On Friday night — at the kind invitation of our friends Bow Tie Guy and Band Mom — Kish and I joined a small group for a memorable “participatory dining” experience at The Kitchen here in German Village. The Kitchen promises a participatory dining experience that “blurs the line between patron and chef.” In our case, that promise was kept — and I might add that the blurring was aided by a number of very well-chosen bottles of wine that our group consumed with relish before and during food prep and then with our meal.
First, a word or two about the setting and the concept. The Kitchen is located in an historic building that was a department store, and later a cheesy video store, on Livingston Avenue. The building was acquired by two passionate female foodies who were able to see past the video store bric-a-brac to envision a space where people can have fun cooking, and then eating. The result is a choice setting, with the original high, pressed design tin ceilings and brightly polished hardwood floors, long tables made from refinished barn siding, and a high-end, fully kitted out, restaurant grade kitchen.
When our little band arrived, we gathered around the charcuterie platter and were served an excellent wine — the first of many fine wines deftly chosen by the proprietors to specifically complement what we were eating at the time. The proprietors described the courses — a salad, garlic shrimp, a chicken dish accompanied by fingerling potatoes and eggplant, and finally a raspberry white chocolate tart — and offered us our choice of food prep tasks. The “participatory” part of our dining experience was about to begin.
Kish and I decided to do the salad, which seemed to be fraught with the least downside risk from an edibility standpoint. We donned our aprons and promptly learned the first lesson of The Kitchen experience: it’s fun to cook, particularly when you have the ingredients laid out in advance, have the appropriate knives and implements available, and have a friendly expert at your elbow guiding you through the food prep process. We chopped our salad fixins without losing any fingertips, blended our salad dressing, then roamed the room to watch other people at their food prep stations.
And there we learned lesson number two: many people can really cook, and take pride in producing quality consumables. Our fellow patron-chefs, such as The Honeybee pictured here, carefully followed instructions, performed their tasks with good cheer, and juggled their wine glasses while brushing and basting and sauteeing their hearts out. Ultimately, the proof of the pudding was in the tasting — every dish and course of the meal was absolutely delicious. Our simple salad with olives and peppers and a garlic dressing was tasty, but was promptly blown out of the water by the shrimp, the chicken, the potatoes, the veggies, and the dessert, as well as the wine selections. Kish and I accepted that not-unexpected result with equanimity and full stomachs.
I’d recommend The Kitchen to anyone who wants to have a fun foodie experience. And if you would rather not participate directly, The Kitchen offers Taco Tuesday, where the experts do the prep and patrons get to just drop in and gobble down the results.