British Columbia,Canada,Events,Media,Vancouver

Down the Rabbit Hole by Swallow Tail & In The House Festival – World’s Weirdest Restaurant

25 Nov , 2011  

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Swallow Tail & In the House Festival present…

Down the Rabbit Hole, a secret underground space where you will encounter amazing food and magical performances united.

Now, this is something so unique that I could not pass up on attending. I even gave away my own ticket for the Food & Drink themed Pecha Kucha Night #19 as it coincided on the same night. Too many events happen on the same day.. The Buzz Event was also going on!

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Obviously something pretty important was going to have to replace going to Pecha Kucha, as I was pretty stoked on listening to 20 different speakers, all in the food industry! The concept of underground dining / pop up restaurants have long attracted my attention since I started food blogging, but for many reasons just never got to try one. Here’s a compiled list of various underground dining places around the world.

After arriving at the meet up spot, we were led “down the rabbit hole” by The White Rabbit (“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”) and Alice to the secret location. Coats taken, shoes off, time to socialize and eat.

1st course – Amuse Bouche Marechal Cheese (Les Amise De Fromage), Concord Grape Fruit Band. I didn’t even notice these until the staff shone light on them.

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Hot Toddy (Amontillado Sherry, Scotch Whiskey, Cayenne, Lemon Peel, Tarragon) was served and was very welcome as it was a cold night. No rain though, very thankful for that. I can’t be the only one who would much prefer cold and snow over cold and rain, right?

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Some nibbles on the table in the form of a Broken Tea Party Tableau (Buckwheat Crisp, Harvest Squash Puree, Chantrelle Mushroom Duxelle).

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Throughout the night, I kept seeing artwork referring to Alice in Wonderland. I must say, if I were not a photographer, I probably wouldn’t have noticed half the things here, some are just so well placed that most eyes would glaze over it. That or I’m just naturally very curious.

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As this was a dress rehearsal, some things were still being worked out. However, I did enjoy the overall performance. Alice stumbles upon the DRINK ME bottle..

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Then she finds an EAT ME cake. We all know how that goes.

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After she thundered off to explore, it was time for our own drink.

Eat Me/Drink Me Beaker Soup Watercress Veloutte, Fennel Pollen Breadstick, Blue Cheese Sauce

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Soup in an Erlenmeyer Flask? Yea why not. Down The Rabbit Hole - Swallow Tail Culinary Events-16.jpg

After the soup, Cheshire the Cat made an appearance. We were ushered downstairs for the main dish and the bulk of the performance. He followed us downstairs as well.  Down The Rabbit Hole - Swallow Tail Culinary Events-15.jpgLush Astro Turf lined the floor, truly a feeling that should be due for a comeback. It just feels so damn good.

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Course 3 – Salad Garden Selection U-Pick Butter Lettuce, Curly Carrots, Pickled Red & Golden Beets, Roasted Butternut Squash, Pea Shoots, Curried Cauliflower, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Light Vinaigrette

We were encouraged to mingle, to play with our food, to share and socialize. Scissors were provided for us to cut up the Butter Lettuce, which lay in the halved pumpkins with the roots intact. Alfalfa sprouts, pickled beets and various other vegetables all grown locally also dotted the table in mismatching tableware. Down The Rabbit Hole - Swallow Tail Culinary Events-21.jpg

A subtle hint and instruction as to what we were supposed to do. Down The Rabbit Hole - Swallow Tail Culinary Events-20.jpgDown The Rabbit Hole - Swallow Tail Culinary Events-22.jpg

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A few more pieces of artwork I found around the house.Down The Rabbit Hole - Swallow Tail Culinary Events-25.jpg

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The vibe was awesome here, with the quiet chatter and strangers becoming best of friends for a few hours, bonding over the most common interest, food. Down The Rabbit Hole - Swallow Tail Culinary Events-26.jpg

Blue Caterpillar! Complete with hookah. Heh. Down The Rabbit Hole - Swallow Tail Culinary Events-28.jpg

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Excuse the ring, it’s supposed to be covered in fluff to represent a smoke ring.

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Course 4 – Main Duck Confit (local), Cranberry Cinnamon Sauce, Hazelnut Gnocci, Jerusalum Artichoke Puree, Brussels Sprouts in Butter, Turnip Tangle, Chive Flowers

Normally I am not a fan of duck prepared Western style, but this was ridiculous. Down The Rabbit Hole - Swallow Tail Culinary Events-32.jpg

All the meat was easily scraped off the bone, in fact there was very little scraping involved. Just stick your fork in, pull and bam, meat. No resistance at all. The slightly salty and crunchy roasted skin and the succulent flavour of dark meat duck….ah yes..bliss.  Down The Rabbit Hole - Swallow Tail Culinary Events-33.jpg

Again, not so subtle instructions on the ceiling. Down The Rabbit Hole - Swallow Tail Culinary Events-34.jpg

The Mad Hatter even showed up a couple times. Down The Rabbit Hole - Swallow Tail Culinary Events-35.jpg

Of course, Alice in Wonderland would not be so if the Queen of Hearts was not present. Down The Rabbit Hole - Swallow Tail Culinary Events-36.jpg

Along with her husband, King of Hearts. Down The Rabbit Hole - Swallow Tail Culinary Events-37.jpg

Course 5 – DessertRose Petal Ganache, Chocolate Ganache, Chocolate Crumble, Cherry Compote

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Dark, rich and chocolatey, the chocolate ganache was easy to eat. Between bites I cut the sweetness with the slightly tart cherries. With the rose ganache, we were instructed to alternate bites with the sage and rose petals.

