives you that experience and more. We had been meaning to try Sobremesa for months and in November we finally got our chance.
Sobremesa, the brainchild of Chef Gabriel Moya and husband and wife team Efren Candelaria and Mayra Estrella, is a pop up supper club that has dinners every few weeks (more in summer, less in winter), driven by creativity and local produce. Beyond amazing food, it is definitely the little touches that put this dinner into a whole other realm. For one, each dinner has its own original limited edition mini-poster and handwritten menu – each tucked in a 45 record sleeve. The musical theme carries into the rest of dinner, and diners are welcomed to rifle through the extensive record collection which included the likes of Jorge Ben (our favorite), Ray Barretto and Fela Kuti.
The dinner was BYOB in the front room of a cool Pilsen house, and the long table seated a maximum of 12 people. There were a couple of groups of friends there and one other “lone” couple, who we talked to. I am not usually one for the whole communal table experience, but it was nice to chat with like-minded food lovers. Efren also was great about talking to everyone and explaining the mission and concept behind Sobremesa. After some mixing and mingling, we took our places at the table. We each received a handwritten menu with the dishes of the day, though the descriptions were cryptic enough to make you wonder about the true shape of the dish.
*We started off with plantain chips and aji amarillo, served family style (below). We love anything with Peruvian aji amarillo, so we totally gobbled this all up.
*The next dish was simply titled: Pear, hibiscus and onions, and was a delightfully composed, simple plate. The sweetness contrast between the pears and onions was delightful.
*Next was something a bit more substantial: Cauliflower soup with a quail egg and fried leeks. Really, this was fried leek roots; it was here the chef made a point of discussing how chefs often ignore or discard potentially wonderful parts of plants, in this case, the roots. This soup was super creamy and delicious, and the use of the fried leeks was truly inspired. L also enjoyed the Lilliputian quail egg.
*The fried Brussels spouts (inspired by Momofuku) with radishes made us believer in Brussels sprouts for once.
*Next up was the unusual textures of roasted pumpkin and crema with coffee with ground cherries and puffed rice. This took on a smoky and almost mole-like flavor, and was super-complex. An appropriate dish for a November dinner, Chef Moya referred to this as something of a statement on the potential of pumpkin to stand on its own without the use of sugar, as many chefs (and palates) seem to insist on using pumpkin as a sweet / dessert dish. Here, the natural flavors of the pumpkin shined through, and worked beautifully with the coffee and crema.
*Between the next 2 courses, there was a palate cleanser of pickled beets and carrots, an elevated version of what you may find in a little dish on a taqueria table.
*Next was one of our favorite dishes of the night: chicken of the woods mushroom tacos with corn tortillas and cotija cheese. We were totally surprised by the umami taste of the mushrooms- so meaty! (cue Soup clip). This was a course we could eat on a daily basis.
*The dessert of the night was billed modestly as “Apple and Yogurt and Coriander” but this turned out to be one of the most complex and surprising dishes. Originally this plate came out as smoked coriander cake topped with pickled mustard seeds and apples. After a minute, Chef Moya came out with the whey left over from the previous dish’s queso fresco, and used it as a sauce for the dish. Beautiful.
*The final dish was oats, figs and queso fresco cheese topped with chamomile honey. The texture was Oatmeal-like and perfectly complemented by the savory/sweet figs and cheese.
One of the stated goals of Sobremesa is to be veggie-forward and accessible, and they definitely succeeded. Though $55 (not including tips) isn’t pocket change, it is a great price for the amount of food you get. All of the dishes were tasty and creative, and the flow of each dish into the next was perfect. Dinner at Sobremesa has to be one of our top meals of 2014, and it was certainly our most unique dining experience. We are looking forward to trying Sobremesa in a different season – we know they will have something creative in store!