Mumbai’s secret supper clubs are the perfect destinations for foodies looking for company and cuisine in equal measure, discovers Reshma Krishnan Barshikar.
There was a time when all you wanted was a bar where everyone knew your name. Move over Cheers; going incognito is what it’s all about today, especially in India’s thriving commercial capital, Mumbai. The city’s growing secret supper club scene offers a place where you can reinvent yourself and spend an evening in blissful small talk with no obligations to ever meet again; a place where you can be completely yourself, or anything else you want to be. It’s like a culinary one night stand.
Secret suppers have become all the rage in Mumbai because, as Kanu Gupta, founder of Savor Experiences and host of Secret Supper, says, “the beauty of Bombay lies in its people and yet they never get a chance to connect.” The four-year-old Secret Supper project has been built around the element of surprise. Diners have to commit to an evening not knowing where it’s going to be held, what’s on the menu, and, of course, the company they’re about to keep.
But are you worthy? While it’s not about whom you know any more, extremely refreshing in a city like Mumbai where, ‘don’t you know who I am?’ had become so common it’s simply been replaced by a belligerent stare, it does depend on how you answer questions when you RSVP. The Secret Supper, for instance, asks that deceptively simple question, ‘if it’s your last meal on earth, what would it be?’ No right or wrong answer here but you can bet someone’s stewing a good half hour before they press ‘send’.
Turning Tables, an event hosted by the relentless punsters at Brown Paper Bag, goes one step further. You have to wax lyrical about yourself in a few lines and you’ll be ‘picked’ if they think you’re interesting enough. It feels like high school all over again, doesn’t it? Only here, it’s egalitarian in that no one cares if you have acne or your laces are the right kind of neon, and your rejection is blissfully private. An added bonus is that the dinners, if you get in, are free and BYOB.
With no standing space in bars, an opportunity to meet, and breathe a little, and perhaps even shake a leg with like-minded people, is an attractive proposition to not just singles, but couples who want to be part of a unique experience.
A World Alike, a private community that hosts events, boasts a waiting list of over 7,000 would-be diners. The ‘invitation only club’ is rolling out its own app in a couple of weeks and will prioritize referrals from current members. Think of it as a sophisticated version of Tinder that also throws great shindigs, a few limited only to singles as they account for a large portion of their membership. Turning Tables is quite clear they are not a singles event per se, even though they’re happy to have played cupid on occasion. They welcome all sorts, including the committed; you just need to leave the spouse at home.
What all of these unique concepts have in common though, is the belief that nothing makes us happier, or more talkative, than good food. While The Secret Supper likes to keep everything under wraps, Turning Tables has featured chefs from restaurants like The Fat Duck while Magazine Street Kitchen just hosted Italian TV star Cristian Borchi. And you don’t even have to jump through any hoops for that one; you can buy tickets to any Magazine Street Kitchen event online.
As fine dining becomes more ubiquitous, and the food less fine, it’s no surprise everyone wants to sit at the chef’s table and feel like you’ve been let into the best secret in the city, even if it’s just for the one night.
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