Last week, we had our first “pop-up dinner” experience with roomforty at the Lacy Studio Lofts. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, it’s a temporary restaurant set up for a limited engagement in an unconventional space. After I stumbled across these incredible photos of Roomforty’s last pop-up dinner at the Last Bookstore in downtown LA (which is my new favorite bookstore in LA) I could hardly resist signing up.
The evening started out with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails in the garden, and dinner took place in one of the loft units. There are many things that roomforty takes pride in, including the fact that all of their servers are eager and enthusiastic to share the stories behind each dish with you. I’m failing my readers in not remembering what the various hors d’oeuvres were, but if I remember correctly, the ones below were served on a bed of fantastic house-made kimchee that they started preparing four weeks earlier.
It was a challenge to get photos by candlelight (and M asking if I really had to take photos of ALL the food) but here was the menu for the evening:
Compressed peach, satsuma marmalade, cranberry “caviar”, pop rocks, tangerine lace
(An excellent amuse, and the pop-rocks were just the right finishing touch.)
grilled octopus, crushed watermelon ceviche, grilled ramps, licorice fingerling potato chips
carrots 4 ways, chicken liver mousse, agnolotti, buerre fondue
The carrot was cooked to just the right firmness and texture, and reminded me of an excellent carrot dish we had at Michael Voltaggio’s restaurant, Ink. The agnolotti pasta dough was a good level of chewiness, but I thought the chicken liver mousse overpowered the dish.
lamb forcemeat cylinders, grilled plum marmalade, guinness apple puree, baby turnips
For this this, they rolled the lamb tightly in chard, and cooked it “sous-vide” (sealed in an airtight bag and cooked in a water bath for many hours.) I wasn’t quite as wowed with this dish as I wanted to be. It was just a tad on the cool side, and one bite yielded a piece of bone. But then another bite was a melt-in-your-mouth piece of lamb, and the chard was undeniably tasty.
pliable nutella chocolate, cocao soil, marinated cherries, flavored marshmallow
This was an interesting dessert concept. I forget how they did it, but somehow the pastry chef was able to mold the nutella into square tubes, and squeeeezed it onto the plates. The flavors were perhaps a tad too subtle, and I was more enamored by the idea than the execution.
After all the courses were served, roomforty founder Steve Fortunado brought out his entire staff, from the chefs to the servers, and then they all mingled with us for a bit. Of course, they all asked us if we enjoyed it, but it was really fun to ask Chef Libry what HIS favorite dish was, and to hear him say with pride, the octopus. As I mentioned at the top of this post, and as Steve mentioned several times during the course of the dinner, this is a company that clearly takes pride in all of the work that they do, and they definitely do an excellent job.
All in all, I was quite happy with the experience, and thought it was well worth the $75 per head. M was not so keen since he doesn’t eat red meat and so he basically missed out on the entire main course, so if you have a special needs diet, this may not be a good choice for you. We were also assigned seats in the communal tables, so if you are nerds like us, you may be uncomfortable making small talk with people you don’t know. (Actually, our table mates were quite interesting and easy to talk to.)
I’ll also admit that I was a little disappointed when they finally announced the location, since it’s basically down the street from our own loft and I was hoping for something super unusual like the Last Bookstore again, but I understand that these things are hard to pull together. I’m happy we went, and I had a good time!