After two very difficult years for restaurants and dining out, I’m pleased to share an unexpected and unique bright spot recently. Last year, I happened to see a mention of a new underground supper club called Txa Txa (like “cha cha”) Club in Logan Square, my old neighborhood, with experimental menus that changed every month. As they put it, “Supper Club is about creating something dreamy and playful, intentional yet whimsical; for turning the rules inside out, questioning the long-held paradigms of hospitality and reimagining them on our own turf and terms.” I took a closer look at some of the photos and was stunned to realize that the venue, their home, was the very same apartment I lived in for years, first with my roommate and then later on my own. I knew we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have this special dining experience in a place that held countless significant memories.
This month, it worked out to attend one of the twice-monthly dinners. It was a celebration of early spring, with vibrant colors and unexpected hints of sweetness in each dish.
We began with a brightly hued cucumber and aquavit cocktail as we took in the familiar living room surroundings that had been reinvented with plentiful candles, plants, books, and artistic touches. The trio of tea sandwiches made for a fun start, each a twist on the traditional version. My favorite was the spam, elevated by tangy pineapple mostarda.
Next was the soup course, a smooth and herby blend of fennel and walnut, with crispy leeks and apple that balanced each other nicely.
If I had to pick a highlight of the meal, it was the white asparagus salad course. The parsnip puree underneath was smoked using a wok, for gentle sweetness that went beautifully with the mild, first-of-the-season asparagus. The mix of textures and the complexity from the almond, egg, and caper with the smoky puree made it really stand out.
The fourth course also combined unexpected flavors: a squid ink pasta, filled with striking magenta beet-ricotta filling and dressed in a foamy coconut milk with added brininess from fish sauce. So, ravioli with a Southeast Asian flavor profile – creative and delicious.
And finally, a dessert that pushed boundaries by essentially combining ice cream and sungold tomatoes. I was admittedly just a bit skeptical, but the combination of nutty, creamy, floral, and acidic was absolutely a successful note to end on.
This dinner was truly a full-circle moment, and I’m grateful to have been part of the next chapter in a beloved former home.