Photography by Catherine Downes.

First Bite

A Look Inside Don’t Tell Supper Club

Magicians, and burlesque, and red snapper. Oh my.

I was unsure of what to expect from Don’t Tell Supper Club. The press materials boasted a 10,000-square foot space spread over two stories with a 120-seat dining room and a stage “decked out with top-of-the-line sound and lighting.” Chef Tre Wilcox, who worked as a consultant for the project, “created a theatrical, whimsical menu to complement the space.” And “at 11 p.m., Don’t Tell transitions into a nightclub, complete with pulsing house music, dancing and revelry. Patrons will turn their eyes toward the stage, which on any given night will feature an array of circus acts, burlesque, aerialists and even hypnotists.”

I enjoy revelry as much as the next gal. And I wanted to see how a $48 Key West red snapper was going to mesh with sequined-clad burlesque dancers.

I was greeted by two hulking, well-groomed bouncers when I arrived at the restaurant at 10 p.m. one Friday, an hour shy of it turning into a nightclub. Once inside, a hostess in a black minidress escorted me to my table―which had been reserved by a friend. Reservations are encouraged here. I was seated in a booth left to the stage, illuminated by violet spotlights. The space reminded me of a smaller, kitsch-adorned House of Blues. Crimson curtains cascade from the ceiling and drape across exposed brick walls. A row of chandeliers encased in bird cages sway over the bar. Multicolored mirrors embellished with feathers and jewels reflect highly-saturated party lights. Flashy knick-knacks fill shelving units. It’s like somebody handed Baz Luhrmann a substantial wad of cash and a glue gun.

I was the first to arrive and after receiving my drink—the Green Eggs and Ham: tequila, jalapeño cucumber purée, St. Germain, served with a candied bacon garnish—was approached by a young, scraggly magician. He performed a card trick and then another with rubber bands. At one point a burst of flames erupted from his wallet. It was no Magic Castle performance, but he was charming, and I was amused.

The Most Unusual Tea.

Once the rest of my party arrived, we ordered more drinks. One friend got the Trainspotting: Cana Brava and Gosling’s rums, orange juice, pineapple, coconut, and lime. A highball glass brimming with orange juice, ice, and an oversized syringe filled with red liquor slid across the table. She placed the medical device to her lips and pushed down on the plunger. “It feels like red hot Bacardi 151 in my mouth!” she gasped, wiping her lip with the top of her hand. Turns out the liquid from the syringe is meant to be deposited in the glass and mixed in with the juice. Once she did that, the cocktail transformed into a sweet and boozy punch. Another friend ordered A Most Unusual Tea: a gin, cucumber, and camomile brew that’s served with dry ice. The smoky effect is whimsical, but I couldn’t stop thinking about a story I read a couple of years ago about a woman in England who had to have her stomach surgically removed after drinking a cocktail with liquid nitrogen in it. That stuff can be dangerous when not served properly. The drink was herbal, slightly sweet, and straightforward despite its garish appearance. And nobody went to the hospital.

Ceviche.

The food, like the drinks, is served with over-the-top props and garnishes. Ceviche is presented in a martini glass next to a silver octopus statue. The previously mentioned Key West red snapper comes alongside a giant, pink fish carcass on a wooden board. A white ceramic plate loaded with kale, shaved brussels, Swiss chard, and snapper, landed next to it. The fish was tender and lean. The flesh was mild, with most of the flavor coming from a soy sesame glaze. I shoveled it into my mouth as I watched a woman in a red sequined leotard twirl three silver hula-hoops around her body on stage to some modern techno rendition of Ace of Base’s “All That She Wants.” I don’t know.

We didn’t stick around for the nightclub portion of the night, but I have a feeling the people who did enjoyed themselves. The crowd here was energetic and engaged in the over-the-top theatrics of the experience. Sharp whistles and howls from shadow-covered tables erupted throughout the evening as the entertainment on the stage rotated. (A man on a cyr wheel was a notable crowdpleaser.)

I left feeling overstimulated and mildly confused. Then again, that could have had something to do with the potency of the beverages. Don’t Tell Supper Club may not be my cup of dry-ice-infused Unusual Tea, but it certainly seemed to have had an audience that night.

Comments

  • Jessica Iola

    I’m confused by this article. How do you do a story on a weird restaurant/bar that turns into a nightclub with burlesque and magicians, and NOT stay for the nightclub part? What’s the point of this article then? Am I supposed to be expected to go to a place at 10 PM for Red Snapper and not stay for the entertainment?? Is there a part 2 to this article? Again, I’m very confused.

    • Catherine Downes

      I talk about the food, cocktails, scene, and entertainment. Just didn’t stick around to dance. I’m sorry you’re confused.