Edible Brooklyn isn’t affiliated with the Brooklyn Edible Social Club, but after experiencing the year-old supper club whose name is so similar to ours, we rather wish we were.
Andres Valbuma is the founder, chef and mastermind behind the underground dinner parties hosted a few times a month for about a dozen paying diners at a borrowed house in south Brooklyn, though he’ll also come to you. And while just about every other secret supper club in town also serves Greenmarket ingredients in a black-market business model, don’t dismiss this outfit as one more group of kids playing restaurant for a night.
Valbuma chefed at revered restaurants in his native Spain before cooking at the Meadowoods Resort in Napa and Thomas Keller’s venerated French Laundry, each boasting many Michelin stars. He moved east three years ago to work for Gordon Ramsay’s eponymous ultrafine dining spot in Manhattan, but gave himself a deadline of a year to start a supper club, which he held in his Crown Heights apartment before finding an amenable friend with a better dining room.
The food’s what you’d expect from that résumé: a little cup of sweet-salty parsnip and miso soup topped with wilted wild mushrooms; a seared wedge of local mackerel with kimchi and kale; or roasted Hudson Valley duck with whipped apple, mustard greens and maple syrup jus; and eggnog crème brulée all served with an explanation of their provenance and Valbuma’s radiant smile.
The five-course suppers—on par with any you’d eat off of white tablecloths in Brooklyn, if Brooklyn restaurants used such things—are the kind you’ll likely one day brag that you ate way back when they were just $65 a pop. (Keep the menu as evidence: They’re little works of art created by Valbuma’s girlfriend, a graphic designer.)
In addition to dinner, he does $35 brunches and $80-a-head private parties. Even in winter, Valbuma plans his menus after Saturday trips to his favorite farm stands at the Grand Army or Fort Greene Greenmarkets, carting the bounty home on an overloaded bicycle: “I look like a dorky Frenchman,” he laughs. Along with his serious skill at the stove, one of Valbuma’s most winning qualities is his easygoing enthusiasm, not just for the farmers who grow the ingredients he finds, but for us and our reactions when we eat them.
“They try a trout that’s really good, or a cheese that’s awesome,” says Valbuma of his diners, “and they say ‘oh my God, it’s really good, where did you get this?’” And that, he says, is exactly the question he’s cooking for.
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