Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Super Supperclub

The moody ambience at Supperclub San Francisco

: VN Editorial Director Aurelia d'Andrea
What: A night of food, drink, and entertainment galore
When: Wednesday, February 25
Where: Supperclub San Francisco in SF's SoMa district
Why: To experience this global-dining phenomenon's take on "vegetarian week"

The Scoop: If you thought the only perks for staffers here at VegNews were the daily vegan lunches, that's where you'd be wrong. There's also this little thing called "vegan dinner," and sometimes, this event takes place at a swank nightclub where opera singers and burlesque dancers provide the entertainment while one dines, Roman style, in full loungey-relax mode. Sound intriguing? It was!

My date and I arrived in time to partake in the pre-dinner Champagne-and-mingle festivities in the restaurant's sparkly red and black bar. Across the room I spotted Darryl Cohen, who publishes Foodism magazine. The last time we crossed paths was at the Slow Food Nation event last summer, where we sat next to one another during a "Climate Change and Food" panel discussion. Small world! After chit-chatting a bit, we were ushered into the ultra-mod dining room for the main event.

We scooched in to our small table, adorned with votive candles and a carrot bouquet where one might expect flowers, were promptly served a most-welcome glass of vino, and before we knew it, the entertainment segment of the evening began.

From the dining-room's elevated catwalk, a lovely vision with a voice to match descended: an opera singer, wearing a bosom-hugging ball gown, singing something lovely and recognizable (but unnamable by this opera novice). So perfect was this woman's voice that my companion and I each thought we were watching a lip-synching performance. Not so! The performers at Supperclub—from the opera divas to the airborn contortionists—are top-notch and très authentique.

Our first course was delivered in an unorthodox fashion: in a skillet, meant to be consumed a deux, directly from the pan. Hmm ... interesting. The lighting was so dim that it was hard to see what all we were eating, but it tasted pretty darn good and consisted primarily of fried mushrooms.

When the second course arrived, we weren't sure whether we were supposed to share or not; turns out the enormous bowls of carrot bisque were intended to be consumed exclusively by one diner, so we followed directions and sipped every last drop.

A waitress at Supperclub San Francisco spreading the vegan message

While we waited for the main course to arrive, we were treated to the aerial acrobatics of two daring performers who hovered above the dining room in a strange ballet that combined the most exciting elements you'd find at any Cirque du Soleil performance. Frankly, it was a bit frightening; the last thing you want is to lose your appetite watching a person (or two) plummet to earth before you've had a chance to dig in to the main course.

Presented on a long, rectangular plate, the main course looked as impressive as it tasted: Savory braised tofu, perfectly-cooked onion, bok choy, and fennel, all held together beneath a lip-smacking veil of deliciously salty sauce ... Yum! But hold on here. There's no time to focus on food when a male burlesque dancer is vying for your attention. Good lord!

Between the fishnet-and-top hat wearing burlesque boy and dessert (vegan chocolate mousse), we were treated to one last performance, this time by a blue bunny-suited fellow in six-inch lucite heels who sang, danced, and "interacted" with the audience in ways that cannot be described here. Risque? Yes, ma'am! But was it fun? Yessiree.

If the idea of feasting and funning it up simultaneously sounds like your cup of tea, you won't want to miss Supperclub's next "vegetarian week" which is tentatively slated for later this spring in San Francisco. Just beware the blue bunny!

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