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Bread & Circus updates the ages-old Supper Club concept

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Austin photo: News_Bread & Circus_Dessert
Bread pudding and white port Courtesy of Bread & Circus Supper Club
Austin photo: News_Bread & Circus_Voulet
The Supper Club at Palm Door Courtesy of Bread & Circus Supper Club
Austin Photo Set: News_Mike_Supper Club_September 2011_table
Supper Club table settings Photo by Michael Graupmann
Austin Photo Set: News_Mike_Supper Club_September 2011_artist
Artist Vincent Martinez Photo by Michael Graupmann
Austin photo: News_Bread & Circus_Dessert
Austin photo: News_Bread & Circus_Voulet
Austin Photo Set: News_Mike_Supper Club_September 2011_table
Austin Photo Set: News_Mike_Supper Club_September 2011_artist
Austin photo: News_Bread & Circus_Chef Schumacher

When you hear the term "supper club," you might have visions of Veterans Halls filled with U.S. servicemen enjoying all-you-can-eat fish fries and carousing about WWII.

In Austin, the supper club model is enjoying a modern revival through the clever efforts of Pink Avocado Catering and art space/event venue, Palm Door.

Combining local art, a four-course menu, paired wines and cocktails, and plenty of good company, the Bread & Circus Supper Club kicked off Wednesday night at Palm Door to the delight of a full house of satisfied patrons.

Without much precedence on which to refer, my dinner companion and I showed up at Palm Door, hungry and excited for whatever surprises we were in for that evening. At the bar, the tattooed bartenders served up cantaloupe cooler cocktails, while friendly servers made the rounds with cucumber-honey popsicles. We mingled with some of the other patrons as we cooled down from the outdoors and checked out the fun art work on display throughout the venue.

Michael Owens of Revolving Door Gallery organized the artwork for the evening, and the artist, Vincent Martinez, was in attendance as well. We discovered Martinez is also a local rapper and stage performer, which informs his kinetic visual style of painting. His bright splashes of color and abstract forms created an electric backdrop for the evening's events, highlighting the vibrancy of the menu still to come.

Chef Brenton Schumacher, the owner of Pink Avocado, developed an astounding four course menu with paired wines for the evening's pop-up restaurant. Seated at long tables with full place settings, we happily journeyed down the presented placecard menus, one course at a time. One by one, servers replaced and refilled glasses and deposited the hand-prepared and perfectly portioned plates.

We began with an appetizer of corn velouté with seared scallops and crackers spread with chive chantilly creme. The velvety sauce was bursting with flavor, and the chantilly—normally used in pastries—was infused with chives for a nice herby addition to the first course. The crisp chardonnay/viognier blend it was paired with was also my favorite wine of the evening.

The second course was a very pretty compresssed watermelon arrangement topped with crispy pork, red onion and mint. I'm not typically a fan of watermelon, but you better believe I ate all I had on my plate. The combination of flavors, the savory, sweet and tart, balanced perfectly when you got a little bit of everything in each bite. The paired wine was unexpectedly a rosé, which I would have never thought to have seen outside of my mother's liquor cabinet; but, again, we loved it.

The entree was a collection of lamb ribs and lamb chops, arranged over a serving of sweet potato greens and purple potatoes. This was my first time really enjoying lamb, and my first time receiving any meat served as a lollipop. My dinner companions couldn't help but mention how much they felt like the hosts of Top Chef receiving this sort of treatment. (I was happy to play Padma Lakshmi in this scenario.) Chef Schumacher paired this course with a tangy shiraz, and this was the moment we noticed how much wine we'd been served throughout the evening...

The final course was the perfectly sized dessert of bread pudding and homemade almond ice cream paired with an extremely sweet white port. This was maybe the best ice cream I've ever had both in taste and texture, and combining it with warm bread pudding made everything in the world make sense for a while. We saw a few folks at our table dabbing the port directly on to the ice cream, and suddenly we reached a new level of clarity. When the chef came out from the kitchen, the room erupted in applause and everyone toasted his endeavors. 

Even after iced coffee and homemade lemon biscotti, we realized the arduous task of getting home was another hour outside of our grasp. We discussed the success of the event further with Owens and Martinez and agreed upon the necessity of getting back to the next Bread & Circus event as soon as possible.

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Pink Avocado will be hosting future Bread & Circus events once a month at Palm Door. With the success of this first event, tickets will likely sell out quickly so make sure to watch their blog or the Facebook page to see when they'll announce the next one.

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