In recent years, dining out has become much more intricate than simply making a reservation, arriving at the restaurant, and eating. Now those who would feed us are cooking up ever more creative ways—via food trucks, food carts, pop-up restaurants, you name it—to deliver a multi-sensory experience.
One of the latest trends is the pop-up dinner party. Denver's most recent devotee to this phenomenon is Silver Spork Social. Conceived and executed by Paul Laurie, a Colorado native (his brother is Jonny 5 of the Flobots), a Silver Spork evening features about 30 guests—you have to be referred by someone to get in—a local chef and bartender, and an accompanying band.
Laurie's aim is to bring together Denver's creative and culinary professionals and just see what happens. For the May 15 event, he instructed his guests to assemble at the Tattered Cover downtown and then led them to his LoDo loft. (The location of the typically bi-monthly events varies.) They sat around a long table and began chatting. The group was comprised primarily of strangers with a wide range of ages and professions. It's the kind of setting in which it helps to be able to work a room, but the long-table format—which included a musical chairs rotation halfway through—makes it easy to get to know the people around you.
What ensued was a six-course, small plate feast from chef Dakota Soifer of Boulder's Cafe Aion. The meal featured Soifer's Spanish-North African concoctions—think cool and savory-meets-spicy—including a morsel of potato, egg, pine nuts, and chard with currants and sauce romesco (pictured); jamon serrano with piquillo pepper, capers, celery, and potato chips; and a lamb loin with harissa, farro, cilantro, and rosewater vinaigrette. And after the musical chairs migration, Laurie had everyone don a blindfold and sample an oyster mushroom polenta—his multisensory ode to a three-hour tasting dinner he once had in a darkened Middle Eastern restaurant.
Accompanying each course were cocktails from bartender Raquel Tully from Old Major, who mixed and matched drinks to complement the flavors. These ranged from Estrella Daura beer (for the jamon course) and Grenache Noir rosé (for the lamb loin) to a potion of Mezcal Vida, Ancho Reyes, lime, agave, and muddled strawberries (for the potato and egg dish).
As the booze and food did its work, the conversational volume increased over the live jazzy soundtrack provided by local singer Elle Taylor and her band. For the $90 per head charge, guests were able to eat, drink, chat, and maybe make a few new friends—which is all you could ask from any dinner party.
For information on future events, visit Silver Spork Social.
Images courtesy of Lauren DeFilippo.
Follow 5280 articles editor Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.