Are you an ‘underground dinner virgin’? Perhaps you’ve been following the crowd goss’ about ‘known’ and ‘trendy’, without stepping away from the spotlight for a real adventure?
Then why not consider taking a trip on the wild side! Grab a friend and book a foodie adventure, such as a popup dinner. There are many varieties on the Coast or just beyond: enjoy a popup in a known restaurant (such as Le Café Gourmand), a meal in the home of a stranger or in a local park (Goldtoast Supper Club), a regional celebratory food event (Kingscliff’s Long table Dinner or Scenic Rim’s Eat Local Week), or a Chef’s Table dinner with a well-known chef in a commercial kitchen (Progressive Catering).
Still unsure? Let me tell you about our recent adventure: a Chef’s Table dinner with Progressive Catering – one of several types of events they hold from time to time.
We set off with an address and a time, embarking on an evening where we would know nobody initially, yet sure we’d find friends before the night was through. Bound together by a common interest in food (and most probably wine), we’re willing to take the risk of a fresh experience, yet one bound up in mystique. Who will you meet? What’s on the menu? So many questions! But facing the unknown is all part of the adventure!
Progressive Catering’s popup is held in their commercial kitchen in an industrial area of Southport, with plenty of parking in streets nearby. Greeted by staff at the door and handed a complimentary glass of champagne, we mingle and talk to other diners before being seated. Chef Trent Morgan presides, with Chef Chris in the wings. They’re focussed on the food, but there’s always time to meet and greet, treating regulars to a chat and hug. To these guys, catering for sixty diners is a breeze, Trent having done large event catering for a cast of thousands at Movie World and on cruise ships.
Canapés are served as we stand: peanut-coated Pork Magnums on popsicle sticks, Tempura Rosemary and seven spiced pumpkin puffs (my favourites!), and Salmon mousse crostini with caramelised onion and radish.
The kitchen lies at one end of the warehouse, the rest of the venue cleverly converting into a restaurant with the addition of tables, chairs and styling by Breeze Events. Bottlebrush and Rosemary grace the tables, a visual reminder that we’ll be served Australian ingredients cooked by French methods.
The idea of a Chef’s Table is that you can see what’s going on, with the chef explaining the dishes and answering questions about the meal. There’s plenty of action to keep us going between courses, as we make friends with neighbouring diners, chat about the wine you brought along, watch the cooking action or plating up, and have a chat to the chef.
The menu’s served in an alternate drop, leading to serious food envy when there are favourites on the menu. It’s difficult to share my entrée, a Roast cauli velvet cino with parmesan and truffle. Made from scratch with a collagen-laced stock, the Chicken and Vegie Minestone is no slouch, cute served warehouse style in tiny tins with a slight sacrifice to its flavour.
Main course continued the Mediterranean theme, making great use of lesser known cuts: Beef shin Stroganoff with mushrooms and a brown rice pilaf, and Lamb shoulder cassoulet served with butter beans and sweet potato. They’re rustic country-style dishes, typical of French regional cuisine, the lamb served in a gratin dish.
Time for dessert: the Fig, ricotta and almond clafoutis, served with port-infused whipped cream, is delicious enough, but I’ve been watching Chris flame the stunning Orange and Rosemary Crème Brulée, and from the first delectable spoonful, it’s a downright winner!
Physically, we may have been sitting among strangers in a warehouse, but we’ve travelled a culinary journey into the French countryside, each step explained by the chef.
It’s only one journey that we’ve embarked on at the Chef’s Long Table, but we are left in no doubt about Trent’s versatility. As Trent says: “It is a great opportunity for locals to try some catering for an upcoming event, while being entertained.”
Check out Progressive Catering’s future events on their website.
2/8 Pirelli St, Southport Ph: 1300 182 121
Dinner Cost: $75 per person BYO Alcohol
Disclaimer: Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of Progressive Catering.