Tag Archives: Bona Sera

Bona Sera: Ypsilanti Michigan

Ann Arbor Food

Slow Roasted Pork for the Bhami Sandwiches

Bona Sera, Ypsilanti’s newest restaurant, is my favorite place to eat in the Ann Arbor area.  It is a fun laid back atmosphere decorated with Elvis Lamps, Star Trek Clocks and fun dressed mannequins in the window.

They serve a mix of dishes from a selection of Bhami Sandwiches, to a Thai version of shrimp and grits both house favorites. The prices for most dishes range in the $7-8 dollar range.

Ann Arbor Food Bona Sera

Bona Sera

They also offer a few special like their surfy tuffy, which is a steak and scallop salad for $18.

Check out their full menu here.

Bona Sera is like one of those great out of the way secret places that you hope/pray you will find while traveling through Europe. You know the place. It is the one with the great food, not fancy, good prices, that you tell stories about when you return home.

I can’t say enough about this place. You have to go and try it if you have not been and tell your friends.

ann arbor food chocolate chip cookies at Bona Sera

Chocolate Cookies at Bona Sera

Ann Arbor Food Greek Lemon Egg Drop Soup At Bona Sera Greek Lemon Egg Drop Soup At Bona Sera
Ann Arbor Food House made pickles with Bundha Rice Bowls at Bona Sera

House made pickles with Bundha Rice Bowls at Bona Sera

Ann Arbor Food Bhami Sandwich at Bona Sera

Bhami Sandwich at Bona Sera

Ann Arbor Food Slow Roasted Pork At Bona Sera

Slow Roasted Pork At Bona Sera

Special Coffee Blend at Bona Sera

Ann Arbor Food Bona Sera

Bona Sera

Ann Arbor Food Bona Sera

Bona Sera

Ann Arbor Food Bona Sera

Bona Sera

Ann Arbor Food Bona Sera

Bona Sera


Bona Sera Volunteer Appreciation Dinner

Ann Arbor Food

Pasta Rogue

This post is mostly food porn showing off the great meal the gang at Bona Sera Secret Supper Club made for the volunteers who gave our time to support the great food and causes Bona Sera supports.

And this was just part of the meal. There was squid dish, potatoes, fresh salad and dessert with lots of wine all around.

Bona Sera is hosting another Secret Super Oct 15, for more info check out their facebook page:

Check out pics from a previous bonasera event

Ann Arbor Food

Caprese Salad

Ann Arbor Food

Ann Arbor Food

Lamb with Rice

Ann Arbor Food

Lobster Bisque

Fun, Food and Funk: Bona Sera Secret Super Club

Ann Arbor Food

Bona Sera, Ann Arbor’s secret supper club, provides great food and fun for charity.
But do not tell anyone. It really is a secret.

About 40 people gathered under a tent on a cool September night in Ann Arbor for a clandestine dinner party. The theme of the party was “Fairy Tales Under the Sea.” Guests dined on an elegant six-course meal featuring seafood and were entertained by a sea of drag queens.

This was not an ordinary dinner party. This was a Secret Supper Club.

Secret supper clubs, or underground restaurants, are food gatherings that are held in secret. They are run by passionate home cooks, local food advocates or rogue chefs looking to create adventurous food. They range greatly in size from intimate dinner parties for six to large events held in warehouses. Guests of these events are “foodies” who seek out unique food experiences.

Bona Sera is the brainchild of two women nicknamed “Bad Fairy” and “Wonder Woman.” Their real names, like their club, are also secret. They started Bona Sera in December 2008.

“I had worked with Clandestino in Chicago, and the Ghetto Gourmet in San Francisco,” said Wonder Woman, referring to other secret super clubs. “And when I moved to Ann Arbor, I thought starting a club would be a good way to meet people and be social.”

“The name Bona Sera is actually a typo for the Italian word buonasera, which means good evening,” Bad Fairy said with a wry smile. “Wonder Woman misspelled it, but we had already registered the Web domain name, so we stuck with it.”

To participate in a Bona Sera event, one has to first register online to be a on a mailing list. Announcements about upcoming events, which include the date, theme and menu, are posted on the website: bonaserasupperclub.com. Participants forward an e-mail to reserve a spot. The location, which is different each time, is not disclosed until a day before the event. Fans of Bona Sera generously donate their homes to host the secret suppers.

Why all the secrecy? Technically, these events are illegal. Only a licensed caterer can offer prepared food to the public for money out of a private home. Bona Sera, like most secret super clubs, does not have a license.

“We had some people who attended past events that were in a position to arrest us,” said Bad Fairy. “We could be fined.”

“And they would take our food away,” Bad Fairy said sadly.

“We use the words suggested donations,” said Wonder Woman. “And we change locations every time.” These were tricks that she picked up from Clandestino to avoid getting caught.

Guests do not have to pay any specific amount for the meal, but $50 is the suggested donation.

