Is Dallas Finally Getting Into Guerrilla Dining?

Categories: Whimsy

dat.jpeg
David Anthony Temple, fresh from the underground
Underground dining and pop-up restaurants aren't anything new. The seemingly exclusive events have been gaining popularity in cities all over the country for years now, and in some cities you could dine out seven days a week and never set foot in a proper restaurant.

Dallas has been slower to the party. While David Anthony Temple has been cooking up underground meals in Dallas since 2009, he's for the most part the only consistent show in town. He currently serves up secret suppers in a semi-secret Deep Ellum location, but the dinners are only a staging ground for a new restaurant he's planning to open. When the doors of his new concept, called Twenty-Seven, open, his secret dinners will probably close.

Nicole Gossling used to work with Temple as his sous. Now she runs her own dinners, usually one a week and also in Deep Ellum. Gossling leverages her relationship with Urban Acres, a local organic market in Oak Cliff where she volunteers part-time, to secure some of her ingredients. The result is a menu that features as many local and organic ingredients as possible, Gossling says. Her latest, this weekend, adds a murder-mystery component -- a nod to Halloween.

These diners may not have a permanent address or restaurant associated with them, but they're hardly underground and they're not at all exclusive. Organizers in Dallas have worked tirelessly putting together formal email announcements and blasting them out to massive lists. Local blogs have given the events significant coverage, and Richard Chamberlain has enlisted a PR company to promote his latest, a two-night pop-up dinner in Addison featuring an $89 four-course menu.

Bar 828 is a new, temporary bar in Oak Cliff that will pop up for three weekends beginning tonight. This concept, forged by bartender Michael Martensen, has gotten attention from Crave, the Dallas Morning News and more. It's a stark contrast to other markets, where news of these events tends to travel by word of mouth, dinners are invite only, and if you're not in the know, you're not getting in.

But underground or not, the dinners are often worthy ventures. Most seat diners at massive communal tables, and the tone is more social than a typical restaurant. Strangers that wouldn't otherwise interact find themselves engaged in random conversation, and chefs are driven to be innovative and creative.

Dallas could use more of it, but the fact that it's happening at all is welcome -- a sign of a growing and improving food scene.


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13 comments
Jim
Jim

Never had guerilla.....I'll have try sometime.

St0ckTrader
St0ckTrader

Why is it that some of you insist on bashing those that are trying to do something different in this town?  Is it because you have nothing else better to do with your miserable lives than to sit around and point out any little fault that you can find?  Or are you just jealous that someone is actually out there doing something different?  I just don't get it.  DAT might not be a classically trained chef from Le Cordon Bleu (which he does not claim), but the guy knows how to cook and create great food! I have been to many of his dinners and have not been disappointed. DAT creates an atmosphere that makes dinning fun and enjoyable. I have met lots of interesting people and have made many new friends from attending his dinners.  Dallas needs more risk takers like DAT!     

Kerrie Sparks
Kerrie Sparks

Let's not forget 48 Nights, a project/concept worth mentioning here as well, no?  :)

oc citizen
oc citizen

48 nights was a huge hit and done on the up and up. As was the long table on bishop. DAT is a far cry from those efforts. I attended once and the food was amateur at best. That's putting it nicely. Talking about the food history in a town that you just got to is probably not the smartest move. Stick to your little dive bar reviews.

Borborygmus
Borborygmus

Listen Scott, while I'd like to agree that it indicates a "growing and improving food scene", it doesn't. What it does indicate is a certain desperation for entrepreneurs to express themselves, lacking any financial capital to conform to the "systematic requirements" for those operating a restaurant. DAT does not have to meet any food codes, pay for any licensing, remit any alcohol or sales taxes. It goes straight to his bottom line.

So fuck those who take the time, effort and money to do it the right way. The legal way. Glamour on.

Ted
Ted

He told you 2009?  Boy are you gullible.  Temple was working at Nosh as a server last year and has no kitchen experience. I tried one of his dinners and he was drunk and served us 3 hours late on Valentines Day. The child is weak and needs to either go to school or actually work in a kitchen before giving himself that title of chef.

Jonas M Luster
Jonas M Luster

Dallas needs less restaurateurs who think that horizontal expansion, opening more and more places, tacking on a chain, or spreading oneself thin between gigs is a good thing. It needs more humility before the food, more work in the back and less work in the media. Less businesspeople with their own brand of sauces at Central Market and more role model chefs who actually spend their days inside a kitchen, cooking. If Temple can deliver that there's no reason not to eat at his pop-ups or coming restaurant.

Scott Reitz
Scott Reitz

Completely disagree. We could talk correlation causation all day but cities with stronger restaurants typically have more robust underground or pop-up dining scenes. NY, Seattle, Houston, DC, Chicago -- they're everywhere. Here the scene is anemic, but as I said, starting to pick up. The conventional dining scene has been picking up over the years as well. I feel like Dallas is really gaining some steam.

As for the bottom line for most of these dinners, I would refrain from making it sound as though "chefs" clean house with these operations. Working in strange kitchens, inability to store and re-use ingredients and subsequently dishes, inability to sell alcohol (every one I've ever attended is BYOB) all make it pretty tough to make real money with this model. They aren't getting rich.

And as for legality? Come on man have some fun -- or did you drive the speed limit the whole way to work, come to a full stop at every stop sign and wait till you were 21 to have your first beer.

Datski
Datski

Chef in Honolulu, HI and San Diego, CA before starting Underground Dinners in Dallas. First one I did was at Spiceman's FM 1410 12.06.09 Yes I helped Avner open Nosh, yep helped him at Aurora too. Not in the kitchen but in FOH training service staff. V-day last year was served an hour late and for that I apologize. We waited for 5ppl that were running late and that was my call, maybe not the best one but oh well. for more info or to get on my email list contact me at dat@chefdat.com - peace, love, and food

Scott Reitz
Scott Reitz

I never called him Chef.

His cooking is undoubtedly green but I don't think going to school is necessary to become a professional in a kitchen. Many would argue it's an absolute waste of time.

Jonas M Luster
Jonas M Luster

What restaurants in Honolulu and San Diego did you work as chef at? I am not doubting you, just a little surprised that after a few years working in CA, North and South, and time in Honolulu I'd never heard of you before Dallas. Might be a shortcoming of mine, though.

Jonas M Luster
Jonas M Luster

Cooking school is more a detriment than a benefit. Not having a decade of experience working one's way up, that's the detriment. These days most anyone can call themselves "chef", what with nitwits called "Master Chef" without every having spent one weekend on the pass.

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