Ticketing, a new form of dining experience, has come to Atlanta. The Sound Table is collaborating with food and dining-centric start up TableNow for the first in a series of special suppers. The series will feature collaborations with chefs and bartenders at local restaurants for which diners will pay in advance for a meal at a set date and time. This particular event is called "eat. drink. listen., a curated supper with drink pairings celebrating the union of drink and food," and it will run from Friday, October 19 to Sunday, October 28. Each four-course meal with drink pairings will cost $45 plus tax and tip, and tickets are now on sale. Read on to find out more about what exactly is going down and how to get in on it from Sound Table owner Karl Injex and Alex Lassiter and Nick Miller of TableNow.
Why are you doing this?
KI: We wanted to focus what we do every day into an experience that isn't necessarily the right way to enjoy Sound Table but is a guide to enjoy the way the bar and the kitchen work together. Some restaurants are more bar-heavy and some restaurants are more kitchen-heavy, and here we strive to make them even. More importantly, we encourage people to play with combinations. All of our food is served a la carte, it's designed to be shared. The idea is that you should be able to try a few different things, and the same goes for our cocktail list. It's broad enough to incorporate a number of different tastes, but it's designed to be small enough so that you're not losing yourself in a book.
With this experience, we want people to feel like they can come in here and have a very approachable omakase-type experience where we lay out the bar and the kitchen for them, and they're given a chance to see a suggested path of combinations. In that sense, it fits into the supper club idea, but it's even a little bit more focused on the marriage of food and drink. We're talking about cocktails, beer, wine— we're using all of the artillery behind the bar to go best with each of the four courses.
Will a meal at 7:30 cost me more than one at 9:30 or 5:30?
NM: We're doing ticketing in a broad sense, so customers will pay in advance for a certain time on a certain night. The idea of variable pricing might get worked in over time, so a customer might pay less on a Tuesday night at 9 p.m. than he would on Saturday at 7:30. But not right now.
AL:We're bringing something new to Atlanta and we want as many people to experience it as possible, so we don't want to make the cost something that's prohibitive.
Why does Atlanta need this?
KI: One of the other things we've talked about is this idea of how if you go to a place a lot, you get to know the people, you get involved in the culture of a place, and you get the feeling that you can sort of walk in there, sit down, and ask them to just bring you some stuff, and they'll craft you a great meal. We want to incorporate a little bit of that familiarity, like you're kind of coming in through TableNow's back door of the restaurant, and we're seating you in a specific area. It's not about being elite, it's about being looked after in a certain way. We understand that you've shown an interest, and if you've taken the time and had the inclination to buy a ticket then we're treating you as though you've come in through a different access point.
You're going to have a different experience with a different menu and with very simple but important details that we as diners respond to. We as eaters are enjoying the culture that Atlanta is developing— because it's all very new here, a lot of these things have been going on in other cities for a long time, but we have the benefit of having a very young restaurant scene, and I personally feel like its growing a lot more quickly than a lot of other cities because it's not as saturated. So what we've done is that we've looked at the culture and tried to cultivate it in an organized way.
AL: We wanted to take a step back to the reasons why people start restaurants— what their dreams were and what they were envisioning— and actually embody that into a ten-day experience.
NM:When you walk into a restaurant, you actually have a ton of choice, but if you were to buy a ticket to a show at the theatre, you're buying a ticket to one single experience. We identified an opportunity to let a lot of great chefs and mixologists kind of curate what they feel is the ultimate dining experience that embodies their restaurants.
KI: Sometimes people just want to put themselves in your hands and say, "Show me. You know better than me." People want more authorship, more curation. It's like the theatre, except the venue is different, it's like dinner is the show.
The meal is $45 for four courses with drink pairings, plus tax and tip, all paid for before coming to the restaurant. Do you think that tipping in advance will affect service?
NM: It's a set tip of 20%. Part of what we're doing is offering a higher level of experience, and part of that is the service. Things are going to be a bit more interactive.
KI: Because we're essentially going to be ordering for you, because you don't have to worry, the servers will be dedicated to the tables and will be trained specifically for the meal. They'll have specific information about why each dish and each drink are being presented.
AL: Part of the dinner is the education component. I love the idea that someone who's very familiar with the dishes and the drinks can come up and say this is why this tastes like this, these bitters go really well with this ingredient. Then you really understand your meal.
KI: It's not going to be didactic— there's not going to be a quiz at the end of the meal, but we want people to feel that playful nature of what went into making the food, because it's a lot of fun to find out what works together and we hope that they'll have a lot of fun eating as well.
So what are the details?
NM: We're capping the tables at two to four people each, and there are eight spots on each weeknight and 16 on the weekends. So it's pretty limited seating, because we want to give people that restaurant within a restaurant experience. It's going to be special, and we want to bring a level of intimacy to it. Tickets can be bought starting at 10 a.m. today at supperseries.com, with seatings between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m from October 19 to October 28. We can be reached by email if needed.
AL: But we're not going to tell you everything; there are going to be a lot of surprises. Little, unexpected things will definitely crop up, like we're doing a special collaboration with Morelli's just for the series. People who've come here before will be really glad to experience something new and people who haven't been will be glad that they came. This is a great opportunity for someone to come in and have that experience of, like we said, going through the back door.