Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hatchi at Breadbar (Los Angeles, CA) [3]

Hatchi at Breadbar
10250 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90067
Thu 06/24/2010, 07:30p-10:30p

BreadBar Exterior
When we last caught up with Walter Manzke, he was closing out his tenure at Church & State. The former Bastide chief was instrumental in establishing C&S as one of Los Angeles' premier bistro destinations, but unsurprisingly, the challenge of preparing escargots de Bourgogne day in and day out grew tiresome, and the Chef yearned for something that would allow him to get more "creative." Since leaving the restaurant, Manzke has been hard at work fine tuning the concept, lining up investors, and scouting out locations for his first solo venture (along with doing some consulting along the way), but precious few details have emerged about the place. Would he stay close to his French roots, or venture towards Asia, a mix of both? I was hoping that Hatchi would provide some clues.

My dining companions for this meal included Fiona of Gourmet Pigs (who provided the reservation--thanks!), Helen of I'm Hungry and Proud of It, and Mike of Right Way to Eat (who taught me a new term tonight--UBD, or Unofficial Blogger Date). However, given that this was a Walter Manzke dinner after all, LA's foodie cognoscenti turn out in droves; this was easily the largest turnout I've seen, ever. Here's the list (apologies to anyone I may have missed): Aaron of The Savory Hunter, Alana N. (lushseaweed), Andrea of The Foodie Traveler, Austin of Living to Eat (he's also a Pastry Cook at Westside Tavern), Bill of Street Gourmet LA, longtime kevinEats reader and Modern Family crew member Brian Resnick (apparently, they're working on an episode inspired by my food blogging antics!), aspiring restaurant impresario Brian Saltsburg, Daniel of Exploratory Dégustation, David "the modernist" C. from Yelp, Famished Foodie, Felicia of The Food Ledger, Freda of Potatomato, Hong of Ravenous Couple (sans Kim), Ivan, Jacqueline "ItsMeCoffeeGirl" C from Yelp, legendary restaurant reviewer and producer Jay Weston, Chef Jon Shook from Animal, Josh of Food GPS, Josie of Uncouth Gourmands, Julie Wolfson from LAist, Lesley Balla from Tasting Table, Lesley Bargar Suter from Los Angeles Magazine, Liberty Huang from Boobs4Food, Linden of The Gastronomnom, Liz of Food She Thought, Pam of Rants & Craves, Matt of MattBites, Matt of Mattatouille, Nicola of Marathon Appetite, Noelle of Drink 'n' Dive, Patrica of Life with a Whisk, Rachael Narins from private supper club Chicks with Knives (who will be cooking at Hatchi in August), Ryan of Epicuryan, photographer-foodie-Twitterato Ryan, Father's Office mogul Sang Yoon, Weezermonkey, Shauna of The Minty, Shawna Dawson from Sauce LA, Stephanie of Stuffy Cheaks, Tin (who I'd met at LudoBites), Tony of SinoSoul, Yelper Vinh (who I ran into on my last Hatchi visit as well), Wasima, and last but certainly not least, Zach of Midtown Lunch. Whew!

For the uninitiated, Hatchi is a series of one-night-only dinners at BreadBar in which a special guest chef prepares an octet of dishes, priced at a reasonable $8 each. Past participants have included (in order of appearance): Debbie Lee (Jun '09), Michael Voltaggio (Jul '09), Roberto Cortez (Aug '09), Remi Lauvand (Sep '09), Eda Vesterman (Oct '09), Waylynn Lucas (Nov '09), Marcel Vigneron (Dec '09), Ricardo Zarate (Jan '10), Iso Rabins (Feb '10), Kumiko Yagi/Ramon Perez (Mar '10), Saul Cooperstein (Apr '10), and Brian Redzikowski (May '10). Next Month, Makoto Okuwa of Sashi fame will serve as the guest of honor, while August brings us the dames of Chicks with Knives.

Walter Manzke Hatchi Menu
Here we see the night's menu--"Around the World"--which, as the name implies, features gastronomic influences from no less than eight different nations. In addition to the victuals, former C&S bartender, Névé Ice founder, and "drink smith" Michel Dozois offered up a troika of cocktails priced at $12 each, while wine pairings [$40] were the task of Adam Vourvoulis (who met Manzke during his tenure at Bouchee in Carmel). Click for a larger version.

'Shrimp Cocktail'
Amuse Bouche: "Shrimp Cocktail"
We began with the Chef's interpretation of a classic shrimp cocktail. I devoured the shrimp in one bite, and loved its snappy texture and subtly sweet-briny savor, complemented by a bit of bitterness from the char. I then shot the remaining vial of liquid, a great jolt to my palate showing fantastically complex, vegetal, and citric flavors over a wonderfully tangy base.

