Food and drink – Salt Cellar Series
– by Rachel Fox
An otherwise grey, dull and rainy Tuesday evening was made much more lively after my dear friend, actor Mackenzie Grey, invited me to be his guest to a rather unusual evening of food, wine, socializing, and theatrics in the cellar at Salt Tasting Room.
To those in-the-know, Salt is very much the place to go – “To see and be seen.”
The long and narrow space, with its clean lines and exposed brick, harken back to an era when places were anointed with names like “Blood Alley.” Fortunately, today, it exists in a comfortably gentrified setting.
The evening was part of the aptly named Salt Cellar Series, in which a space normally used on Fridays and Saturdays is opened up to a more diverse range of mid-week possibilities. I happened to attend night two of the cheekily-named Fourplay, put on by In the House Festival in conjunction with Salt. Staged once weekly over the course of a month, the dinner and entertainment evening recalls Tony and Tina’s Wedding, save for its superior culinary offerings held in a distinctly more sophisticated, intimate setting.
Initially, about two dozen of us assembled ourselves along a great big table in the main room. Drinks were served. A man and woman began speaking in loud conversation between themselves before engaging the rest of us; she seemed somewhat embarrassed as he attempted to perform a card trick to entertain us. Despite this fellow’s bravado and cocksuredness, he failed to pull it off. It was an oddly awkward moment. It was theatre! (I just didn’t realize it at the time.)
Our hosts then led the group to the basement, where we again assembled ourselves around another long table surrounded by brick, concrete, and a glass-walled wine cellar that could have easily doubled as a large fish tank.
Though I’d been to the restaurant – noted for its simple yet stunning array of local cheese and charcuterie – I was not aware of the space beneath. In the basement, you see!
Introductions preceded yet more wine. And food. Liberal doses of occasionally raucous conversation – amongst total strangers in Vancouver, no less! – flowed.
Occasionally the lights would dim and the couple from upstairs with the failed magic trick, sitting amongst us at the table, would engage in conversation underneath a spotlight. You see there was a story going on, about their meeting on the internet and this evening actually having something to do with their engagement.
Between courses – including a Waldorf salad, a glorious plate of local cheese and fruit, a delightful berry tart – our host guided the evening. We learned the particulars of the couple and were invited to participate in discussions (some of which took place on Twitter). After our main course – a rather provocatively arranged, stylish take on traditional bangers and mash – we were entertained by a real magician, the very talented Travis Bernhardt.
The evening of truly adult entertainment recalled witty dinner parties and parlour games of an era unfamiliar to me in my own, a welcome antidote to the typical ho-hum weekday offerings of an otherwise grey, dull and rainy season.
Tickets are $65 and include food and entertainment; the next shows take place on Feb 27 (the “couple’s” stag/stagette night featuring burlesque performers April O’Peel, Violet Femme, Melody Mangler, The Wet Spots) and on March 5 (a wedding, with special guests Orkestar Slivovica). For more information and tickets, go to In the House Festival.