Tuesday, March 24, 2009

bullied into blogging

Well, I guess not actually bullied--just encouraged. Pal Jess told me to sign up for Yelp, so I did, and was really curious about the Sousa dinner. So, I just did a quick review. I'm cross-posting it here. And, I'll backtrack on the other topics I mentioned next time.

Luckily, I found out about Kevin Sousa's guerrilla dinner series (while his to-be restaurant is still in its raw state) from a friend and fellow dining aficionado.

I read an article in the New York Times a few months ago about "The Anti-Restaurants" by Melena Ryzik and about a book called Secret Suppers by Jenn Garbee, and I was totally intrigued about these underground chefs and dining experiences. And, then I got to try one!

This dinner (03/22/09) was an all vegetarian six-course feast. The space is totally raw--no kitchen, even. Long tables, covered in paper and set with plastic-ware, and we saw friends and some usual suspects from the local dining scene. I really loved the atmosphere. Super casual, and charged with excitement.

The menu was:
1st: mushroom
wasabi, ginger, seaweed, rice cracker, avocado, ramp pickles, soy, cilantro, sesame

2nd: beets
endive, blood orange, truffle, mustard, fiore sardo, croutons, rosemary honey water

3rd: soy kefta
tomato, cumin, onion, chick peas, mint, parsley, shepherd's bread, quail egg

4th: miso risotto
chive blossoms, preserved meyer lemon, bok choy, smoked paprika, tofu

5th: eatloaf
tempeh, potato puree, green bean casserole, shiitake gravy, fermented pepper ketchup

6th: chocolate
yuzu, basil, lime, malt, yogurt, pumpkin seed rice krispies, peant butter

My preferences of courses was: 3, 1, 4, 2, 5, 6.

3: The soy kefta was phenomenal. Very rustic, seemingly simple street food-esque. Fantastic flavors. The spicing tasted Moroccan to me (kefta, in general, is a Middle Eastern/Greek-style dish). It also tasted like it could be the filling for the Best Sloppy Joe In The World. The little (soft) fried quail egg on top is a twist on a classic preparation, and totally key. The soft yolk with the spiced filling is just perfect. I could seriously eat this pretty much every day.

1: The mushroom course was very sashimi-ish. I was sad that the ramp pickles were left off my plate, but luckily my dining companion shared. The mushrooms were royal trumpets, and someone commented that the texture was similar to a scallop, and I definitely got that. Really nice and fresh-tasting. A perfect way to start.

4: The miso risotto was a revelation. I'd never think of putting miso in risotto, but it really gave it a wonderful richness. The preserved lemon brightened the flavor and provided a really lovely contrast. The risotto was perfectly cooked--quite impressive without a real kitchen.

2: The beets were tasty. I always love beets for their sweet earthiness and their gorgeous hue. I think this dish could really have been stellar with some spiffed up knife skills (pretty rounds of beets and small radish batons would have sealed the deal) and more blood orange.

5: The eatloaf meal was a nice spin on a classic Sunday supper. I really like tempeh, but several folks at the table weren't fans (of tempeh in any incarnation). It was good, but just didn't pop my socks off the way some of the other courses did. I liked the ketchup a lot, and the gravy was yummy, but the rest was largely forgettable.

6: My least favorite course was the dessert. It had a lot going on, and just felt sort of disjointed. The chocolate slice incorporated peanut butter, and felt really heavy compared to some of the other components. Also, I'm not really a foam fan. It just kind of looks like spit, but that's a personal preference. I would have loved a dessert concentrating on the citrus and basil flavors, but that's also a personal preference for me. I love chocolate, but I love fresh citrus even more.

All in all, it was a really great meal, and really fun atmosphere. I wish I'd taken my camera. I hope I get to attend another of these before the actual restaurant opens, but I'm also looking forward to the seeing what the space and menu end up looking like.

If you have a chance, check out one of the upcoming dinners. And, reserve early; they sell out.
Kaya on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

i'm a bully. fine. but i want to know all about kevin's veg work, and his blog is too vague and mysterious.

thanks for being my yelp friend, though!

Anonymous said...

i worked with kevin on this dinner, and on dishes where "spiffed up knife skills" were necessary, we of course used them. with a country french inspired dish like the beet salad, it doesn't make sense to break down and destroy the natural integrity of beautiful beets at the height of their season to show off unnecessary knife skills to impress one guest that may or may not get it and "seal the deal". these dinners as kevin describes them are a pot luck of styles that represent the food that real foodies appreciate and like to see on menus. we are happy that people are showing up for these dinners, but everyone needs to understand that very few kitchen crews could pull off what kevin and his are doing with a fully equipped kitchen let alone a fucking warehouse. sorry to sound so abrasive, but it is insulting when so much goes into these only to have hypercritical thoughtless comments spread to anyone that chooses to read a self involved "food critic" blog.

Ehrrin said...

wowza, fella! i just re-read this post after reading your comment, and it's actually a pretty glowing review of a dinner that i thoroughly enjoyed.

hopefully i'll get around to writing a report soon of the most recent veggie dinner at Salt. it was another superb meal and all-around good time.

if you have a hard time taking some honest (and respectful) criticism, you're most likely in for a hard row to hoe in the food business.

but, hey, thanks for reading my self-involved "food critic" blog!