Deep Ellum: Underground Dinner & Birthday

Happy Birthday to Me!
Happy Birthday to Me!

It has fully come to my realization that I love sharing food with people. Food makes me happy. So I figured, sharing food should also make other people just as happy. Thus, an underground dinner was an awesome opportunity to celebrate my big 2-5 and eat some really awesome cooking.

Chef Holly is someone I had the gracious opportunity to interview a few years ago for a publication (which is framed and hanging on her walls *ahem*, we famous. Yea!) when she started her food biz called My Private Chef. By day, her business provides people with all sorts of customized meal plans. Think allergies, heart healthy, and perhaps sometimes even the picky who need creative cooking help. She is a whiz when it comes to finding good healthy substitutes in recipes that make meals tasty without compromising the dish.

By night her space is cleverly used to host underground dinner parties and cooking classes. In the past, I’ve attended a few of the underground dinners hosted by other chefs working with Chef Holly, but I have never had the opportunity to eat some of Chef Holly’s amazing cooking. She was such an awesome person to work with and she put on a fantastic dinner party for me. Underground Dinners are a great way for chefs to really test their creativity and for people who love to eat to try something new.

I was able to rally 23 of my closest friends and their appetites to try something new and celebrate with me. An underground dinner isn’t something you can just walk into a restaurant and request. At least with Chef Holly, invitations are sent to a private emailing list with dates, theme of food, costs, and limited seating. It is a first come first serve kind of affair and the seats usually fill up quickly. Menus are usually a mystery and consist of 4-5 courses. Dishes are made with what is available in the farmers’ markets. It’s fresh and locally sourced. Oh, did I mention it was BYOB? Hollaaaa!

Walking into her space in Deep Ellum, you would never expect such a quaint and intimate set up. It felt cozy and familiar and almost personal. Everything from the set up to the menu was planned with consideration for myself and my friends (especially the picky one who only likes to eat pizza and boneless chicken <3) and I couldn’t have asked for better service. My dinner party was amazing and better than I could have ever expected.

Now, on to the food. I was greeted with a delicious apple cider martini with sugar or cinnamon on the rim. It tasted like fall in a cup. It wasn’t too sweet or too strong and was a great segue into my meal. Definitely whet my appetite. The first course was a light salad made of arugula and kale in an anchovy aioli. There was a poached egg on the side that once broken, provided a tasty mix with the greens. I think my plate was slightly heavy on the salt, but overall it was a very interesting take for a salad. I’ve never had poached egg in my salad. Something to keep in mind for future reference.

The second course was out of this world delicious. Cheddar grits with a heavenly bacon confit, rock shrimp, and braised mustard greens. I gobbled it up. It was savory and the cheddar worked well with the grits and the sweetness of the shrimp.

Our third course, frankly, from any angle looks like a …well…yea. Look at it! I felt dirty eating the whole thing, but I couldn’t help myself. Lol. This course was a tarragon and chive herb gnocchi with crispy sage and braised kale in a brown butter sauce on top of a sweet potato puree.

Our main dish was the star of the entire meal. Toasted fennel seed and herb crusted pork tenderloin with a to-die-for wild mushroom risotto and fresh crunchy Haricot Verts (kind of like green beans) on top. The pork was so tender and succulent, you could cut it with a fork. It was perfectly seasoned and was a simple and elegant dish.

Dessert had about a million components. Hazelnut chocolate ganache with a hazelnut crust. Frangelico whipped cream on top and in the raspberries and a macaron to top it off.

My amazing friends
My amazing friends

The presentation of each dish was beautiful and the personalization is something people don’t get to experience very often from regular restaurants. Underground dinners are one of Dallas’ best kept secrets and I am so glad to be in the know.  This was definitely the best birthday I’ve ever had and I couldn’t have done this without her. Thank you to all of my amazing friends and loved ones for coming out and making it awesome.

Thank you Tim L. for providing some awesome pictures for my blog!

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