Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 2:14 am Post subject: Am I missing something?
"Underground restaurant", as defined in the Wikipedia article Clotilde cited, and in the newspaper article she linked to, is an illegal venture. Maybe I am too sensitive now because of so much corporate and government and celebrity injustice recently in the US. Are these places unlicensed and non-taxpaying? No permits? No health inspections?
Of course I don't know any particulars about any specific business!
But if there are places out there accumulating profit by operating outside the law, I'm against it. Didn't anybody watch the Sopranos?
Puleeze correct me if I'm out of line.. or just plain wrong!
Joined: 29 Sep 2004 Posts: 2498 Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 2:39 am Post subject:
When my husband and I were in college (different colleges) we had friends going to school in Cambridge that we used to visit a lot plus Steve was a musician and they had a lot of gigs up there.
There was, at the time, a famous place for getting an all-night breakfast for almost nothing (Tommy's?). You had to know where it was in any given week like a rave. When you got there you got a plate heaping with a 1/4 pound or so of bacon, 4 or more scrambled eggs, probably potatoes, a ton of toast and a vats of juice and coffee in cups bearing the logos of any number of large chains.
We couldn't figure out the economics of it at least in any sane or completely legitimate world. And imagine the logistics of moving or constantly coming up with locations with industrial equipment! But it was great and a great deal for those middle of the night munchies if you happen to remember the late 60s. And never less that 3/4s full.
I suppose that's sorta what you're referring to? Wonder how long it lasted.
All things considered, Clotilde's report of 7 course meals and visiting chefs sounds much more promising! _________________ God writes a lot of comedy... the trouble is, he's stuck with so many bad actors who don't know how to play funny. -- Garrison Keillor
Oh gingerpale---Ihope I don't now seem wicked in your eyes but I enjoy the idea of the hidden restaurant. I'm afraid in this era of over regulation and over taxation I applaud a small rebellion. I'm from Saskatchewan originally and as much as I love the place it has a few too many 'rules" for my liking. For example the amount of square footage that must be allotted per customer in a restaurant combined with the ratio of toilets and urinals required per number of customers leads to large, empty feeling enterprises devoid of the hustle and burble of a good fun urban restaurant where such rules don't exist. I certainly appreciated health concerns but really, from the description of the people behind and the food offered at the hidden restaurants I've read about, well, they certainly don't sound like salmonella factories. And look at the mark-up on wine in North American restaurants!! It is necessary to keep the bills paid but it often means settling for less. I would go to a hidden restaurant, I will buy unpasturized cheeses, I will buy unpasturized milk, I will go the farmer's market and buy uninspected home made pies and cookies!
STORM THE BARRICADES!!! _________________ Vivant Linguae Mortuae!!
Joined: 08 Aug 2006 Posts: 136 Location: France, Bordeaux
Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 5:00 pm Post subject:
Hurray for you David ! Too much regulation can kill many good things ! We are becoming so afraid of germs and risk that we forget our immune system needs contact with them in order to build up. Even in France (we smelly cheese lovers !) restaurant health regulations can become a real pain in the neck. Do you know that fresh made mayonnaise is forbidden ? Custard and omelettes have to be made out of processed eggs, not raw eggs ! I know, some restaurants have kitchen that are a disgrace, and hygiene is a good thing, but common sense should be listened to. In most french schools, it is now forbidden to bring home made cakes when there is a birthday party, or the school party.
So the idea of these underground restaurants is kind of appealing, since they don't seem like big, everyday ventures. My sister's mother in law cooks dinner for the whole family every sunday. A full meal, 5 courses at least, for 15 to 20 people, every sunday. And she does it all, for entrées to desserts. The only sick people to ever walk away from those meals are usually the men of the family, but not because of the food. They are rather fond of wine and do drink heartily ! And she has been doing this for more than 40 years !
These people are trying to get their paperwork through, but being France... it takes forever and is very expensive.
Their decision to open as a "secret location" is whilst all this is happening. It helps with the (huge) expenses of setting up a resto in Paris, and irons out any glitches in the system ready for when they are fully licensed and approved.
Personally I like the idea of the secret location and a surprise set menu. Adds a bit of intrigue and mystery to it all.
Anyway, I will let you all know next week what it is like as I have reservations for this weekend. _________________ If you cannot feel your arteries hardening, eat more cheese. If you can, drink more red wine. Diet is just "die" with a "t" on the end. Exercise is walking into the kitchen.
