Mambo Vegan Italiano!

When I interviewed Len Senater of The Depanneur (1033 College Street) a few months ago, he was adamant that the space wouldn’t just be a cafe serving coffee and toast. That was to be its daytime persona, but he also wanted the space to be home to the Rusholme Park Supper Club, a pop-up type restaurant that hosted byob events. It took some doing, but now that The Depanneur is open and running smoothly, Senater has progressed to the point where they’ve started doing dinners.

One of the first in the October series took place last Friday, when Emily Zimmerman took over the kitchen to prepare a vegan Italian dinner meant to evoke the casual Beatnik gatherings of the 1950s when even the most basic of Italian cuisine was considered avant garde.

Guests paid $40 for a 1-day “membership” to the supper club, and brought their own beverages to the 3-course meal, which is how the Depanneur gets around licensing issues.

Zimmerman is not a professional chef but did spend many years cooking in Italian restaurants, and to make it all safe and legal, Senater holds a food handler’s certificate.

And so it was that 20 mostly tattooed, punk-oriented (we would have been beatniks 50 years ago) types gathered in a corner store for “pasghetti”.

The starter was a tasty caponata (peppers, zucchini, onions, capers, eggplant), along with a garlic-y white bean pate and piles of garlic bread slathered in either soy butter or Daiya vegan cheese.

Like eating at a big family meal, service was casual and laid-back. Here Emily and Len confer on the bowl situation – as in, did the Dep actually have enough huge bowls to contain the massive amounts of pasta Emily had prepared.

The pasta (top image) was topped with tomato sauce (aka. “red gravy” the name and theme of the night) and vegan meatballs made with lentils. There were also massive bowls of vegan Caesar salad that was quite possibly better than the non-vegan version.

A look down the table and the wine is flowing, the spaghetti is flying and we’re all having a fabulous time.

For dessert – vegan pumpkin tiramisu. Zimmerman couldn’t find a vegan version of the ladyfinger cookies for this dessert, so she made her own.

The chef serves up dessert.

The Depanneur/Rusholme Park Supper Club has a couple more events in October (including one with chef Greg Couillard), although I believe they’re sold out.  To attend a future dinner, join the mailing list or follow The Depanneur on Facebook.

And to host a dinner, contact Len with your ideas. All events are BYOB and cost $40 per person. The chef is responsible for food costs and prep, the house provides space, dishware, a server and promotion/administration, with the tickets sales being split 50/50.