Bread Bar Epi
Bread Bar Epi [$8.00] | Foie Gras Butter
Since we were at BreadBar and all, I would've thought that the bread would be complementary. That being said, I suppose you're not paying for the bread, but for the magnificent foie gras butter (as if butter needed to become even more decadent). The essence of foie was actually fairly subdued, a flighty hint of liver-y goodness that added an undeniable depth, a certain gravity to your typical bread 'n' butter. What was great was that the foie only made itself known in the midpalate, while the finish was all about that sticky sweet gelée (honey?) on top. This may have been the best butter I've ever had. There was also an option to order the epi with French Échiré beurre [$3], but why?

Evan's Julep Untamed Cherries
I was curious about Dozois' cocktails (I never got to experience his handiwork at C&S), so I promptly ordered up an Evan's Julep, sort of a tropical take on the classic Mint Julep, with mango juice mixed in with the Evan Williams Bourbon. I quite liked the interplay between the mint and the mango's unabashed sweetness, but the finish was strangely medicinal for me. Helen, meanwhile, had an Untamed Cherries, made with lemon juice, cherries, yellow chili peppers, and an organic rum, Crusoe from the Greenbar Collective. This one showed plenty of cherry on the attack, but the finish was all about that lingering heat from the pepper.

Yellowtail Ceviche
Mexico: Yellowtail Ceviche [$8.00] | Jalapeno, Tomatillo Sorbet
Nariwa Ozeki Shuzo "Ohkagura" - Okayama, Japan
Our first proper course takes us south of the border. Let's start with the yellowtail, which was supple, weighty, a bit fatty, just as it should be. The cilantro in the amalgam bestowed a lightness, a green counterpoint to the heft of the fish, while the tomatillo added a prick of tartness, and the citrus bits, a touch of sweetness. Nice!

White Corn Curry Soup
Thailand: White Corn Curry Soup [$8.00] | Mussels, Coconut Tapioca
2007 Robert Weil Kabinett Halbtrocken - Rheingau, Germany
This soup effectively channeled the heady, pungent, piquant essence of a Thai tom kha soup. The corn provided somewhat of a sweet base to the dish, but the crux of course was the brine imparted by the mussels. Meanwhile, the tapioca contributed a bit of textural play, while its coconut flavor effectively moderated the power of the course. Some of the best mussels I've had in a while.

'Banh Mi' Pig's Feet Sliders
Vietnam: "Banh Mi" Pig's Feet Sliders [$8.00]
2009 Domaine de la Madone "Le Perréon" - Beaujolais, France
The humble, ubiquitous bánh mì: I've had a haute version at BondSt, a burger-ized version at The Six, but this is the first one that I've seen made with pieds de cochon. This was arguably my favorite dish of the night, as I absolutely adored the rich, succulent patties of pork-y goodness, encased in delectable panko-crusted shells. As tasty as the meat was, the inclusion of pickled veggies was essential, their tartness playing a perfect foil to the heft of the trotters. The sliders easily stood on their own, but I did enjoy applying the two paired sauces--one appeared to be some kind of aioli, while the other reminded me of Sriracha--as well.

English Pea Ravioli
Italy: English Pea Ravioli [$8.00] | Soft Egg, Parmesan
NV Gruet "Blanc de Noirs" - Engle, New Mexico
Peas, Parm, pasta, and poached egg. It's hard to go too wrong with these ingredients. Upon mastication, the light, bright flavors of the peas vigorously burst forth from their ravioli wrappers, where they met with the luscious, creamy richness of egg, augmented by the weight of Parmesan. I would've liked some more saltiness from the cheese, though.

Hidden Secret
At this point, I requested the third cocktail of the night, which looked somewhat liked a goblet of witbier! Rather, it was the Hidden Secret, comprised of lemon juice, grape tomatoes, maraschino cordial, and True organic Gin. This was easily my favorite concoction of the night; I loved its complex mishmash of spicy, herbal, and sour flavors--excellent.

Santa Barbara Spot Prawn
Spain: Santa Barbara Spot Prawn [$8.00] | Garlic, Sherry
La Cosecha Manzanilla Pasada Sherry - Andalucia, Spain
Santa Barbara spot prawns seem to be the restaurant ingredient du jour these days, and here, Manzke uses them in his interpretation of the classic tapas dish gambas al ajillo. Unfortunately, one of my prawns was a bit overdone, but the other was perfect: sweet, snappy, and oh-so briny (reminded me of Providence's). I really enjoyed the prawns alone, and thus, for me, the accoutrements weren't even necessary.

