I've just sipped from a glass brimming with vodka, fruit puree, lemon and champagne on crushed ice, and the crackle of Pop Rocks is still rocketing around my tongue.
"This is going to be a full sensory experience," James Hamous says, casting a nod at the room as he takes it all in. "Not the humdrum of your typical restaurant."
Do tell, sir!
Actually it's the Don't Tell Supper Club we're in, but it's clear from our grand surroundings that the folks behind the curtain want the place to be anything but a secret. The décor, as noted here before, is whimsical bordering on outlandish, with designer mirrors, slanted shelves, an array of sexy crossed legs along a wall and a stack of books behind the bar that transform into a flock of flying seagulls.
At Don't Tell -- already in soft opening but which officially launches its dinner menu July 27 -- it's going to be all about the show, stage and all. The place transforms from dinner club to nightclub at 11 p.m. and will be open three nights a week, Thursday through Saturday, with former Top Chef contestant Tre Wilcox the architect du cuisine.
"It's going to be socially interactive," says general manager Hamous, also co-owner of The Standard Pour in Uptown, who prefers to describe his role at Don't Tell as "facilitator of entertainment" and then, on second thought, as "director of crazy." He's thinking maybe geishas in the future, or mermaids in a ginormous water tank.
Yup. It's going to be that kind of place -- a cabaret of contortionists, aerialists and dance revues wriggling and prancing as you devour another forkful of lamb, the sort of spectacle you might find in such clubs in Amsterdam, Miami or New York City.
Likewise, the showy 'tude infuses the playful drink menu from bar manager Sam Houghton, formerly of Dragonfly at Hotel Zaza and The Standard Pour. Think dry ice, smoke and fanciful touches like those Pop Rocks in the so-called Contortionist, added, as the drink list says, "to bring the party to your mouth!" (Exclamation point not mine.)
The tiki-esque Trainspotting includes four syringes of rum piercing its icy depths, to be injected upon serving into the highball of orange, lime, pineapple and coconut.
The Most Unusual Tea, a name playing off the brand phrase for Hendricks Gin, is poured from a beaker into a tea cup that bubbles smoke rings like a magic potion of gin, lime, basil and citrus-chamomile bitters.
One standout is the Green Eggs and Ham (pictured at top), a cool mix of tequila, egg white, jalapeno/cucumber puree, St. Germain and spicy Firewater tincture. With a slice of candied bacon crawling from the lime-green surf over the rim of the coupe, I would drink it on a boat, or with a goat. The name even references "Sam I am" Houghton herself.
But my favorite may be the Bumbledypeg, whose name recalls mumbledypeg, the old-timey childhood game played with a pocketknife; Houghton says she wanted to make a Bee's Knees (gin, lemon and honey syrup) for a friend who's allergic to honey. Her version nicely substitutes almond-y orgeat for honey, but the coup de grace that graces the coupe (boom!) is a Bit-O-Honey speared with a tiny plastic sword.
Drink prices are expected to hover around $12, with many echoing the venue's theatrical theme: "They're things that alter and play with your senses," Hamous says.
Don't Tell Supper Club, 2026 Commerce St., Dallas.