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Din Din Supper Club—Deep fried mussels

Din Din Supper Club

Prices and locations vary; $45–60 per person (on average)

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Courtney Sproule

It’s not every day you eat 23 exquisite dishes over four hours with 14 strangers in a Sellwood funeral parlor reborn as an eccentric music hall. Or swoon over squab primed by thick cream and fat blackberries while watching suntanned studs battle a 50-foot crab (thanks to 1961’s Mysterious Island projected on the wall). Or conclude one of the most ambitious meals staged in recent Portland history with cognac and chocolates to the sounds of your dinner companions playing pool. All this, in one evening, while a DJ spins old-school soul music—sometimes loud enough to wake the dead.

But Din Din Supper Club—a monthly (or more often) meal held at changing venues—is not an everyday dining experience. Rising talent Courtney Sproule, age 29, has imagined one of the culinary adventures of the year: fine dining without the starch, to say the least. This is serious eating, sourced from farms and ranches an arm-stretch away and art-directed to surprise and delight while challenging your comfort zone.

The unexpected is part of the fun: brunches with skateboarding waiters; four-course evenings with musicians dancing on the tables; or, in the case of the 23-dish blowout, games of culinary scale, the table set with mile-high candelabras and triptychs of teeny servings on teeny plates—a reminder to appreciate the small in a world that increasingly feels too big. No two menus are alike, and all showcase Sproule’s skills and imagination, from a rack of venison with violet mustard sauce to eye-popping pasta made with flower petals pressed between translucent sheets of dough and draped over creamed, braised rabbit. For all the creativity, nothing Sproule does is random; each ingredient has a purpose and a framework, whether it’s a Spitzenberg apple crisp with cheddar ice cream or even one of Sproule’s trademark pop-culture quizzes. Bring your appetite … and an open mind. Din Din feels like a Mad Hatter’s tea party: weird, eye-widening, and inspiring. —KB