Tarte Flambe
France: Tarte Flambe [$8.00] | Caramelized Onion, Bacon, Gruyere
2007 Friedrich Becker Pinot Noir - Pfalz, Germany
For his final savory of the night, Manzke returns to his old standby country, France, and an old standby dish from Church & State, flammkuchen. Originating near the Alsace region, the tarte flambée comprises a thin layer of bread, topped with various accompaniments, and baked in a wood-burning oven. The result is a pizza-esque contraption, with a delightfully crisp crust. Here, I enjoyed the interplay between the salty bacon and soothing Gruyère, but found the caramelized onions a touch sweet for my tastes.

Leche Flan
Philippines: Leche Flan [$8.00] | Pandan, Coconut Ice Cream
NV Jonata "La Miel de Jonata" - Santa Ynez Valley, California
Our first dessert was the Filipino take on the omnipresent crème caramel. The flan was somewhat denser than usual, with a stronger eggy note than I'm accustomed to. However, it was deftly balanced by the use of pandan and coconut, both of which lent a sweet, floral character to the dessert that really livened things up. Surprisingly good!

Volcán de mi Tierra Tequila Reposado
At this point, Bill was kind enough to pour me a bit of the tipple that he had brought: the Volcán de mi Tierra Tequila Reposado. I generally don't drink too much tequila, but this really was quite delicious, with a nose full of vanilla, which continued onto the palate, where it was joined by lovely nutty, woody flavors. Provecho!

Chocolate Fondant
Japan: Chocolate Fondant [$8.00] | Bing Cherries, Black Sesame Ice Cream, Green Tea
Rare Wine Company Historic Series New York Malmsey
We end our culinary voyage in Japan. The combination of chocolate and cherries is a classic one, but Manzke kicks things up a notch with the inclusion of kuro goma and matcha. The sesame ice cream provided a slightly nutty component the dessert that played nicely with the chocolate, while the green tea added a tinge of astringency to the mix.

Josie & Walter Manzke
Chef Manzke chats it up with Josie--just look at that smile!

Though I appreciated the calibre of cuisine Manzke was creating over at Church & State, I always knew that he was capable of--and wanted to do--more. With regard to the Chef, I once wrote that "I still yearn for a stage where he can cook with the inexorable flair, unbridled enthusiasm, and relentless ingenuity that I know he has in him." It looks like that time may have finally come. If the experience at Hatchi is any indication of the character of Manzke's new restaurant, then my high hopes are justified, and you can bet that I'll be there in earnest, opening night, of course.


Blogger Kung Food Panda said...

Looks like a fun meal. I had a reservation but decided to back out on it. I'll try Manzke at his own place down the road. As usual, you got this out fast!

Friday, June 25, 2010 1:17:00 AM  
Blogger thngotiatr said...

Your post on tonight's dinner eases my hunger pains a bit as my rsvp was mixed up and my late shoe-in left me missing out on more than half of the menu. The Hatchi series has been great but I wish they'd get more organized and plan out ingredients more as this isn't the first time I've had issues with menu items with a later rsvp time. Good to see you as always.

Friday, June 25, 2010 2:09:00 AM  
Blogger stuffycheaks said...

Man, you are fast! My favorites were the Pig's Feet sliders (OMG, fatty goodness) and the tarte (I actually enjoyed the sweetness from the onions). What a great night! BTW, it's Stephanie :)

Friday, June 25, 2010 9:53:00 AM  
Blogger Nomsnotbombs said...

How impressive that nearly everything was great! Nice post, Kevin!

Friday, June 25, 2010 9:59:00 AM  
Blogger weezermonkey said...

Good God, did you bring your laptop to the restaurant?

I think we had vastly different experiences. I can't say my review will be so positive. Service was atrocious.

Friday, June 25, 2010 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger nelehelen said...

you are so fast!! i was thinking of taking a picture of the tequila bottle too, but i didn't.. lol

and while the service always seem to just plain suck, the food was good...

it was great to see everyone too!

Friday, June 25, 2010 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Food, she thought. said...

My seafood courses were far and away the best. The bun of my banh mi was drenched in grease...dunno how I missed you. Your must have snuck out while we were eating at the bar.

Friday, June 25, 2010 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hats off to Chef Manzke on the Filipino Leche Flan! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Most don't or frankly don't get the cuisine at all. Maybe this is the decade it goes mainstream. I just hope people don't screw it up and make it something that it's not, like Filipino-Fusion.

As always, good reporting on your part.

Friday, June 25, 2010 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Ravenous Couple said...

agreed--best buttah evah had! Nice to finally meet! Great quality for the price.

Friday, June 25, 2010 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Gastronomer said...

Thanks for staying up late and cranking out a post! Much appreciated. Walter is so awesome. Can't wait for him to open up his own joint.

Even though your other commenter would disagree, I hope it's Filipino fusion.

