My two cents: I have occasionally been invited into a friend's "salon." Granted, these are all couples with a similar background who have known one another for 20 years or so - but the idea is very nice: they agree on a topic for discussion, they meet monthly on a rotation basis, and the host/ess provides refreshment. They start by 7 or so, and do a round robin: everyone has their 10 minutes of fame (although many people go on and on). Topics could be to agree to read a book and then present thoughts - or even something a la Toastmasters: pick a word like "smiles" and then you can do a poem, a painting, music, read a report - whatever.
I found it delightful, even though I was an outsider - they felt I had something to contribute. It may be hard to replicate if people aren't established and have homes that can accommodate a group. Meeting in a cafe / restaurant is difficult: most want to turn the table over and move the next group in and out, and the cost of food and drink is a consideration (at least for some of us).
Potlucks favor the cooks and inspired. Often guys (yes) will bring a six-pack. a bottle of wine, or some takeout. Hardly in the spirit, but it satisfies the "letter of the law." And then there's the unforeseen: bad weather, crowds, parking, bugs, nowhere to sit/set a table, all the paper plates and cups (unless it's all finger food), and the inevitable vegan or kosher or macrobiotic or organic-only dietary restrictions as a group gets diverse.
Just the same, it's worth a shot. Go for it.