Local beer guru brings supper club series to East Falls, starring chef Alex Garfinkel (Balboa).
Supper Clubs have been popping up all over Philly, they’re like a mashup of a chef’s table and a dinner party: a chef plans and executes a multi-course menu (often around a theme) for just one night. Guests pay a fixed price per person, BYOB. Supper Clubs provide chefs the opportunity to experiment, and foodies the chance to try really unique, trend-setting food.
You may know JK from his popular “Behind the Tap” column in the Local where he uses his mad Cicerone skills to divine the best beers of the season, often paired with menu items from around the Falls. Recently, he’s teamed up with Alex Garfinkel, a rising local chef who, btw, studied under In Riva’s Artie Cavaliere when he was chef de cuisine at Amada.
Chef Garfinkel’s jam is super-creative food with the most seasonal & locally-sourced ingredients he can find. Twice a month, he welcomes diners to Balboa, his stylish space in Fishtown for themed communal dinners around a big table. His supper clubs have been so popular, he’s seeking to expand to new neighborhoods – of course JK pitched him East Falls!
Plans are in the works for upcoming supper clubs, possibly at In Riva or in Trolley Car Café’s newly expanded dining room (opening soon). SUNDAY JUNE 10th: Chef Alex presents a special menu of small plates and grilled bites at The Top of the Falls, a sunset rooftop soiree at Falls Center. What a great opportunity to sample his food, paired with craft beer from Love City Brewing!
Meanwhile, make time for one of Balboa’s extraordinary supper clubs, view upcoming events & register online at BalboaCatering.com.
SUPPER CLUB 101
JK explains all you need to know to supper club like a boss!
What kinda food are we talking, here?
Fine dining, with a fresh, modern vibe. At our supper clubs, food is like art – creative, expressive, and exciting. We love surprising guests with new flavor combinations! In the span of a five-course menu, you’ll find plates with up to 20 impeccable components, executed with precision. Every dinner is an event, a unique “one-off” that’s impossible to reproduce.
Sometimes we feature a special ingredient, sometimes we host a guest chef or explore a theme like magic or love. A favorite dish from last year was a twist on Chinese hot & sour soup using noodles made from wood ear mushrooms. Another was smoked carrots with a yogurt paneer, and also a fried potato tureen with warm crab salad and a truffle cauliflower soubise. We do a lot of octopus, too, and Chef has also been experimenting with koji lately (creating some pretty amazing menus).
How many people attend?
Our cut-off for reservations is 20 guests.
How long does a supper club last?
Expect 2 – 3 hours but that really depends on the group. Some parties linger, and some keep going right out the door to a bar afterwards (which happens all the time in Fishtown)! Btw, Balboa is a quick trip from East Falls, you can Uber/Lyft home for about $12 – $15, zip zip.
What’s the tipping situation?
Gratuity is encouraged and appreciated but not included in the ticket price. Guests usually tip cash by leaving it on the table or handing directly to the servers after the meal. Tips are equally distributed between both the back of the house & front of the house staff.
What if I’m allergic to something on the menu, or if I really can’t stand an ingredient?
The posted menu for each event is more of a placeholder. Three or four days before an event, the team shops local markets and farms for the best, freshest ingredients and then adjusts the menu from there. Guests with special dietary considerations can email Balboa up to 24 hours before their dinner, to confirm the menu and request accommodations.
Keep an open mind, though. Be willing to try new things knowing the chef will never risk you having a bad experience. Bring a good bottle of wine and some friends – or not. If you come alone, prepare to make lots of new friends!
Final thoughts from JK: Sharing a meal is a relatable, human experience that can bond and transform people. The small act of coming together around a table reminds us that in the Big Picture, we’re all family. Let’s eat!
Balboa Supper Club with chef Alex Garfinkel and Jonathan Kennedy
2109 East Susquehanna Ave (Fishtown)
Read our review from chef Alex’s “Taste of Spring” supper club (March 2018)