10250 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90067
It has been a while since I've attended a Hatchi dinner but the presence of Walter Manzke more than enough reason to go. After having made a name for himself at Bastide then at Church and State, I think much of the LA's food cognoscenti came out hoping to get some hints of what Chef Manzke has in mind next. In fact the reservations filled up so quickly I would have missed this dinner were it not for my friend who was kind enough to give me a seat at his table.
Amuse: Shrimp Ceviche
Almost after we sat down we were presented with a deconstructed ceviche. The grilled shrimp was a touch overdone but had a nice smokiness and spicy finish that made up for the flat texture. The chaser was subtler than I expected, more like a gazpacho than the more astringent classic ceviche marinade.
Breadbar Epi - with foie gras butter
With the spotty service we decided to order some bread to tide us over between lulls. As expected of a restaurant named BreadBar, the Epi was delicious with a crisp skin and an overwhelming aroma of freshly baked bread. Delicious on its own or smeared with the honey-sweetened foie gras butter.
MEXICO: Yellowtail Ceviche - Jalapeno, Tomatillo Sorbet
Nariwa Ozeki Shuzo "Ohkagura" - Okayama, Japan
As with the Shrimp Ceviche, the yellowtail ceviche was light on acidity. Instead I got a mouthful of soft citrus on the attack and a salsa-like zestiness on the finish. The staff forgot the wine pairing and ended up bringing both Sake and a Pacifico Beer. A cleaner sake would have been better suited to the delicacy of the fish and the Pacifico just tasted bitter against the sweetness of the sorbet.
THAILAND: White Corn Curry Soup - Mussels, Coconut Tapioca
2007 Robert Weil Kabinett Halbtrocken - Rheingau, Germany
I didn't see how a white corn soup would be representative of Thailand but in fact the curry and coconut tapioca were spot on. Though I found the dish too sweet, I thought they tempered the aggressive brine of the mussels which worked to the benefit of my companion.
VIETNAM: "Banh Mi" - Pig's Feet Sliders
2009 Domain de la Madone "Le Perréon" - Beaujoulais, France
I was expecting this to look like something out of Lee's Sandwiches. Instead this looked like a traditional slider with a patty of nicely fried pig's feet coupled with pickled carrot and daikon. The rich pig's feet patty was similar to a pulled pork with a nice crispy batter and the intense spice and tanginess of the veggies was the perfect counter to the fattiness of the pork. The sliders were absolutely delicious, but I just wish I could have felt some of the distinctive texture of the pigs feet.
SPAIN: Santa Barbara Spot Prawn - Garlic, Sherry
La Cosheta Manzanilla Pasada Sherry - Andalucia, Spain
Spot Prawns have been one of the most inconsistent ingredients I've seen across restaurants, too often they come out overdone or under seasoned. Happily this was neither, deliciously snappy and meaty with a sweet brine that reflects the freshness of the crustacean.
ITALY: English Pea Ravioli - Soft Egg, Parmesan
NV Gruet "Blanc de Noirs" - Engle, New Mexico
The second I saw this on the menu I had images of the divine Sweet Pea Agnolotti at Spago. Add to that my penchant for runny eggs and this was my early frontrunner for best course of the night. The ravioli was spot on, sweet and herbaceous with a shade of mint to boot. The Parmesan added some savoriness and weight but there just wasn't enough.
FRANCE: Tarte Flambe - Caramelized Onion, Bacon, Gruyere
2007 Freidrich Becker Pinot Noir - Pfalz, Germany
The staff really laid it on with this dish; the servings could have been split in half and still been plenty. Simple and simple and delicious in intent, the clean nuttiness of the cheese bridged the sweetness of the onion and smoky flavor of the bacon.
PHILLIPINES: Leche Flan - Pandan, Coconut Ice Cream
NV Jonata "La Miel de Jonata" - Santa Ynez Valley, California
Think tres leches cake mixed with flan. The custard was substantially denser with a pervasive flavor of condensed milk. The coconut was a nice touch adding a complimentary layer of flavor reminiscent of the coconut soup with tapioca served at Chinese restaurants.
JAPAN: Chocolate Fondant - Bing Cherries, Black Sesame Ice Cream, Green Tea
Rare Wine Company Historic Series New York Malmsey
Luckily we had a fairly early reservation since they ran out of this course by the time they got to us. The chocolate fondant was nothing spectacular on its own but grew considerably with the addition of the green tea and sesame ice cream. I particularly enjoyed the hot/cold interplay between the ice cream and the fondant as well as the verdant bite of the matcha which proved to be a good counterpoint to the richness of the chocolate.
One of my complaints with the early Hatchi dinners was the quality of service. Thankfully service has improved markedly; hough there were some missteps, particularly with the timing of the wine pairings. Still that paled into insignificance against the main attraction, Manzke's food. Overall, I was underwhelmed, some of the dishes were absolutely superb, while others needed some fine tuning. Still I liked what I saw and it is my expectation that things will be better when we see the finished product.
Monday, June 28, 2010
10250 Santa Monica Blvd.