After spending last week describing how the term “supper club” is code for an unsanctioned restaurant, I now am forced to present a completely legitimate and on-the-level supper club.
The Supper Club @ Real Food Nation is a new and welcome venture from the drive-through, cafeteria-style joint near the intersection of Old Las Vegas Highway and Highway 285. Real Food Nation has served as one of Santa Fe’s chief epicenters for local, sustainable and thoughtful cuisine for the past couple of years.
Utilizing an entirely different dining room from Real Food Nation, the Supper Club is an altogether swankier affair. The food shed sensibility and commitment to carefully sourced ingredients that Blyth Timken, Andrew MacLauchlan and Kim Müller adhere to at Real Food Nation is, if anything, even more evident at the Supper Club. The refinement of the seasonally shifting fare allows the strength of every component to come through. The menu is divided by small plates and big plates, and includes a couple of side-dish options. It’s mercifully focused.
A spinach salad ($10) with pancetta, red onion and feta with a red wine vinaigrette had me worried. I was expecting bitterness and a low-brow Greek salad collision of onion and feta, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Topped with a fresh, perfectly poached egg, the salad was smooth and the ingredients complementary. Paired with one of MacLauchlan’s well-proportioned, organic flour ciabatta rolls, it was perfect.
I used what was left of the roll to sop up the juices from a small dish of sautéed morels and fava beans ($12), which put me in the right mood for a square of pork belly nestled in a ragout of carrot, fennel bulbs and more fresh fava beans ($13). Having already eaten more than one lifetime’s fair share of pork belly, I had no idea it could be so thoroughly tender, especially beneath a wafery, flaky crust.
A plate of bright, garlic-laced tagliatelle wrapped things up and carried me to the ideal point of food sedation without becoming burdensome. The bites that I stole from one friend’s pork chop entrée ($22) and another’s braised-overnight lamb shoulder ($24) left me weepy with jealousy. It’s not that I wished I had ordered their plates instead but, rather, that I developed a sudden longing for a system of modular, attachable stomachs.
I could go on about the overall success of the Supper Club, but there are more important things to talk about. Real Food Nation and Supper Club chef Müller needs a kidney—not for Supper Club, but for her own body. As good as Supper Club is, it’s not going to make Müller rich anytime soon, and a kidney transplant and the related recovery make an expensive proposition. Writer and generally adored personality about town Nouf Al-Qasimi has conspired with Amavi, La Casa Sena, The Compound, Rio Chama, Vinaigrette and a menagerie of other entities to host a benefit for Müller.
Not only will the farmers-market-inspired dinner prepared by all those restaurants be more than worth the suggested $75 contribution to attend the Rio Chama event, but the money will give something tangible and well-deserved back to one of Santa Fe’s food luminaries. Several sumptuous and surprising items will be on auction, as well, to raise additional funds.
Follow SFR food news on Twitter: @eating_wrong