Omg, where did Catty Critic go? Why hasn’t she posted a review in a while? Did she finally pop from all the food she’s been nomming? No, no…I’m still here and I’m still expanding. Like the majority of people out there, come New Year’s I’m gonna resolve to get my lard-ass on some sort of workout routine that doesn’t involve shoveling food in my mouth. But in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the rest of 2010 with some amazing meals…like the one I had last night.
Rock My Palate invited me to join her 4-top for dinner at Magnum, a pop-up at Biergarten via Joseph Mahon (formally of Bastide) and David Haskell (sommelier extraordinaire). I never made it to Bastide so I wasn’t familiar with Joseph Mahon but after last night, da-yum…. Feed me, Chef!
The menu consisted of 5 courses ($56) with 2 supplementals ($10) and a wine pairing option for $54 (same pricing for 5 or 7 courses). Naturally, we opted to go for it all but we split the wine pairing 3 ways since the group had to work the next morning and I was driving.
First up was the Carrot Pudding with orange granita and shaved peanuts. This was paired with a blended wine – Champagne, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. A light and refreshing course, the peanuts added the right contrast and texture to the smooth “pudding”.
Next was one of my favorite dishes – Coconut Soup with mussels, tapioca, cilantro pistou, lime and tempura mushrooms. Flavor wise, it reminded me of a mild Thai curry. The mussels and the little bits of tapioca were a wonderful chewy addition. The tempura wasn’t oily or heavy and had a nice crispness despite sitting in the soup. I used my fingers to lick up the last remnents of the bowl. Don’t judge me. This was paired with a Junmai Daiginjo sake.
Third was a supplemental course – wild mushrooms with a béarnaise mousse, dashi, pork cheeks and rice paper. While delicious, my plate barely had any pork cheeks; Rock My Palate lucked out and apparently got my share. The crunchy, airy rice paper balanced the soft denseness of the mushrooms but it stuck to our teeth when we chewed. This was paired with an Anjou wine.
Fah-ried cheee-ken! I could have eaten a bucket of this succulent breaded bird. Served with a salad of arugula drizzled with a buttermilk dressing and thick bacon pieces, the dish was the Colonel gone refined. Neil, owner of Biergarten, came to our table around this time and we suggested he bribe Chef Mahon for the recipe and add it as a regular menu item. Perhaps, even pair it with the drunken chicken (Biergarten’s version of beer can chicken) for an awesome chicken combo… (pretty pretty pleeease?) Haskell interestingly paired the fried chicken with a blended Syrah, Grenache, Mouvedre wine. Like I said…Colonel gone refined.
So what comes after a rich, heavy dish like fried chicken? Why, butterfish, of course! This was a perfectly cooked, melt-in-your-mouth piece of sablefish on a bed of pickled cabbage and a mild kimchee broth paired with a beer of all things. Brouwerig Bosteels “Triple Karmeliet” to be exact.
The last of our “savory” dishes was the other supplemental – duck confit with lentils, Swiss chard and a black vinegar sauce. Haskell paired this with what he considered a not-so-tasty Cabernet Franc when drunk by itself. But when combined with the duck confit, it was transformed into a very pleasant drink. This man knows his stuff… The duck was nomilicious and the lentils…well, usually when I encounter lentils, they’re still too hard. These were cooked just right and I really liked them. I could become a lentils fan…
For dessert, we had a gingerbread waffle topped with cranberries, clover honey and whipped creme fraiche and paired with soju. I’m not a fan of overly sweet desserts so this was up my alley. The clover was all the sweet I needed while the cranberries added a little tartness. And who would have though soju could go with dessert? Besides, David Haskell, of course… And yes, we contemplated what combining the fried chicken from earlier and this waffle with clover honey would be like. Delicious, I imagine.
I know very little about wine, even less about beer and next to nothing about soju and sake. But the pairings were excellent and I could taste the flavors Haskell was trying to draw out. Mahon is an excellent chef and cook, executing his dishes with both technical and conceptual precision.
Service was excellent; the only snafu we ran into was a lag between the first and 2nd course but after that, our food arrived in a timely manner that allowed us to enjoy each dish and let it settle before the next course.
If you have nothing to do tonight, then head over to Biergarten for dinner. Magnum is only there till tonight. If not, don’t fret. We may see another pop-up from Mahon/Haskell in the near future. I’ve got my fingers crossed for that…and more fried chicken.
5 NOMs for Magnum!
Magnum Pop-up @ Biergarten
206 North Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90004