Inside Brooklyn’s underground foodie scene

Inside Brooklyn’s underground foodie scene
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The secret’s out.

From the heavily lauded Whisk and Ladle in Williamsburg, to smaller, less well-know clubs like One Big Table and Ted and Amy’s, Brooklyn has become home to at least 12 discreet (and, technically, illegal) dining experiences.

Invitations at some are harder to come by than others, but these days, that’s not even really the point. Instead, supper clubs have become another facet in the borough’s vast gastronomical culture, a chance for foodies to try something new and strangers to co-mingle in a unique environment.

“When people first walk in the door, they’re not really sure what they signed up for,” said Heather, a waitress by day and, by night, a hostess at One Big Table, a Bushwick-based supper club that recently expanded to two big tables (she requested anonymity). “There are awkward moments sometimes, but between good food and alcohol, it seems like everyone is friends at the end of the night.”

For Kara Masi, a host at Ted and Amy, the inspiration for the club stemmed from a penchant for throwing elaborate dinner parties, but not necessarily the deep pockets needed to fund them.

“I really enjoyed cooking for my friends but couldn’t afford to cook the food I wanted to cook. So my friends finally said, ‘Why don’t you just let us pay you,’ ” she said.

These days, thanks to a website and word of mouth, most of the guests at Ted and Amy’s usual twice-monthly 12-seat dinners are complete strangers.

“I had no idea it would turn into such a big thing,” said Masi.

The chefs may be amateurs, but noteworthy gastronomy is certainly much of the draw for the attending adventurers, who are willing to shell out from $35 to upwards of $100 depending on the club. At One Big Table, guests were largely blown away by the five-course menu, featuring Greenmarket-centric items like a Migliorelli Farms Chilled Smokey Corn Soup and PE & DD Seafood Grilled Scallop Ceviche with Brooklyn Grange Wax Beans.

For some, of course, the food isn’t the main point.

“I actually don’t think our food is all that great,” said Mark Low, a founder of Whisk and Ladle, which largely paved the way for other supper clubs four years ago. “We try our best, we make everything from scratch, but this is really about bringing a group of people together.”

Whether the draw is the food or the experience, one thing is certain: Even in Brooklyn’s ever-expanding gastronomical landscape the supper club will remain intimate — three big tables really wouldn’t fit in a Bushwick loft.

Kara Masai, seen slaving over pasta with green peas, mint and ricotta, runs the Supper Club out of a Fort Greene apartment.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

For info and reservations, visit Whisk and Ladle at thewhiskandladle.com; Ted and Amy at tedandamysupperclub.com; and One Big Table at onebigtablebrooklyn.com.