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And with the final course, it was all over. Was it all a dream Alice?

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..who knows, you’ll have to find out for yourself.

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Bonus, you can even play croquet with flamingos and hedgehogs outside.

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To sum it up, this was an experience. Not your regular dining, but interspersed with live actors, this was truly food for ALL my senses. I do appreciate food, and I still consider it first and foremost the reason for going out to eat, but it’s hard to deny the effect your surroundings also have on the entire experience.

Even if the food sucked at this dinner (which it didn’t), there really is nothing else in Vancouver that can compare to this on the unique scale. In fact, it’s so unique that it’s even garnered interest from Bob Blumer who is currently in production with a new Food Network show, World’s Weirdest Restaurants.

There are still a few days left, and though I tried my hardest to convey the feeling of this event through my words and pictures, it does not compare to being there in person. If only I could afford to do this on a regular basis…

Many thanks to Robin Kort (owner/chef/sommelier of Swallow Tail), Matt Guterres, Richard, and Chef Chashma. Along with In the House Festival, the puppetry and shadows are done by a creative group called Mind of A Snail.

Details:

Public & private bookings available.

Perfect for company Christmas parties 25-45 ppl

Vegetarian Menu Available

Dates:

Nov 26 (sold out!), Dec 3 (sold out!) & Dec 17.

Times:

Saturday – 4pm & 8pm showing

Prices:

$129 regular rate / $99 group rate

Tickets:

Call 778 319 9453 to book or email [email protected]

** Chauffer Service available at an extra cost

Swallow Tail Secret Supper Club on Urbanspoon

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20 Responses

  1. Vincent N says:

    Hey Kevin, I can see why you decided to miss both events for this. To me the concept, the decor are quite stunning. You can tell they put a lot of effort into make it a bit of a trippy experience and to have the food incorporated into it. I think you know you’re in a good place when it’s almost hard to tell if it’s a theatre experience or a food one. And when you can’t differentiate between the both, you know you’ve got a good place.

  2. Janice says:

    That is the weirdest and coolest dining experience I’ve heard in a long while. Jellin!

  3. Janice says:

    Wow!! You got that blog post up fast!! The pictures look awesome. Nice meeting you last night :)

    • Kevin Wu says:

      Wanted to get it all down while it was fresh. Time sensitive!
      Thank you, it was nice meeting you last night as well.
      Maybe I’ll do the picture taking, you do the writing for Guestarant? ;) ;)

  4. nance says:

    hey Kev great post!

    No wonder you said it was something special enough for you to miss PKNVan!
    I wouldn’t know what to do either! (btw, pknvan was awesome!)

    Great photos of the venue, It’s almost like the place itself just wows you with Alice more than the food ( even if the food is spectacular )

  5. KimHo says:

    I was invited to this event as well (wonder why I still get invites…) but, as usual, I didn’t return calls/emails for such request. I will understand why some people would be interested dinners like this; however, I am not part of that group. And this is in part to my own experience in such “interactive” dinners – I guess I am not the type of people who are entertained like the rest. Now, if the “interactive” dinner is a hot pot, THAT would be different!

    • Kevin Wu says:

      You get invites still because all your stuff is online. If you were to quit, nothing would be there. ;)
      It’s like saying you quit your job but leave all your belongings there.

      Joking. It’s probably just because you’ve gone to a Swallow Tail dinner before and you do offer a very honest opinion.
      I enjoyed it, it was my first. It definitely won’t be a frequent thing for me if I were to pay, would have to be for super special events or if the event really caught my eye.

      Hot pot…? No to AYCE, and only done at home with friends.

  6. Greedy Guts says:

    Whoa! What an experience. I agree with you – the food should always be the main point of focus but there is no denying that the surroundings can add immensely to your enjoyment. Looks like fun!

  7. Nice shots! Glad you enjoyed yourself. I was one of the performers (cheshire cat, teapot on head, shadows and puppetry.) It would be great if you could add in a link to our website http://www.mindofasnail.org Thanks! : )

  8. fatpanda says:

    wooooow seriously so jealous. did you get to meet alice? hahahaa and drink a magic potion?!?

  9. […] really enjoyed my experience Down the Rabbit Hole as it was very creative, unique and interactive. The food was good to boot! I definitely was […]

  10. […] is the third time [1. Down The Rabbit Hole 2. Secret Supper Soiree Speakeasy] I’ve seen soups being served in Erlenmeyer flasks this […]

  11. […] I would have reviewed this but a few blogs did a fabulous job of capturing the evening.  Photos at 604Foodtography and Diane Smithers and review at Foodlists.ca and  […]

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