Recipe: Underground Dinner

Serves about 12.

You will need:

-One small Wrigleyville apartment
-Crappy IKEA tabletops on makeshift legs with several floor cushions for seating
-One tiny kitchen with an ill-placed and undersized sink.
-Whatever utensils, pots and pans your single, college-aged friends can scrape together.
-One portable dishwasher with a much-too-small bucket as a drain.
-One outside deck for frying, grilling and squeegeeing bucket-loads of water out onto.
-One mailing list of 30-40 bold individuals who just might be interested in sitting on the floor of your apartment for 3 hours while you cook your heart out for them.
-A collection of mismatched thrift store plates and IKEA wine glasses.
-Downstairs neighbors who drink too much to care that you’re running a culinary speakeasy right above their heads.
-A small group of like-minded individuals to assist you in your ridiculously ill-advised venture.
-One tarp and one jug of gasoline for easy clean-up.


Spend 15 years studying culinary arts and working in kitchens.  Move to Chicago.  Look around your apartment one day and decide to turn it into a restaurant.  Make a Myspace page (Google Myspace if needed).  Enlist anyone you know with skills in cooking, graphic design, photography and event planning.  Choose a location-ambiguous name to hide behind.  Invite guinea pigs to eat at your inaugural dinner.  Cook whatever the hell you think is awesome at the moment and hope others think so too.  Begin selling tickets and going all out for every junket.  Fake it.  Start thinking you know what you’re doing and constantly get reminded that you really don’t.  Decide to keep making it up as you go along.  Pull your hair out.  Meet awesome people and try to cook them good food.  Wait for the police to show up –they probably won’t.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Season to taste and serve while hot.


The very first X-marx dinner took place in Chef Abraham’s Wrigleyville apartment.  It was called X-mas X-travaganza and was a free dinner just to try out the concept and see if we could pull it off even once.  So, we made up a menu and invited some close friends and really tried to do it as if it were a real restaurant.  It was a great night, actually, and a fond memory.  This was also the first time Chef Adrienne came to dinner, and the last time she came as just a guest.

The crew that night:  Chef Abraham Conlon, Mathew Kutz.

The First X-marx Menu Ever:

Chicken + Prawn = Meatloaf: Chicken and Prawn Terrine, Meyer Lemon and Tapenade.
Caesar Salad: Cream of Romaine Soup, Anchovy, Brioche, Pickled Garlic.
Canned Spinach: Canned “Popeye” Salad, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Bleu D’Auverne, Fried Shallot.
Turducken: Bistro Style, Pommery Mustard, Cornichon, Frisee.
Veggie Tacos:  Tortilla Chip Polenta, Radish, Mandarin, Avocado, and Corn Emulsion.
Coq Au Can:  Beer Can Chicken, Guinness Jus, Trumpet Mushroom.
Meat Pie: Braised Beef Cheek, Parsnip Puree, Pastry Crust.
Root Beer Float: Chocolate Chili Ice Cream.
Wacky Mignardise: Weird jelly-filled plastic sharks and fish from an Asian Store.
 Fudge Mama: Marshmallow milk chocolate fudge made by Chef Abraham’s mother.
 Mama’s Nuts: (Off the menu) Adrienne Lo’s Famous Peanut Brittle.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Chef, what did you think the ceiling was for X-marx after that first dinner?”

“I don’t know… Getting busted by the cops?!”

Over the next month or two we’ll be posting all the old menus and talking about a few special dinners in particular, starting with whatever relics we could find from year one.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: