Wine & dine your evening away at a secret location
There is a new dining experience that has popped up in the middle of the sprawling suburbia of Sydney. It is not located in a restaurant and it is not located in the home of some celebrity chef. Popped Up - An "Underground" Eatery is located at a secret address and the location of your underground dining experience will only be revealed once you confirm your booking - this my friends is suburban guerilla dining.
I was lucky enough to be invited to dine on the evening of Popped Up's 100 Years of ANZAC themed dinner. All of my interaction with the hosts was via social media. I confirmed my attendance along with my guests via Facebook,and a little while later the hosts replied with the time and address of the dinner. A table setting was also sent to me so that I could choose where we all sat. It's communal dining at Popped Up - you sit at the same table as everyone else and it's a fabulous way to meet new people.
When the door opened I was welcomed by the gregarious hosts and also the most amazing smell wafting from the kitchen - instantly I knew I was in for a great night. I was then shown into the dining room (normally the dinners are held al fresco but the weather had been atrocious that day) and soon the other diners arrived. The dining table had been styled beautifully, with candles, red poppies and tiny rosemary bushes - perfect for an ANZAC day dinner.
After a quick meet and greet with all the guests, the hosts explained a little about themselves, the menu and how the evening would pan out. The hosts are not qualified chefs, just passionate cooks that love to entertain.The 5 course menu that they created was inspired by our ANZAC day traditions. By the way, Popped Up is completely BYO, so you can bring along your favourite drop and either share it with other guests or drink it all by yourself.
Swagman's Damper with Akudjura Relish, Asparagus & Goats Cheese
The meal started with an Amuse Bouche - Rosemary Potato on Garlic Cream. This little delight came on a small ladle and it most certainly titillated the taste buds! The cream was so smooth and it combined perfectly with the crunchy ball of potato. The Entrée was equally delicious - a small round of Damper was topped with Akudjura (bush tomato) Relish, Asparagus and Goats Cheese. For our Main course we ate Wattleseed & Lemon Myrtle Crusted Lamb with Beetroot Mousse and Kumara Chips. The perfectly cooked lamb was served medium rare (you can request for it to be cooked longer if you prefer). The sweetness of the beetroot mousse combined beautifully with the spices on the lamb. The kumara crisps along with the leaves of Brussels sprouts made for an artful presentation of the dish.
I think the stand out for me on the night was the Pre-Dessert. It was not that it tasted better than any of the other courses, it was the thought that had gone into the presentation. The menu said that it was a Mini Lamington Bite. However it was presented as a poppy on a white tile. The delicious little lamington was the black centre of the poppy and a red cupcake wrapper made up the petals. A smear of chocolate was the stem and a couple of micro pieces of basil were the leaves.
Obviously ANZAC day is not only about Australia, but also about our friends across the Tasman. So in respect to them, pavlova featured in the dessert (yes we all know that it really is an Aussie invention). Anyway the Pavlova Passion Parfait was decadent. Layers of jelly, cream, meringue and ANZAC cookie crumble made up this amazing end to our meal.
A month before each event, the Popped Up team release the next menu. If it takes your fancy, you need to get in quickly and advise them on their Facebook page that you want to go. Get a group of friends and go together or just be brave and go by yourself - everyone I met on the evening were so friendly. It's actually quite fun wining and dining with strangers! If you have specific dietary requirements please let the hosts know when you book and if you have older children that you would like to take along, they can also tailor a menu specifically for them.
The cost of this amazing meal was only $40.00! Where else in Sydney can you eat 5 courses for that price? Combine that with being able to bring along your own wine with no corkage fee and I think you could safely call this Sydney's cheapest 5 star meal. To book your own underground dining experience, check out Popped Up's Facebook page and also follow them on Instagram. Enjoy fellow guerrillas!