The idea of the supper club — getting together with a group of friends and strangers to enjoy a prix-fixe dinner with a bottle of your own wine — is starting to take root in Wine Country.
Less swanky than a Prohibition-era speakeasy, but with a similar mystique and insider allure, the dinners have popped up at community halls across the county, from Sonoma to Healdsburg to Monte Rio.
"The whole idea is that it's an affordable night on the town," said Dan Lucia of DL Catering, who launched the Healdsburg Food and Wine Club four years ago. "People know when to arrive and where to park, so it has that club aspect."
The community suppers, organized around themes that range from wine varietals and cuisines to sustainable chefs and farmers, often offer extra entertainment in the form of live music, contests and other interactive activities.
"There's a nice, warm, town feel about it," said Peter Andrews, who launched the Monte Rio Supper Club four months ago at the Monte Rio Community Center. "It's very homey ... and you meet everybody in town that way."
At the Sonoma Community Center, The Community Table series brings chefs and guests together in the newly remodeled Rotary Community Kitchen on a monthly basis, in the winter and spring.
"We pair local, sustainable chefs with winemakers," said Liz Treacy, the center's program manager. "The chefs can talk to the guests while they're cooking."
At the newly opened Shed in Healdsburg, Sunday Suppers are held in the upstairs "grange hall" on the fourth Sunday of the month. The pop-up dinners are based on a variety of themes, from local farms to all-American "pie."
While the meals at supper clubs are served casually, either family-style or buffet service, the chefs go all out for the food preparation.
Earlier this month, Mike Matson of Vintage Valley Catering in Healdsburg served up a menu of Roasted Local Chicken, Romaine Dressed with White Balsamic and Goat Cheese, Crazy Beans with Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Grilled Sourdough and Strawberry Cherry Parfaits for the Monte Rio dinner.