In the Lab

Dinner Lab debuts in Miami

Dinner Lab's motto reads, "Consistently inconsistent." Truer words may have never been spoken.

The New Orleans social experiment that has mushroomed all over the nation hosted its first Miami event last month, and is currently recruiting members ($150 for an annual membership that grants you access to local and national events) to partake in what it calls "the dining experience liberated."

The idea is to create an ever-changing, no-frills platform where chefs and sous chefs can use members as guinea pigs, testing out concepts they aren't able to showcase in their respective restaurants. "We never serve cuisines that are native to the region," explains chef Byron Stithem, the brains behind the Miami event Native Nation.

Up-and-coming chefs work alongside culinary students.

As far as control variables go (service and locations) the execution is consistent. But like any experiment, the results vary: Where one dinner delivered unique and genuine dishes that wowed beyond expectation–like the bison pemmican nasturtium salad tossed with blood and ash vinaigrette, and green chile lamb thickened with pinyon mold–the lackluster performance that followed at the next event left us cold and confused.

"You have to go in without expectations and take each meal as an individual experience," says member Karol England, who attended both events. "If it helps to contribute in the development of a new chef and improve the dining community, then it's worth it."

And your opinion does count: At every seat there's a survey card to judge dishes and the drinks paired with them, as well as whether you'd consider ordering the dish at a restaurant.

Regardless of each dinner's final score, Dinner Lab is a memorable opportunity to try food you won't get anywhere else. And that alone is worth being a test subject.