Joined: 18 Oct 2004 Posts: 1654 Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound
Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 7:26 pm Post subject:
It seems that my milk allergy doesn't translate to unpasturized cheeses. Why are they so freaking hard to get? I mean, just treat it like cigarettes and slap a label on it. I wonder how many more have succumbed to cheese than a cig?
Why are organ meats so heavily regulated? I can't even buy a proper haggis. Nannies.
I totally see your point, especially from a profit/tax standpoint. Although, I will admit part of me does like the idea of a secret resto. _________________ "It's watery....and yet there's a smack of ham."
No, David, you're not wicked! I'm an idiot, and sanctimonious as well!
The secret dinners sound really fun & exciting, I'd love to attend one I'm sure.
And of course health and safety laws should be sensible -- bare feet and communal bowls would be fine with me!
My concern is the bottom line--show me the money. Playing the same game by different rules just isn't right.
It did surprise me that the word "illegal" popped up in nearly every article about these underground ventures and everybody seemed OK with it.
Eat whatever/wherever you like, but pay your taxes!
Joined: 03 Aug 2005 Posts: 135 Location: Seattle, WA
Posted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 6:12 pm Post subject:
Having been to a local "underground" i have to say it is an unbelievable experience. These groups are not in existence to make a profit tax free, but to create unique dining experiences. The "donation" is usually reasonable, $45 + wine, for 5+ courses - a bargain if you ask me. (more like reimbursement of expenses than a profit situation).
They are often venues for sous chefs of all star restaurants to fly solo, or for diners to get rub elbows with the local celeb chef trying new ideas. they are usually communal tables, with an emphasis on conversation, etc. some of them are farm oriented, allowing diners to enjoy the harvest right at the source. some even have a charity such as sustainable food sources, or healthier school lunch programs receiving proceeds.
the point (imho) is that illegal is a strong word....most have web sites, so if the gov really wanted to track them down, it wouldn't be that hard. i don't think they are trying to dodge anything. the only reason they are illegal is b/c it is impossible to legalize a weekly or monthly (and experimental) event to health codes. beaurocracy at its finest. imagine if you had to schedule a government inspection and associated paperwork every time you had a dinner party? besides, flying under the radar makes it kind of sexy.....dont' you think?
Joined: 20 Jun 2007 Posts: 18 Location: Washington, DC
Posted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 3:55 pm Post subject:
These sound wonderful. I would love to try one, but are they hard to find? Someone mentioned that they have websites, but I assume you have to be a little bit "in the know" to hear about them in the first place. I hope I can find one in DC!
There once was a hidden burger joint, only open for lunch, near where I worked. The proprietress didn't take payment for her magnificent burgers, but if you happened to drop $5 into the basket on your way out the door you were welcome back anytime. Of course the place wasn't advertised and had no website (no internet in those days). The place was packed, sometimes with police officers on a lunch break. I always thought it was really cool.
Well, the food was great. The ambiance perfect, and the hosts lovely.
Payment was by a donation of a suggested amount.
Afterwards we worked it out and figured that they are barely covering their costs.
All in all. I would go back again and would recommend it to others.
Will post more later, at present I am trying to get the ironing done (can't you tell how much I love ironing, I am on the computer for the slightest thing... ) _________________ If you cannot feel your arteries hardening, eat more cheese. If you can, drink more red wine. Diet is just "die" with a "t" on the end. Exercise is walking into the kitchen.
Joined: 29 Sep 2004 Posts: 1196 Location: buried under a pile of books somewhere in Adelaide, South Australia
Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 1:12 am Post subject:
Ironing, what's that?
I have one of those iron-press thingys that sits on an ironing board and ends up a dumping ground for all sorts of junk. I did find it excellent when I was tailoring and dressmaking, though.
The Hidden Kitchen meal sounds fantastic, Debbie, I'm looking forward to reading more about it, when you've finished the ironing. _________________ Doing what you like is freedom
Liking what you do is happiness
I admit to being a tad confused as usual... I read 'Underground Kitchen' and wondered how you'd cook in the Tube!
Hidden Kitchen sounds very cool, tho' surely once the cooking starts you'd smell the kitchen's whereabouts and track it down to its lair.
When I eventually get to Paris, that's how I'm going to find Debbie! Tho' I may find Clotilde instead that way! Either way I will make sure I have good chocs on me. I'm actually ok with ironing... er, why do I get the feeling I shouldn't have said that?! _________________ Confusion comes fitted as standard.
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