For most of the spring, chef Brian Garvison has had his hands full as part of the team opening Griffin’s Publick House in Rutland. With that gastropub now in its soft-opening stage, Garvison is turning his attention back to another passion — Vermont Underground Supper Club.
On June 28, the chef will hold the next of these under-the-radar, hours-long meals “someplace in north-central Vermont,” says Garvison, who announces each supper’s location and menu less than 24 hours ahead of time. The first event — at a private home in Quechee more than a year ago — was such a success that it spawned a string of dinners in Bethel, Woodstock and Windsor.
Garvison, who also works as a personal chef, grew up in Oregon and attended the Western Culinary Institute there. It was Portland’s underground dinners, “sometimes in cemeteries, sometimes in abandoned warehouses,” that inspired him to create his own supper club after he moved to Vermont.
Potential guests can register via Garvison’s Facebook page for the 10-course dinners, which cost between $150 and $220 per head. “It sounds steep, but it’s all the wine you can drink, all of the food you can eat,” Garvison says.
That food has included short-rib poutine, sous-vide Coho salmon with nitrogen-dipped fig powder and braised morels stuffed with fiddleheads and chèvre purée. “It’s often the kind of food that only foodies or the people who want to explore like; things you can’t usually serve or sell because of the bottom line,” Garvison says. He often taps local providers such as Rutland’s Hathaway Farm and Cambridge’s Boyden Farm for ingredients.
While the underground dinners are sporadic, Garvison’s food may not always be so fleeting. The chef has his sights on a brick-and-mortar restaurant, possibly near Middlebury or Charlotte.
“I really want to open something up and have it become a destination,” Garvison says. For now, though, fans of his cooking will have to watch his Facebook page for the next when and where.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Supping on the Down-Low"