Is it really a super exclusive club when you can barely get tickets?(Dinner Lab recap)

I have been a member of Dinner Lab since I moved back to New Orleans from Austin in 2013. Funnily enough, they expanded to Austin right when I moved! Dinner Lab started in New Orleans and has now grown to include over 30 cities.  The idea is so cool, you pay a membership fee and they send you twice monthly menus composed by up and coming chefs and you buy tickets based on the menu and the date. If you can get has become so popular you have to get on the site right when the go on sale to be able to go. Feels a lot less exclusive for that reason! 

You find out the location the day before and eat at large communal tables forcing you to talk to strangers which adds to the fun.  There have been some pretty awesome off the beaten path locations, but this past weekend it was at an art gallery in the Warehouse District. This was the first dinner lab without the ex, so it felt a little weird as we used to be an awesome meet and engage the table team. That did not happen this time, we didn't even say hello to the neighbors. Maybe it's because no one sat next to me so I had a glaringly open chair next to me that looked like a blinking "She's got cooties!" sign!  Oh well, who cares the food was good, drinks were flowing and I had one of my favorite couples with me!

You get there a half hour before dinner and there are cocktails.  Did I mention it is open bar? So nice. This Dinner lab theme was "El Pajarero: A Gringo and his golden spatula" by Chef Brandon Byrd. He explained the menu to us and told us he was from Texas and loved tex mex (who doesn't!) and went to Mexico to try and learn how to cook more Authentic Mexican cuisine.  Which he said our menu still was not but close!

The signature drink was a blueberry mojito.  I have had better but it was still pretty good!

Here is our Chef's bio.  It sounded right up my alley, I have a life long passion for Mexican cuisine as well!

The menu.  I already knew I was going to hate the octopus.  I remarked once on a date when the gentleman caller made me taste octopus that that it was the grossest thing I had ever put in my mouth. Remarkably he went on to date me for 4 months!

The sticker below is to let the servers know about my shellfish allergy.  No, I don't really have a shellfish allergy.  I have a very strange horrible reaction to the taste of shrimp that I should be embarrassed about as a native New Orleanian.  So instead of having to skip a course, I fake it.  A girl's got to do what a girl's got to do, right?

They give you comment cards to fill out.  It feels strange telling a chef you don't like their food. What do I know, I'm just a lawyer that blogs on the side about food.  And I hate shrimp, seriously who  do I think I am?!

First course: Ensalada de Jitomate with avocado, chamoy puree, lime requeson (that autocorrected to recession which made me giggle) and shaved hazelnut.  This was probably my favorite dish.  Those blackish purple things are grapes!  It was so fresh and light, was the perfect serving size and really made me excited.  There's avocado under there somewhere!

The next course was paired with a drink.  A Sherry Limon: Sherry, lemon juice, orange juice and honey.  It was delicious!  Very light, cool and refreshing.  Which was needed for the soup it was paired with!

The second course was Gazpacho de Poblano Quemado: roast garlic, sherry, cucumber, tomato and a fine herb crouton.  This was delicious, but holy heck was it spicy!  I could not finish it, which made me sad as the flavors were so good until the spice hit.  The drink served to cool it a bit, but not enough.

Third course, the dreaded octopus.  Pulpo a la Plancha: Charred octopus, shaved squash, coconut vinaigrette tamarind mole and peptita crumble.  I tasted the octopus.  It wasn't as horrible as I remember, but still not my favorite.  The dish was just odd.  They warmed us it wouldn't be hot, but I wanted it to be!  The mole and squash were really good separately, but I hated the coconut and sour tamarind together.  This was clearly not a dish for me though as I am biased!

The last savory course, Terrina al Pastor: Soubise, pickled pineapple, purslane and salsa verde.  My second favorite course.  I am not someone bothered by texture like some so I enjoyed the flavor despite the weird texture of the terrine.  The pickled pineapple was awesome and I will be doing that soon! The flavors all melded together well and it was a great creative dish.  This was paired with a Mexican pilsner beer that I forgot to photograph.  Looked and tasted like a regular old beer.

And finally, dessert.  Horchata ice cream with coffee sponge cake, dulce de leche, plums and place sesame.  I am not a big dessert person but I love salty sweet combos.  I could have eaten a whole bowl of the dulce de leche.  The dessert was alright, the cake wasn't my favorite.  Nice way to end the meal though.

It was so nice to get back to doing dinner lab and I can't wait for the next one!  Next time I am going to have to figure out how not to have the empty chair next to me, I either need a date or try to sit creatively. 

Happy cooking and eating!


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