March 30, 2014

Closed-door restaurants

Closed-door restaurants (aka clandestine or underground restaurants, supper clubs) have been quite popular in Buenos Aires for a while now. I haven't found a single one in California so far, but truth to be told, I've done very little research on the subject. I remember first hearing about Casa Felix back in 2008 and Noches Grimod soon after; the latter, no longer in existence. In my humble opinion, this concept reached its pinnacle, with artist Tony Hornecker's The Pale Blue Door. Oh, man, I so wish I'd been able to attend the Pale Blue Door Buenos Aires in 2010! 

In case you have no clue how a closed-door restaurant works, let me explain that they are usually run by chefs who may or may not also own a regular dining place. These private dinners are often held in the intimacy of the cooks' own home or at special locations such as art galleries, museums even factories. The specific coordinates are revealed once you've booked your spot in such gathering via e-mail or facebook. In my short experience, such dinners take place once or twice a month and there's only room for a limited number of guests (no more than 10-15). The menu typically consists of at least 4 steps and is revealed shortly in advanced; a vegetarian option is also usually available. I guess the secrecy around them is what makes them so exciting, well, at least to me. 

I only experienced Cocina Sunae in 2010 and Sala Juana in January this year (I feel like bringing up Tegui as well, but it's not exactly the same thing). This post was originally going to be solely about my visit to the latter, but I thought a proper introduction wouldn't hurt.

First things first, I want to say that I found out about Sala Juana thanks to the always wonderful Vero Mariani; she is the one person to resort to when it comes to eating out in Buenos Aires ;).

What I loved the most about Sala Juana is its ambiance, dim lights, mismatching chairs and tablecloths and a galore of little knickknacks spread all over the place.

The meal itself wasn't mind-blowing. but the atmosphere totally made it for me and I'd definitely go back any given weekend if I could. Don't get me wrong, the food was really good, but it's not what makes me want to return.

As you can probably imagine, prices are not the cheapest, but considering the attention and the uniqueness of the occassion, I'd say they charge a fair fee. But mmm, I can't help to wonder if people behind them pay taxes and/or bypass health-code regulations. 


I say give closed-door restaurants a try if you ever fancy a fancy dinner and you care for a different sort of intimate meal ;p.

Have a happy week, everyone!


Beate said...

I've never heard of this concept but I really like the idea :) Sounds exciting to me and the pictures are so cool! And I like the atmosphere in that restaurant you were in. The food looks yummy :)

Sian said...

the pictures are so pretty!!

Him & Me (But Mostly Me) said...

That's so cool! Maybe I'll try one when I go to BA!

Marisa Noelle said...

These look amazing Miki! I would definitely love to try a restaurant like these in a heartbeat but I doubt there are any in my small town, ha! I also wanted to try one of those restaurant where you dine completely blindfolded!

Katrin said...

That is such a cool idea, Miki! I have never been to such a restaurant and I doubt there are any in the area but I have read about it before. I would definitely want to check it out. I am sure it is a special experience! Thanks so much for sharing! Hugs!

Unknown said...

Interesting. Never herd of such a thing.

lisa said...

Wow, this sounds so mysterious and intriguing! It's definitely worth a splurge on a unique experience like this. I'm sure you're right about the taxes and health code, but hey- that's part of the charm too ;) Have a good weekend!!!

seelvana said...

me encantaría que haya algo de eso acá, pero lo veo lejíiiisimos.
Y no, no creo que paguen un solo peso de impuestos, ni siquiera en el país de las demandas jajaja =)

Katie Frank said...

I've never heard about something like this, but it seems magic !!!!

chantilly said...

Wow, this is such a cool concept! I can't say that I've been to one of these types of restaurants... but once, I walked into a "Pawn Shop" on Essex street (don't ask...) and was really surprised that it was actually a fancy restaurant behind some secret doors. Pretty cool!

Hope you're doing well, Miki :)))

Anita said...

lovely blog :)

Anja said...

Those places look amazing. And the interior decor; can I live there please?;-)

It's been 9 years since I last was in BA; I love that city!

For now, being in Asia mainly, Argentina is out of the question, but one day….one day I will revisit!

ceci a. said...

me encantan! ME encanta la idea.. por mi barrio hay varios, uno en especial al que le tengo ganas!
A otro fui y era todo tan amateur que me fui un poco molesta.... pero en gral la propuesta me parece encantadora, Y los que vos mostrás son bellos, íntimos.. dan gaas de tirarse un colchonito y dormir ahí