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“What the heck is Snap Pea Underground?” I asked my friend Marsha as she explained to me purchasing tickets for her husband’s birthday. “It’s a catered dinner in a surprise location,” she replied. I had to learn more!
Approximately once a month (depending on their catering schedule), Executive Chef and Owner Jacob Boehm hosts a pop up dinner at a secret location. Tickets for the event sell out as fast as a superstar’s performance! Dates for the next event are posted on the website and an email announcing when purchasing begins are sent out to those who add their names to the mailing list. Held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings at 7 pm, with a capacity of 64 guests each night, these tickets sell out within minutes. I tried three times before I was finally able to get in!
Here are a few of my tips to enjoy your Snap Pea Underground experience:
1. Be prepared to make a split second decision.
Once registration opens, the event sell out in just a few minutes. Plan ahead with your friends concerning your parameters: how far are you willing to go (most events are held in the Raleigh/Durham area), which nights you’re available, are you okay with an outdoor or indoor setting, how much are you willing to spend?
Once you click on the date, the price will appear. I imagine that the costs may vary somewhat, but tickets on Friday and Saturday were $115 per person when we attended. There is also a service fee (we paid a $14.25 service fee for our two tickets).
2. Arrive on time.
Events are listed as starting at 7 pm but it is recommended that guests arrive between 6 and 6:30 pm. Because of the communal seating, large groups should arrive early to sit together. Meals start on time and if you arrive late, chances are that you will miss out since plates aren’t saved.
3. Come with an open mind.
If you’re not open to experiencing new foods, you’re not going to enjoy this. I really dislike beets. One of our nine courses had “charred beets.” But I was willing to try it and while I wouldn’t order it on my own, I ate the entire serving. Trust Jacob and the flavors.
4. This is an experience as much as dinner.
The plating is done right there, next to the guests. You’re invited to observe the preparation and ask questions. During the first plating, I was handed a baby turnip with some dressing. I honestly told the staff that I had no idea which part to eat – it turns out, all of it! Meals last approximately 3 hours, so make sure you can relax and enjoy all of it. Plus, due to the communal seating, you’ll make new friends.
5. Bring your own beverage.
Water is provided, as well as wine glasses and bottle openers, but you will need to bring your own drink of choice. Since these are not your typical dining facility, they have no way to chill your beverage, so plan accordingly.
6. Tip your staff.
Snap Pea Catering is a certified living wage provider. The service provided by the waitstaff was absolutely amazing! Let them know how much you appreciate their work at the end of the evening by tipping. Stop at an ATM on your way to the location so you’ll be ready!
7. Don’t be that guy.
Locations are announced via email 36 hours in advance of each dinner. So while Friday night’s announcement is usually released at 7 am on Thursday, those attending Sunday night won’t know the address until Saturday at 7 am. Please keep the surprise location a secret for those that have to wait a little longer and don’t post photos of the location! In the past, dinners have been held at the Butterfly Exhibit at the Museum of Life & Science, in a courtroom at the historic Orange County District Courthouse, the Scrap Exchange, Tesla Motors, The Morehead Planetarium, the Old Bynum Bridge, and a Raleigh Rooftop, among others.
While this was our first time attending (and I hope, not the last one!), more than half of the guests during our dinner previously attended at least 5 prior dinners. Jacob is personable, answers all questions, and hosted a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
What Was Dinner Like?
We attended dinner on Easter/Passover Sunday. That actually led to the theme of dinner – Passover Seder. We had eight listed courses plus a ninth surprise, all representative of different parts of the seder celebration. Our courses:
- Fried Olive, Rocket’s Robiola, Charred Orange Honey
- Green Gargouillou, Marcona Almonds, Chicory Root
- Parsley Soup, Buttermilk
- Dandelion Dip, Old Bay Fried Matzo
- Charred Beet, Strained Yogurt, Purple Hull Peas
- Duck Egg, Crispy Sweet Potato Nest
- Maple Walnut Pie, Pink Lady Apple, Cinnamon Meringue
- Matzo Crack, Matzo Cookie Butter, Tahini Chocolate Sauce
- Manischewitz Jelly Square
And while I had never eaten dandelion root before, and I thought parsley soup would be bland, I actually liked everything (although the beet was my least favorite). Had I not been in public, I would have licked my plate clean!
So while I’m somewhat apprehensive about sharing this magnificent experience, I just don’t feel it would be right not to share this wonderful experience!
Pro Tip: Sign up for their mailing list to receive notice of when tickets will go on sale.
Have you attended a Snap Pea Underground dinner? What was your favorite part?
Annick, The Common Traveler