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09 August 2014 @ 08:19 pm
Relish Underground Dining  
Last night, I went to...well, hmm. I called it a pop-up restaurant when I mentioned it briefly on Facebook, but that's not entirely accurate because it's always in the same place--namely, the host's apartment--and runs on a regular schedule. But it's not exactly a supper club either, because there's a definite chef and servers who don't eat with the diners. I guess "underground dining" works as well as anything.

I learned about it because there was a note about Relish winning best underground dining, which True Nature Foods reposted on their Facebook page, the connection being that True Nature is where we go to get most of our groceries and Julia works there. So I looked around a bit, read another article in the Chicago Reader, thought it sounded pretty neat, and signed up.

On the appointed day, we walked down to the address we had been given and, after a moment of confusion about why the door wouldn't open until I found the special technology known as "the knob," we climbed up the top floor, looked for the door that had "Relish Dining" written on it, and went in.

Inside, we were greeted by another couple who were also attending and pointed out the drinks and mason jars laid out on the table. To the left of the door was the menu, including the source for all the food served:

Excuse the cut-off bits. Not visible to the right was the third panel with the mission statement.

...and the rest of the room was a combo apartment dining room/living room. We chatted with the other couple, whose names I sadly don't remember, as a few more people slowly filtered in and then one of the servers came out and took a head count of how many vegetarians and how many meat-eaters were present. Then they brought out the meals as they were completed, announcing whether they were vegetarian or meat eater, and on the second round of meat eating plates I grabbed one.

I'm not sure this conveys just how delicious it was,

It was amazing. The chicken wings were the worst part, and they managed that ignominy merely by not being as good as the rest of the food. The Vietnamese tacos especially were fantastic--I don't usually like sour cream at all, but whatever was done to the sour cream here made me love it. The dressing on the salad was much more substantial than I was led to expect from the name vinaigrette; it might have been the cilantro mixed it, but it was almost more like a guacamole in the center of the salad that I ended up mixing in with the rest of it.

I didn't manage to get a picture of dessert, but it was avocado ice cream with chocolate-covered toasted coconut on top. I wasn't the biggest fan, but that's only because I don't like avocado. softlykarou was over the moon from the moment she took the first bite.

Julia also came out to see how the guests were doing and how they liked the food and gave us hugs when she saw us. (^_^*) I spent a bit of time gushing over how great the tacos were and how they overcame even my hatred for sour cream, and then we chatted a bit, and soon after softlykarou was feeling a bit tired and we wanted to make it home to light the Shabbat candles, so we left a tip in the tip jar and excused ourselves. Which turned out to be slightly sad, because some of the other people from True Nature that we see every week also turned up after we left, and it would have been nice to chat with them in a social context now that we actually have places that we're regulars at.

Next month is Vietnamese pizza. Now, I usually don't like pizza unless it's margherita pizza, which is apparently the archetypal pizza so now I'm going to claim that my love of pizza is pure and unsullied by the last century's degeneration of the pizza concept, but on the other hand I don't usually like sour cream either and Relish made me like that, so I'm willing to give it a try. The only thing that gives me pause is that it's always on the second Friday of the month, which is also when our synagogue's Shabbat dinners are, so I'll have to pick.

But yeah, it's awesome and you should go.
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Current Music: The Incomparable podcast