A Williamsburg industrial loft, an underground dinner club, a logo of a skull and crossed cooking utensils: The Whisk and Ladle dinner club has all the ingredients of an unbearable hipster disaster inferno implosion. The club is run by a trio of hippicureans, and their project recalls an era before Vice's definition of cool (tampons, cocaine, low self-esteem, sneakers) became the operational norm. Forty dollars gets you a spot in the group's cavernous loft, darkly powerful cocktails and a 5-course meal. But what separates this meal from any you might get at a restaurant is the gentle sheen of illegality (it's not licensed), the exclusivity, and the company.
Publicity is usually death for underground endeavors like these. When Daily Candy wrote up Ghetto Gourmet, the Oakland-based underground dinner club, the New York event was crammed up to the tits in unnaturally tan lawyers with nasal voices and gentlemen whose top buttons remained estranged from their button holes. And when Whisk and Ladle was written up in Thrillist, the founders were flooded with douchebag emails demanding reservations.
Fortunately, they admitted only the die-hard. As a result, the tattoos revealed by the d colletage of our seatmate's dress on a recent visit skewed toward hearts and daggers, Henry Darger and lilies—and not the Chinese characters and unicorns of the Ghetto Gourmet sort.
The events are limited to 20 people, give or take. At our table—one of three—sat a comedian, an observant Jew (deferring the fish chowder), a blogger, and a few others. Jakob Lodwick, the heavily bespectacled co-founder of Collegehumor, dropped by to talk about astral projection during the entree course (salmon with beet risotto). The dessert, a St. Paddy's day Hibernian tribute, was perhaps the strongest part of the meal: chocolate bread pudding with stout ice cream.
And so now you know what it is, the next question is: How do you get in?
Scoring a table at Whisk and Ladle is a lot like what we imagine trying to sleep with Claire Danes is like. First you have to deal with the seemingly sempiternal waiting list (Whisk and Ladle is booked nearly to July) but the rule is this: just make her laugh, make her cry, woo her with words and deeds. One Whisk and Ladle organizer told us, "We just go through our inbox and delete all the emails that say 'Reservations for two'." So put forth a little effort and plead your case properly. It's not every night that you'll get both a great dinner and a peek at what Williamsburg felt like back at its glorious dawn.