Dare to dine

Secret Supper Clubs have become the trend du jour, as the exciting pop-up restaurant scene takes off across the world

Secret Supper Clubs, the ‘underground dining’ scene offering foodies a unique way of sampling innovative dishes in often surprising and unconventional settings, have been taking global cities such as London, Dubai and New Orleans by storm in recent times.

One prominent example is The Dinner Club by No.57 in the UAE, a secret supper club that has taken the premise of the pop-up restaurant to the next level.

Launched by two Emirati friends Buthaina Al Mazuri and Alamira Noor Bani Hashim after they became frustrated by the difficulties of opening their own boutique café in Abu Dhabi, this invite-only supper club has succeeded in turning the traditional dining experience completely on its head.

Each month, the pair transform unexpected locations into spectacular event spaces, explains Al Mazuri. “We love to surprise our guests by hosting dinners in the most unconventional spaces we can find. The more deconstructed, unexpected and hidden the better!

Noor and Buthaina portrait
Buthaina Al Mazuri and Alamira Noor Bani Hashim launched The Dinner Club by No.57 to great success

“We’ve had events at the water’s edge under Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi, at a skate park, on an empty bus, at a construction site, on the back of an Indian lorry,” she adds.

The club is truly unique with different themes and menus at each event, and no two nights are the same. Plus the guests do not know each other, thus further adding to the element of surprise.

Their bold dining concept has proved a successful formula, becoming one of the most sought-after dinner invitations in the UAE with some glamorous VIP guests.

“A memorable night was when we hosted Christian Louboutin in a garden dinner in Dubai. Our signature animals [which are placed at each guest’s seat] were painted in that unmistakable red,” recalls Al Mazuri.

Meanwhile, in London, the Last Secret Supper Club is another venue offering dining with a difference. Guests choose a much-loved childhood dish or a recipe from their favourite cookbook and submit them online for the chance to be re-created at one of the Last Secret Supper Club events. The menu is undisclosed until guests arrive, when they are surprised with a delicious ‘meal roulette’ prepared by award-winning Brazilian chef Jesse Dunford Wood.

We love to surprise our guests by hosting dinners in the most unconventional spaces we can find. The more deconstructed, unexpected and hidden the better!

Buthaina Al Mazuri

Since it began two years ago in New Orleans, Dinner Lab has also been cooking up a storm. Considered as the 2.0 of the supper club, its aim is to give restaurant chefs the opportunity to experiment and create intriguing plates of food, with dishes such as alligator and green onion croquettes, confit frog legs with cabbage escabeche and turnip-yogurt all turning up on the menu in the past.

Feedback is a key part of the social dining experiment, so that even ‘Haute cuisine’ chefs can take note, improve and if rated highly, have the chance to re-create the menu at another event.

Now hosted in 24 cities across the US, Brian Bordainick CEO of the Dinner Lab says the secret to the Dinner Lab’s success lies in the fact that “people love eating chef-driven food in a unique location without the boundaries of a traditional restaurant”, and it is this understanding that forms its foundation. It’s a formula that is being repeated to the delight of adventurous diners in cities everywhere – who knows where the next one will pop up.