Even though Chef Dave Santos’s secret dinner clubs have been mentioned on the New York Times and BlackBook websites, have their own Facebook page, and are openly discussed on Chowhound and Mouthfuls, you still feel like you’re privy to something pretty special when you reserve a seat at one of these intimate dinners and receive your e-mail confirmation with directions to the private location on Roosevelt Island. I always say that there are no hidden gems in NYC because the ubiquitous review sites inevitably expose them within weeks of opening, but this is fine dining that’s literally hidden.
All of my food-eatin’ friends had been to Um Segredo–Portuguese for “a secret”–months before my boyfriend and I finally went with our pal Nik, but I’m pretty sure we picked the best dinner possible for our first one: the one with the beer pairings. Each course was served with beer home-brewed by Chef Santos’s roommate, and all of the proceeds from the dinner went toward his future brewpub. Between the painstakingly prepared beer and the menu imagined by a former Per Se and Bouley chef, there was no way we were going to walk away disappointed by this dinner. In fact, we brought more friends with us to our second Santos-hosted dinner, and we’re bringing even more friends with us to tonight’s Um Segredo. Everyone wants in on the secret and the opportunity to watch this chef at work.
Here’s a reminder of our first great experience to get our stomach juices flowing:
One Dude Brew
Chef Santos called this butter. And then after we’d all tasted it, he told us it was lard. And then we all slathered much, much more of it on our bread.
moules frites (mussels & fries)
crispy duck salad, banana puree, spring rice
fish-n-”chips”, mushy peas, tempura carrot
pork belly, polenta cake, slaw, bbq sauce
spiced molten chocolate cake, vanilla gelato
So good I can still taste it all these months later. It was less like cake and more like thick, hot puddingmousse.
Spanish Hipster and Mrs. Spanish Hipster social media-ing the meal
the moon rising over the Queensboro Bridge back into Manhattan
Put yourself on the Um Segredo mailing list, and I’ll see you at the next one.