Self-proclaimed Dissident Chef Russell Jackson, who recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of his Embarcadero restaurant Lafitte, first caught attention in these parts as part of the first wave of pop-up chefs, hosting dinners in various “underground” locations for in-the-know foodies on an email list back in 2006. His SubCulture Dining series gained him a base of fans, many of whom have made it into to Lafitte to try out his “Plank” (chef’s counter) dinners, in which he creates improvised menus similar to those he once did as an underground chef — the regular menu at the restaurant has shifted in recent months to be more straight-up brasserie-style. Now, in a sort of meta, upside-down-world sort of move, Jackson appears to be relaunching SubCulture Dining as a series at his brick-and-mortar restaurant.
The Feast first caught on to the news, and the SubCulture Dining website has been doing a countdown for the last month to what’s being called the Avenger Series, which looks to be launching on Tuesday, September 6. Jackson, not a stranger to mincing words, says only, “You never know. But I’m not really saying that, because I’m not really ever saying anything, am I?”
The move appears to be a way of bringing his core fan base into the restaurant, and capitalizing on his former email list and the air of exclusivity that comes with underground dinners. (Also, SubCulture Dining stands at four and a half stars on Yelp, while the Yelpers have been a little less universal in their praise for Lafitte, but granted the restaurant has over 200 reviews rather than 20.) But is it really a pop-up/underground dinner anymore if the chef is doing it in his own restaurant?