Do you hear ringing? That’s the dinner bell, and you’ll want to report quickly. Dinner Lab, which offers unique pop-up dining experiences, has arrived in town.
Begun three years ago in New Orleans, Dinner Lab has expanded to 31 cities. Diners purchase a $125 annual membership to receive notifications on upcoming dinners. Every five-to-seven-course dinner is themed, curated and cooked by a different chef for two seatings of 120 guests. If the menu looks mouthwatering, buy tickets ($55-70) and bring along up to 3 guests. The ticket covers tip, tax and meal cost.(There are complimentary cocktails.) Currently, Pittsburgh boasts better membership than Dallas, Boston or Philly, selling out the last dinner in 12 hours.
Last week, chef Justin Thompson, of Nashville, presented a “Southern Hospitality” meal, at the Mine Factory art gallery, in Point Breeze. (Dinner locations are unorthodox, and only announced the day before.) The communal tables encouraged conversation, and a large industrial fan kept the warm summer air pleasantly circulating.
The inventive tone of the five-course menu was set early: The first course was a delicate and briny scallop crudo balanced nicely by compressed watermelon. Two other outstanding courses were the rainbow trout, with its perfectly crispy and beautiful pigmented skin, and the peach cobbler (with pink peppercorn crème Anglaise), which Thompson explained was an homage to his mother.
Clearly, Pittsburgh diners have exciting things to look forward to from Dinner Lab.
Note: This article was edited online to correct an error regarding how alcohol was served.