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Charlotte’s Secret Dinner Society

Posted Feb 27 2013 11:10am

Have you heard? There’s a secret dinner society in Charlotte, NC, and they’re throwing some of the best dinner parties in town.

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I’d heard about the Cheshire Dinner Society through my friends Courtney and Jamie who are two of the brains behind the operation, as well as, via some of my other foodie friends in town. This past weekend, I got to go to my very first event.

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The whole event was mostly a mystery. I purchased the tickets without knowing where or even what we’d be eating. Guests were emailed the address the day before the dinner. I googled the address, and based on that, I thought we were going to Leroy Fox, but they had other plans for us.

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We met upstairs at Leroy Fox, which used to be Hotel Charlotte, for drinks.

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But, we headed downstairs, to what used to be Danny’s speakeasy, for the main event.

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We were greeted with a long table with an eclectic mix of glasses, candles, and linens. They had created a cozy little eating nook in the basement of the building that had all the elements of a restaurant without the restaurant feel. This was definitely something different altogether. I felt a little like I’d followed the white rabbit into a different world in the coolest way possible. We didn’t have a cheshire cat, but we did have a delicious Cheshire dinner waiting in the wings.

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The event was BYOB, so the guests’ bottles of wine mingled with the various other glass pieces on the tabletops.

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The glass mugs were part of the beer club that used to be part of the facility. I had JC’s mug. If you look closely at the photo, you can just make out the etched initials on the glass.

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The lighting was low, but I managed to get some good shots with my wide aperture lens. I just had to share photos of the food with you guys – it was too delicious to not get photographed (and then blogged).

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One of the big secrets of the event is the food itself. I literally didn’t know what I’d be eating until the plate was placed before me. And even then, the plates were distributed around the table while guests excitedly tried to figure out what was in each one. We’d eye the dishes and make guesses. Sun-dried tomato?  Pancetta? It smells amazing whatever it is!

Once each course was fully served, chef Kyle would give us the details of what we were about to enjoy.

We started with a white bean soup with crispy chorizo. I was so excited for the first course I forgot to Instagram it. Luckily, I got a photo with my DSLR.

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For the second course, we had goat cheese panna cotta, poached pear vinaigrette, Tega Hill greens, smoked honey, and candied walnuts. I’m not even a big goat cheese fan, but I almost licked this plate clean. Almost.

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When I saw the tiny bowls containing the third course coming out, I thought we had a palate cleansing sorbet. Nope. Even better – Foie & chicken confit ravioli with sherry and mushroom emulsion and blood orange oil. Hubby gobbled his up in about 5 seconds while I took a little more time to savor each bite.

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But the main course was my favorite of the night – so good, I had to share two photos.

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We enjoyed melt-in-your-mouth, red wine and balsamic braised short rib with touches of sweetness with brown sugar, celery root purée, roasted cauliflower, frisée in grilled onion vinaigrette, and carrot chips. I loved the lightly sweet flavor of the outside of the short rib. Knives weren’t even close to being needed as the meat easily fell apart, it was so tender. Each bite seemed better than the first.

All the dishes exceeded my expectations, and I enjoyed every single bite along the way. One thing I just realized is that I never even thought about where the salt and pepper shakers were, everything was so perfectly prepared.

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Desserts weren’t far after and a couple were served with candles since there were birthdays being celebrated that night.

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We had a special treat for dessert – FuManChu Cupcakes . Word on the street is that he’s opening a shop soon in Plaza Midwood. Stay tuned for more details!

Hubby grabbed a chocolate-y concoction – an Irish car bomb cupcake.

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I selected a creamy coconut cupcake with toasted coconut on top.

Both were moist and delicious and have me looking forward to the FuManChu shop opening. I was told it may be open in a couple months. Is it May yet?

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After dinner ended, we cleared out of our secret location and headed upstairs for a couple more drinks.

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We got to chat with the chefs – Kyle Rhodes (pictured just above) and Jamie Lynch (pictured far above) from 5Church – and tell them how much we enjoyed their creations. These talented chefs did a wonderful job making fun and delicious eats for us.

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{Elizabeth, Courtney, Susan, and me}

And we got to spend some time hanging out with friends – old and new.

So, I guess the dinner society isn’t so secret. They do have a Facebook page and stuff. But, their events are still cloaked in an air of mystery that makes it so much more fun than just eating out at a restaurant. I can’t wait till the next event!

Reader question: Have you ever been to a secret dinner? How did your event go? If you haven’t, what twists and turns do you think would make an event like this extra fun for you?

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