The Spokesman and The Inlander are falling over eachother writing about "pop-up restaurants" and lovely all the coverage is. This type of dining has been the rage in places like NYC for a bit now, and Spokane has actually jumped on the bandwagon at a fairly early time, at least with our previous timeliness taken into consideration. (That is, not very timely at all.)
It's great that these people who are taking chances are getting some mainstream exposure. If the chefs mentioned in these articles could make some money off the events, then hey, awesome. Yet when some people have been calling Ghetto Gourmand an "underground" dining experience, my mind started wandering.
The events mentioned in the articles -- Pop-Up (where I borrowed the photo from), 15, Ghetto Gourmand, and Wandering Table -- are, of course, not underground. Nor do I think they want to be, which is understandable. I, like you, have had the chance to experience all of them -- though we only ventured out to Pop-Up -- and with the exposure they're now getting, they're close to being as commercial as a conventional restaurant. Again, there's nothing wrong with that, but it would be fun if Spokane had a true "underground" (and I do hate that word, but whatever) restaurant, i.e. a place that truly popped up at random times and location only available through speakeasy channels as opposed to mass e-mails and the region's largest newspaper.
These events are great, don't get me wrong, but to get a true dining-out-culture, I think we need something more mythical. True "underground" events don't receive media coverage, hence the name. It'd be fun to see that here.
As for the more upscale events mentioned above, I'm sure the food is extraordinary at each of them. (15 dishes by Sante? Come on...) I do, however, feel that these events serve more of a "see and be seen" purpose. Again, there's nothing wrong with that, but I, personally, am not a fan of those kind of things. I'd rather walk into Sante, pay up for a 5 or 7 or whatever course meal, and have them cook whatever they feel like. (And they do, it is even encouraged.)
Wound an "underground" event bee all about "see and be seen"? Possibly. Probably, even. But I'm guessing on a lesser event than something that was mass publicized weeks before the event.
I suppose the really great thing that's coming from Pop-Up and 15 and its ilk is that we now have options ranging outside of our standard brick and mortar restaurant where we can get everything from burgers to fifteen course gourmet dinners. That is really awesome and it is extremely beneficial for the dining culture in Spokane. Now if we can get options that are really underground -- some have existed in the past, and probably still do, on smaller levels -- then I feel we have taken an important additional step.
Of course, maybe the underground events do flourish and I just don't know about them. Egg on my face if so!