“The fondest memories are made when gathered around the table”
At least that is what the quote on the dining room wall at Gatherings Kitchen says. And I would have to agree.
Back on July 20, Todd and I, along with a couple of my co-workers, had our first Gatherings Kitchen experience. What is Gatherings Kitchen? It is “a warm, friendly and interactive cooking experience. It’s part restaurant, part cooking class, and part home.”
They pick a new menu every month, with a different theme. For our experience in July, we worked with the “American Road Trip” menu. They offer supper club cooking classes on Friday nights that accommodate 16 people. You can make reservations ahead of time, either for yourself or a group of friends.
We got there at 6:15 on a Friday night. We were lucky enough that despite how hot this summer has been, that particular night felt downright fall-like with temperatures in the high 60’s. I loved it. Especially since I was going to be in a kitchen cooking.
When you walk in off the street, you walk right into the beautiful dining room with a huge table set to match the theme of the menu. There is a beautiful chandelier that originally hung in Cowell & Hubbard back when it was a jewelry store.
You walk through the dining room and into the large commercial kitchen. There, they have stations set up with the different components that make up the meal. All the ingredients are pre-measured and the recipe is printed out next to the supplies.
Our menu for the evening was to be as follows:
- Mini Lobster Rolls
- Kansas City Barbecued Chicken Thighs
- Cedar Plank Salmon with Wild Mushroom Pierogi and Dill Cream
- Peach, Goat Cheese and Blueberry Molasses Vinaigrette with Candied Bacon
- Grilled Ribeye with Walla Walla Onion Rings, Warm Potato & Corn Salad and Steak Sauce
- Berry Crisp with Honey Whiskey Ice Cream
Todd and I walked around the kitchen and scoped out all the stations. Since my husband is not a huge fan of cooking and I was shocked that he had even agreed to this activity, I didn’t want to overwhelm him, so we chose the grilled peach salad station. I had also been told that if you select one of the less involved recipes, you would be done earlier and that would free us up to walk around and observe as everyone else was making the other dishes.
Gatherings Kitchen provides all the food as well as soda and water, but beyond that it is BYOB. Many people that night brought wine. As we all started cooking, people were drinking their wine and chatting and there was a general convivial atmosphere in the kitchen.
Once we finished cooking we started to make our way into the dining room. First up were our appetizers, the Kansas City barbecued chicken thighs and the mini lobster rolls. There are no set rules as to how many servings you are entitled to per se, but I will tell you that I more than ate my share of the lobster rolls. I couldn’t help it. Sweet, succulent chunks of lobster with fresh tarragon and lemon, on a buttered and grilled mini hot dog bun…There was no way I could stop at one. However I only had half of one of the chicken thighs, so I figure it all balances out.
After the appetizers, the chefs plate the entrées and start serving us one course at a time.
First we had the arugula salad with goat cheese and peaches. Mr. Lipps and I opted to slice the peaches and grill them which produced a lovely caramelized end result. This was paired with goat cheese and bacon crumbles. The dressing, which we also made, was odd but tasty. It consisted of white wine vinegar, shallots, dijon, blueberries, molasses and olive oil.
Next up was the cedar plank salmon with wild mushroom pierogi. The salmon was brushed with dijon mustard followed by a sprinkling of brown sugar. Having just made some cedar plank salmon at home, I found that the brown sugar in this recipe was unnecessary. It made the fish a little too sweet, in an artificial way and I didn’t feel that was needed. The pierogies, maybe because they were not made by professionals, were a little thick, the dough should have been rolled out a bit more. However, the filling was delicious.
Following that, we had the grilled ribeye with warm potato corn salad and walla walla onion rings. The chefs asked all of us how we wanted our steaks done and grilled them to order. As someone who does not enjoy her steak still mooing at her (go ahead, tell me I am a hillbilly for liking my steaks medium to medium-well) I appreciated this. Normally I have experienced that when meat is being cooked for a group, it is generally all made rare to medium-rare and I always find myself missing out. This was a welcome change. Also, at the risk of sounding like a snot, I usually only eat filet mignon. This is not because I am some sort of meat elitist, I just really cannot stomach the fat that comes with other cuts of meat. However, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this ribeye. There must have been some kind of voodoo. The warm potato corn salad was unremarkable and needed to be seasoned a bit more. The walla walla onion rings were amazing. They were light and crispy and although they had been fried, they were not heavily battered and did not have that deep fried taste.
By now we were all holding our stomachs and moaning and groaning about how full we were. But, we still had one last course.
This is the one that I knew, as a dessert professional, I would be most critical of. For our final treat, we had berry crisp and honey whiskey ice cream. The crisp was baked in individual ramekins. The oat crumble topping was a little hard to push my spoon through and overall, I didn’t love it. The ice cream however, was absolutely delicious. I would have gladly traded in my crisp for a bowl full of ice cream.
By the time we were done, it was about 10:30 and we had been there for 4 hours. To me, the time flew by. We were eating, chatting and laughing. At one point my friend Molly even got down on the floor to show my other friend’s husband how to do frog pose. You can’t buy that kind of entertainment.
I will definitely be going back to Gatherings Kitchen again for another culinary experience. If you would like to see additional pictures from this night, including the delicious food, click here.
Although the menus have not yet been published, here are their themes through November:
- August – India
- September – Spain
- October – Octoberfest
- November – Italy
I will definitely be doing Italy and may be interested in Spain as well. Who wants to go?