Spirit of 77 became an undersea cathedral for a night.
  • Spirit of '77 became an undersea cathedral for a night.

Din Din Supper Club, a long-standing and inventive pop-up dinner series, just wrapped their "Fin" menu (all seafood) in the currently-on-break Spirit of '77 space. The near-monthly dinners, designed by chef Courtney Sproule, are noteworthy for occurring in an unusual assortment of venues—such as outdoor nurseries and art galleries—and are as close as I've found around here to a Decadent dinner. (Go down that rabbit hole, and pick up Lurcan and Gray's eloquently dirty The Decadent Cookbook, if you can find it). For $85, the ticket included three inexhaustible passed appetizers, four generous mains of not-inexpensive fresh seafood, a dessert, an introductory pastis cocktail, and endless pourings of paired wines which insured nobody would go home hungry or needlessly sober. Considering what such bounty would run you at a standard establishment, it's quite a fair deal...factor in the unique and well-integrated themes the seasoned Ms. Sproule designs and these ephemeral occasions stand out as worthy dining investments.

In a city where great food is the norm, pop-ups like this raise the bar by attempting to set up, pull off, and tear down a fine dining experience in one or two evenings. In Din Din's case, the success of the endeavor was almost dizzying.

More photos and food recap after the jump...

The evenings menu, heavy on the arcane herbs.
  • The evening's menu, heavy on the arcane herbs.

A quaffable gazpacho enriched with almonds. I had three.
  • A quaffable gazpacho appetizer, enriched with chopped almonds as small and tender as the teeth of an unborn lepidopterist.

In the empty and cathedral-like '77, sixteen diners sat awash in evening light and personal space—the feeling not unlike that of the grand dining room of an ocean liner—against a Niagara-sized backdrop of The Poseidon Adventure (1972 - starring Ernest Borgnine and Gene Hackman for the twelve minutes during which they were handsome). An interesting procession of under-sung herbs flavored the mains: amaranth with loup de mer, a hyssop cream and sorrel salad with the rare salmon, a borage granita on the raw ahi, a nasturtium pesto on the scallop...all worthy alternatives to tarragon and dill when penning your next seafood menu. The stand-out dish of the evening was a tender sauteed scallop in a clear, warm tomato water—a broth that sounds painfully healthful but came over somehow more rich and intensely flavorful than the fruit itself. Sproule's veteran kitchen team turned out clever dish after clever dish, and while some grumbled that portions were too big here (?), too highly-seasoned there, the only thing I found tiresome was trying to find fault in a goddamn good dinner.

Sproule says some future Din Dins will feature a more accessible $45 price point, so keep an eye on their site for upcoming events.

Menu: Din Din Fin

Passed appetizers, in generous supply:

Spot prawns & gazpacho
Mussel tortilla espagnola
Cod fritters & sherry aoili

Seated courses, in perhaps too-generous portions (?), if that is a concept:

Ahi crudo with cucumber borage grantia
Tomato water & scallop with nasturtium pesto
Salmon with gooseberry hyssop cream & sorrel salad
Loup de mer with fresh garlic, amaranth, & fennel new potato salad
Lavender verbena ice cream & saffron shortbread

Generous pours of interesting, matched wines were provided by Kelly Swenson, bartender-about-town.