All of the money raised from these parties after the cost of food goes to charity. The charities for this event were Uncle Rock’s Place, an organization that provides support for patients with HIV/Aids and their families and The Ozone House Kicked Out Fund, which is a shelter for runaway gay, lesbian and transgender youth.

“We like to find organizations where a small amount of money would provide a larger impact,” said Wonder Woman. “This supper club raised about $1,200. We have raised around $10,000 for local charities.”

“Most people do this as a business,” said Wonder Woman. “We’re the only one I’ve read about who does it exclusively for charity.”

Bona Sera has an all-volunteer crew who works for free, including the entertainment. It has also established good relationships with local food suppliers like Monahan’s Seafood, which supports the club by providing discounts. These relationships mean that Bona Sera can raise more money for its charities.

The food for these events is eclectic, which mirrors both women’s food tastes and style.

One supper club featured a whole roasted pig. Another had a Mexican street food theme.

“People seem to like it. It is unique and invented,” said Bad Fairy. “A food critic commented that the squid was so tender that he thought it was pasta.”

“We try to put a twist on things,” said Wonder Woman. “We did a fried pig’s ear served with salad. And we did a Gorgonzola and burnt honey ice cream.”

“We drink wine, and it comes out of our head,” said Wonder Woman, referring to how they create a menu. “Themes come from a dish we want to do.”

Not all events go as smoothly as they would like. The grill stopped working at their largest-attended event, and on another occasion they stacked their home-made ravioli wrong, which resulted in them all sticking together. “It took us forever to get them apart and we were only able to serve one per person instead of three,” said Bad Fairy.

“The next will have a duck theme,” said Wonder Woman.

They are planning their next event sometime in early December. And there is talk of a future “mushroom theme.”

To get in on the secret, go the bonaserasupperclub.com and sign up to be on the mailing list.

Restaurant Hosted Local Food Charity Events: It’s a small wins for Local Food

I have listed two local food charity events this month on my Events page. One is on March 29th host by Seva in Ann Arbor, a vegetarian restaurant landmark. The other is at The Grange Kitchen and Bar on March 30th. Both will donate a portion of the nights proceeds to benefit a Local Food organization. The Grange is donating to  Growing Hope. These are starting to become ongoing events, and an opportunity to support local food institutions, while having a great meal.

Lake Perch at the Grange Kitchen and Bar

I wrote a post a few months ago about how charity/fundraiser dinners say in the form of secret supper clubs like Bona Sera, privately hosted tasting menu events like Tammy’s Tastings, and “Breakfast Clubs,” like fridays@selma provide an opportunity to enjoy locally sourced prepared meals. My hope was that other local food cooks would take up the call and start more of these local food venues to create a grassroots locally sourced and prepared meals. The idea was to transform our kitchen tables into micro, one time or ongoing, local food restaurants.

But I never thought about the obvious, which is why not also ask an already established restaurant to host a charity meal night? The Grange Kitchen and Bar for example donates 10% of their Tuesday sales to a local food organization.

"Pig's Head appetizer at the Grange Kitchen and Bar

I love this idea for a few reasons. For one it does not take that much extra work in order to set these events up. A simple posting on the restaurants web site and say an announcement by the organization receiving the charity is about all the promotion that is needed. 

The other factor is the price. Many charity/fundraiser meals tend to be on the pricy side, and for good reason. The idea is to raise money, and in order to do that expenses and more have to be met in order to collect funds for donation. Some of these local meals can range from $50-$150 or up to $500, which can price me out of these dinners especially if I want to bring Emily along.

I try to attend a few of these events a year to have a special food experience, but more often I do not because of price. I still regret being priced out of the Portland Oregon Farmers Market dinner every year when I lived there.

 I do not want to be negative about these fundraising dinners. There are plenty of people who can afford to attend these dinners, and provide their yearly charitable donation dollars with their attendance. And the meals at Tammy’s, Bona Sera and fridays@selma are better than what can be found at even the best restaurant, and the money collected goes to worthy causes.

What stands out with the Restaurant charity/fundraiser dinner model for me is the minimal/average cost. A meal at Seva can run $10-20 per person, and at the Grange $20-35 for say an entree. I feel these price ranges may open up more people to attend a charity/fundraiser dining event. There may be less money raised per diner, but there may be more diners participating to perhaps equal things out.

Spicy Fried Chick Pea appetizer at Grange Kitchen and Bar

I see the restaurant charity/fundraiser dinners movement as a great small start win for the local food movement. I tend to think of the BIG WIN like an entirely locally sourced restaurant, bigger farmers markets, or better yet a locally sourced region restaurant chain. But in thinking of the big win, I over look the small win like a restaurant hosting a once a month locally sourced menu, or even just featuring a locally sourced weekend dinner special.

