Dinner Lab. While I have participated in things that were called underground dinner parties before, they were held in a restaurant, and while the food served wasn't normally on the menu, it wasn't terribly different from dining at a restaurant that I have never been to before. The dinner served by Dinner Lab was very definitely not in a restaurant. In fact, the building used was formerly a factory. Admittedly, someone had previously rehabbed the space into a loft and had been living in it so many of the necessities needed to hold a dinner party were there already. For the diners, the only thing that they needed to bring in were tables and chairs.
Confit Pork Belly Rillette with Garbanzo Beans, Chervil, and Bone Broth. With the garbanzo beans and the spices used, it very definitely had a North African flavor to it. The rillette was rough ground as rillettes are and had a definite bacon flavor which added to the savoriness of the broth and garbanzos.
We then went to the first of our entrees which was a porky spin on Vitello Tonnato, a cold sliced veal served with tuna flavored mayonnaise. This dish used Thinly-Sliced Olive Oil-Poached Pork Shoulder served with a Tuna Aioli, Watercress, and Lard Bread. The pork was very tender and light, and it was served cool. The tuna aioli, which was served on the side, was also light and added a tuna flavor. The lard bread was dense and kind of heavy, but was good bread and provided a good counterpoint to the lightness of the pork shoulder.
The second entree was decidedly heavier both in flavor and in feel. We were served a Hickory Smoked Pork Leg with Green Onion Pesto and Olive Oil Potato. Ham comes from a pork leg and I was kind of expecting this to taste like ham but I am guessing because of the preparation and the fact that it was not cured, it tasted more like a smoked pork chop. The mashed potatoes and the pesto added some strong flavors that complemented the smokiness of the leg.
With the previous dishes we had had head, belly, shoulder, leg, and innards (with the pate). For the dessert we had the skin. The skin was deep fried to make Chicharrons, rolled in Powdered
Sugar, and served with with Peanut Butter, Guajillo and Arbol
Chiles in a Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Tuille and Brandied Cherries. I liked every part of this but the pork. I am not a fan of popcorn, and texturally, that's what the chicharrons reminded me of. This was a flavorful dish with a lot of variety and if the chicharrons had been a little more crunchy, it would have been great. In any case, overall dinner was a lot of fun and I would definitely attend another diner held by Dinner Lab.