Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happenings: Bon Appetit Supper Club & Cafe

Every year, the Bon Appetit Supper Club & Cafe "pops" into town for a week, featuring cafe items designed by celebrity chefs, cooking demos and tastings in a beautifully designed space. Think a fancier version of Europa Cafe or Pret-a-Manger. You choose from sandwiches, salads, soups and desserts by chefs like Tyler Florence, Cat Cora, Mario Batali, Ben Ford or Charlie Trotter. They do dinner too, apparently, but by invitation only.

Today, on the penultimate day of the supper club, Mr. Aussie and I went to lunch there. We got there early, around 11:30 to avoid the midtown lunch rush and didn't have to wait in line at all. I ordered Cat Cora's Thai Chicken Salad Spring Roll and Ben Ford's Clam Chowder with Leek Cream and Applewood Smoked Bacon and Claudia Fleming's Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookie.

The clam chowder was my favorite item - really flavorful and not thick and heavy, like other clam chowders. The spring roll was really disappointing. Where was the dipping sauce? Also, this spring roll was the size of a burrito. Not very Asian at all. The brownie cookie was good too--moist like there was cream cheese in there--but ultimately, I've had better food elsewhere.

What really made the trip uptown worthwhile were a> the free Bon Appetit tote bag, b> the free copy of the November issue of Bon Appetit Magazine, c> the sample Ghiradelli chocolate squares and finally d> the gorgeous space. When you first walk in, you order your food, cafeteria style and pay.

Then you walk into the dining room, where they do cooking demos while you eat. The only problem is you couldn't really see what the chefs were doing because they didn't have one of those reflective mirrors over the cooking station. The fairy forest decor was stunning, and I just loved the gas fireplaces and cozy lounge areas. Upstairs, there's a cookbook bar where you can browse cookbooks by the various featured chefs, a wine & cheese sample bar, Maybelline samples, Ghiradelli chocolate samples, and Gold Peak Tea samples (great tea, btw - a new line from Coca-Cola).

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