Jorge Fabregat is no classically trained chef.
He’s the kind that learned at his grandmothers’ apron skirt.
“I was the kid who opened the pots in the kitchen,” Fabregat told diners on a recent night at La Embajada, a catering business and Dayton’s first Argentinean-style underground restaurant.
The location of dinner is kept secret until after diners’ reservations are confirmed.
The evening’s menu — mostly the Spanish and Italian influence Argentinean fare Jorge and his wife Monica Fabregat grew up eating in their native Buenos Aires — isn’t known until just before dinner is served.
The menu is printed with care in Spanish with English translation on card placed at each setting.
Monica, the super club’s energetic hostess, said guests won’t know exactly who they are eating with either and that is part of the mystery she works so hard to create.
“There is nothing like us,” she told me. “At the end of the night, two complete strangers are passing out of their phone numbers. to each other.”
The Fabregats started hosting a private-supper club gathering in December 2014.
Word of the underground experience at first spread from friends to friends of friends.
Social media and press about the restaurant garnered it even more attention.
“Because so many want to come and experience Argentinean food we are going to offer dinners bi-monthly (this month),” she said.
Each guest has a place card with his or her name and the silverware and table settings you’d expect at a fine restaurant.
Care is taken to to tailor dishes to guests dietary needs.
Gluten free? No hay problema.
Monica said La Embajada, “the Embassy” in Spanish, tries to accommodate.
For instance, grilled salmon was served to one guest who didn’t eat beef instead of Vacío grillado con papas fritas a la Provenzal (grilled flank steak with Provencal-style fries.
>>MORE: Restaurant openings 2016
The red and white Argentinian vino flowed before the espresso was served.
Jorge, a manager at First Transit in Cincinnati when he isn’t cooking, eats with guests and shares stories and belly laughs.
Monica, a Spanish teacher and history buff, serves the food and shares her knowledge of Argentina and its culture.
You can tell she’s an educator.
At the end of the evening, guests are made citizens of La Embajada.
Monica and Jorge moved to the Dayton area in 1996 for Jorge’s job at NCR. He had worked for the company in Argentina.
Monica came up with the idea to start an underground supper club after seeing a BBC story about Buenos Aires nightlife while visiting relatives in Argentina.
That nation’s economic troubles led chefs to open underground and unregulated restaurants in their homes.
Unlike those restaurants, La Embajada is regulated.
Jorge prepares the meals in a health department inspected commercial kitchen in a retrofitted trailer.
Jorge makes authentic food.
Dishes that have include offal, beef tongue and blood sausage.
“This is not a hamburger,” Jorge told guests the night I dined with La Embajada.
The bounty during my visit included:
• fresh bread with butter and a fantastic chorizo spread
•hongos portobello rellenos de verdura cremosa (portabello mushrooms stuffed with creamy vegetables)
• arroz con mejillones “a mi maner” (rice with mussels “my way”
•shot de sopa crema de esparragos (shot of cream of asparagus)
• the aforementioned grilled flank with a bright and zesty chimichurri sauce
•and for dessert, uvas, guindas y papaya en almibar con questo richota Pastelitos fritos de membrillo “25 de Mayo” (grapes, cherries, and pappya in syrup with Ricatta cheese “May 25th” quince fritters)
The paella-like mussel dish was among the crowd favorites. The first-time mussel eater in the group even said he enjoyed them.
The super creamy mushrooms serviced with yuca and a hot pepper and fried yuca was a treat and the grilled steak was tender.
Jorge’s food is favorable, but La Embajada’s true uniqueness is its experience and the hospitality of its hosts.
Leave a message on La Embajada’s Facebook page to register for the dinner. For more information, email Monica Fabregat at firstname.lastname@example.org.