Asking a restaurant or a chef to go all/mostly local can be an overwhelming proposition. But asking a chef to take on a locally sourced menu for a night can be a fun challenge, and one which an adventurous chef may take on. And if a local food night is successful and supported, the chef might do it again, even if they are not known as a local food place.

In other words, just about any independent restaurant from large or small, high end or burger/sandwich joint, can be a potential venue for the local food movement charity/fundraiser meal, or at least feature a local menu item like a local sandwich special, or salad.

The big local push in Ann Arbor is for a %10 locally sourced food goal (see 10 percent Washtenaw) A large portion of food is eaten out, so in order to reach this goal, I feel that we will need to get more restaurants to offer some locally sourced food. The charity/fundraiser dinner event can be a way to convince other independent food service establishments to get a taste for going local, while supporting local food/garden organizations. These venues could create a larger demand for locally sourced foods, which in turn will motivate the creation of more locally sourced food suppliers.

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Bona Sera Secret Supper Club: Night of a 1000 Drag Queens

Ann Arbor Food For those not in the know, secret supper clubs are underground restaurant/catered events that operate in secret. The reason for the secrecy is because they usually are run out of a home kitchen that is not certified. This makes it technically illegal to charge for the meal. The way around this is to have a charity sponsor the meal and ask for a “donation.”

This makes it a fund raising event/meeting, which at least in the state of Michigan, makes it possible to serve a home cooked meal/bake goods for a donation. I am not completely sure how this all works, so to be safe and to make sure these dinners are not shut down, they are held in secret.

With this said, since Bona Sera is a secret supper club, and the people involved are sworn to keep their secret, I can not confirm or deny any of the people present, the location, or anything else about the latest Bona Sera Dinner event.

The Secret Menu?

Assorted Apps:
Herb Tomato Focaccia

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Mushroom Focaccia

Ann Arbor Food

Corn “Ho” cakes with goat cheese and zebra tomato

Ann Arbor Food

Grilled plantain with chevre and chive

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Assorted Sushi

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Grilled cooked clams with lime brown butter

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First Course

Popsicle Melone con Frutta Fresca (Melon Popsicle with Fresh Fruit)

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Second Course

Anima Sacra Ravioli with Lobster Prosecco Beurre Blanc

(Sacred Heart Ravioli with Lobster Prosecco Butter Sauce)

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Third Course

Molte Pieghe Naked Fichi con Formaggio di Capra

(Naked Figs with Goat Cheese)

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Fourth Course

Rapporti di Maiale con Melone Gazpacho

(Intercourse of Pork with Melon Gazpacho)

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Main Course

Your Choice of:

1. Parmigiano Cotta della Melanzana

(Grilled Eggplant Parmesan)

2. Roquefort del Manzo con le Noci

(Beef Roquefort with Walnuts)

Ann Arbor Food

3.  Pesci Bianchi l’avocado ed il Gambero l’avocado ed il Gambero

(White Fish with Cream, Avocado and Shrimp)

Ann Arbor Food


Chocolate Orgasm Torte with a Zabaglione Stonefruit

Ann Arbor Food

Selma Cafe: Charity Dinner by Tammy’s Tastings

Another great meal, created and hosted by Tammy Coxen of Tammys Tastings. This meal was to support the Selma Cafe which hosts friday morning meals. Also in attendance was the creators of the  Bona Sera Secret Supper Club. So many local foodies in one place.

My first batch of pea shoot, microgreens were ready, and I brought them along for people to try. Tammy included them with her first course, a mushroom tart. The pea shoots provided a fresh, sweet balance to the richness of the tart. The microgreens were a hit. Jeff McCabe, one of the creators of Selma Cafe who is also hosting the Home Grown Festival, offered me a table at the festival to sample and promote my microgreens. Hope to see you there. The event is in two weeks and he says that there could be 3000 people in attendance. I thought about my microgreen mini farm that currently consists of eight trays in my backyard and realized I have to get a lot more trays going to prepare for this event.

The Meal: It was all great. Big stand outs were the mushroom tarts, the carrot soup with Iranian pistachios, the lamb chop, and the Panna Cotta with peaches, which left us all speechless.

Yellow Oyster Mushrooms Tart (w/pea shoot microgreens)

Ann Arbor Food

Heirloom Tomato Napoleon w/basil oil and fresh mozzarella

Ann Arbor Food

Carrot Soup w/Iranian pistachios, hazelnut oil, maple syrup and chives

Ann Arbor Food

Salad w/roasted fennel and beets

Ann Arbor Food

Confit Byaldi w/lake trout, w/ herb oil

Ann Arbor Food

Lamb Rib Chop w/cassoulet of summer beans

Ann Arbor Food

Cheese Plate w/raw honey, marinated raisins, and preserves

Ann Arbor Food

Panna Cotta w/poached peaches and balsamic vinegar

Ann Arbor Food

Petit Fours

Ann Arbor Food