Over the last few years supper clubs and pop-up restaurants have sprung up internationally in country villages and in cities all over the world, sharing the basic idea of making use of spaces other than conventional restaurants in which to host a meal. Many supper clubs are simply held in private homes while pop-up restaurants have been found in vans, on building sites and in hired rooms. The underlying idea is to reject the trite and mundane and provide something which will add to the over-all gastronomic experience.
Silver Spoon’s Guerilla Dining takes this to a new level. The Copenhagen-based company founded by Tiffany Ng and James Digby operates internationally and has produced their signature events in Chicago and San Francisco ( where they met) as well as in Denmark. Supper clubs have taken place in libraries, museums and factory buildings with themes such as, ‘The Elements’ or ‘Food and Fashion’.
We attended ‘Under the Sea’ which was staged as part of the twice–yearly Copenhagen Cooking Festival. Having no idea what to expect other than a five course meal, we arrived at the mystery destination, a rather plain looking, metal-clad industrial building on the outskirts of the city with open minds and empty stomachs.
We were told to wait – a ploy to build up suspense – until eventually the doors were opened and we were ushered inside. Our fist impression was of an overwhelming smell of fish. We were in fact in fact in the city’s fish market.
It was a long white-tiled room with a gallery running above ground level and a series of bays on either side from which the individual fishmongers traded their catches during the day. It was impeccably clean and tidy with a line of long tables laid with place settings and sparkling glasses running down the centre, while to one side we could see, placed in readiness, a very reassuring display of good wines.
James and Tiffany were there to greet the guests and explain something of the ethos of the company. “We try to create ephemeral performance pieces where food, chefs and menus come together for a single event,” Tiffany said. “We like to find a locale which can inspire a whole experience. These can range from raw-industrial or rustic to posh. Each is like an art installation never to be replicated again.”
As she spoke, more people were arriving, mainly well-dressed, young professional types with a scattering of older people, who were obviously relaxed and happy to find themselves in this original venue. Some apparently were Silver Spoon regulars. In total 59 diners came to the event, nine more than were originally anticipated.
Strange music was emulating the sounds of the sea as we watched the chefs, Kamilla Seidler and Mette Dalhgaard, quietly and efficiently going about the business of preparing a large meal in these odd surroundings – which did at least benefit from plentiful water and adequate cooking facilities.
James then announced that it was time for cocktails and conducted us through a sort of tented doorway into one of the bays. Inside it was dark, the only lighting being an ‘under-sea’ electric blue and the glitter of ice. The (large) cocktails were ladled from a series of fish bowls and aquaria and tables were spread of amuse bouches of whitebait and crisp and delicious ‘lobster chips’.
We then sat down at the table where we were offered glasses of a 2009 Crémant de Jura wine and the meal began with a pretty scallop ceviche, served on a wooden platter with bio-dynamically grown cress and almonds. On the table were big serving platters of fresh mussels and another wine, Domaine Giachino from Savoie was served.
The main course was Silver Spoon’s take on ‘fish sticks’accompanied by a mix of spinach, glasswort, seaweed and oyster leaves which we had watched Kamillla and Mette prepare earlier. With this we drank a 2010 Macon-Villages.
Finally the waiters served a strange but pleasant pudding of ‘Cream on Ice, Blue Gelée and Seawater’ which was accompanied by a wine from La Ferme Sainte Pierre, called, “Pipi d’anges”. By now the atmosphere had changed from the rather hushed anticipation at the beginning of the meal and people were now relaxed, chatting, laughing, very obviously enjoying themselves. As the light faded outside, candles were lit and the room took on a magical appearance.
As the party broke up and people called taxis or got into their cars to return to the real world, we tried to sum up our views. The cost of the meal was 450DK and the wines 250 DK (about £75 per person in total). The food, if not an exceptional gastronomic experience was fresh, tasty, and somewhat unusual; the wines were first rate (alcohol flowed almost too copiously all evening); the seating was comfortable; the organisation was polished and smooth considering the amount of work which must have gone into the evening; the service was efficient and friendly and the company was good. We felt Silver Spoon had succeeded in creating something different in this unique and almost theatrical dinner party. We eat a great number of restaurant meals all over the world but felt that our evening ‘Under the Sea’ was not one we would forget and thus our conclusion was that it provided good value for money. Memories, after all, are priceless.