Friday, June 25, 2010 11:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must have pulled an all-nighter to get that up so quickly and comprehensively! Nice work.

Great pics as usual and that first paragraph can serve as a who's who in LA dining!

Friday, June 25, 2010 1:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Noelle said...

I'm very glad you got to try everything - we missed out on the fondant, the tarte flambe and the raviolis. And the service, like Weezermonkey said... not good.
I will be at Chicks with Knives in August, but will pass on July.
Although, I will go to see Julian Cox next week!
You're speedy, and thanks for the shout out!

Friday, June 25, 2010 2:38:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

i was there as well... "modernist" from chowhound and yelp.... haha.

non blogger... but i brought freda of potatomato and a couple other chinks.

food was tasty. portions were precious. we ordered everything, but they ran out of the ravioli and tarte d'alsace (which i had already had at church and state anyhow). of course they didn't tell this to us till our desserts started arriving and we were like "whoah... hold up... we still have savory". we also didn't receive the amuse, which was a bummer.

i liked the trotter banh mi, but i think that turning trotter meat into a crunchy croquette is cheating, and therefore taking away the "foot-ness of the foot" the same way that turning pigs ears into chicharron or fries tries to mask it into something its not... i think the best fancy banh mi i've had is that from palate food+wine at the gold standard event...and second place going to momofuku ssam bar.

i loved the flavor of the spot prawns and like a good chinaman, i pulled it apart and sucked out the brains and other shimp detritus.

hamachi was good if a bit ordinary. but what human being can say no to yellowtail?

mussels were plump and perfectly cooked.

foie gras butter i just wanted to slather all over my body.

in conclusion, i enjoyed the meal although i was still hungry as we left.

Friday, June 25, 2010 4:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had a horrible experience. They sat us 25 minutes late only to reveal they were sold out of almost everything. The little I tried left me cold (and hungry).

Friday, June 25, 2010 5:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As we watched the plates of Ravioli and Tarte Flambe fly past us, long after we were told they were all sold out, we decided against opening any of the wine we'd brought. In retrospect, if they'd had the honesty to tell us, as we stood outside waiting half an hour after our reservation time, that they were sold out of 70% of the petite menu, we could've gone to Houston's or ANYWHERE and actually been fed!

Friday, June 25, 2010 7:40:00 PM  
Anonymous lushseaweed said...

that foie gras butter was the best I ever had. I could have eaten more...

Friday, June 25, 2010 8:11:00 PM  
Blogger stuffycheaks said...

hey Kevin, i was at the outside table beside Tony's. Hope to see you soon and get a proper intro :)

Friday, June 25, 2010 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger gourmetpigs said...

Can't believe you blogged this before .. 3 am? Crazy, although most ppl would get food coma and fall asleep after a meal like this, when do you sleep Kevin? :p

Saturday, June 26, 2010 12:52:00 AM  
Blogger Austin S. said...

yeah... by far the biggest foodie/blogger turn out we've seen!

oh... and I'm just a pastry COOK, not THE pastry chef... I don't want people to think I'm higher up than I really am

Saturday, June 26, 2010 1:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Breadbar's defense, these events are more complex to coordinate than they appear to be. I worked with them during Brian Redzikowski's event and there is very little time for all staff to get accustomed with the menu.
The Chef's staff and the servers from Breadbar also work together for the first time during these nights. Mistakes or lack of synchronization can come from the front of house just as they can from back of house or the bar.

Fortunately, Brian's event went well. Reservations were spread out and we brought in 5 people to help coordinate between front and back.

Saturday, June 26, 2010 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger bagnatic said...

the food looks good. sad to have missed this blogger clusterfuck. ok, not so sad. had to study :) loving your pics as usual.

Sunday, June 27, 2010 6:16:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Danny: How come you decided not to come? I heard you were at Momed.

Vinh: They've been doing the Hatchi series for a year now, so you'd think that they would have figured it out by now!

Stephanie: Yeah it was too bad we missed each other. I've updated the post with your name. ;)

Misty: Thanks! You totally should've come out.

WM: No laptop, but I was thinking about what I was going to write while I was eating each dish lol. Our service was passable, though they did manage to spill the little shot glass that came with the last dessert. I just try to look past it when I'm at these Hatchi events, and really focus on the food.

Helen: Yeah having you at my table was a pleasant surprise. So what did you think of that tequila, anyway?

Liz: Yeah, I was seated along the left wall inside. I was looking for you, but to no avail. So you gonna blog about this one?

Jocelyn: I'm surprised about the leche flan. It's pretty similar to a standard creme caramel, so I don't see why people wouldn't like it. Is the use of pandan typical?

Hong: Great to finally meet you too (surprised it took so long)!

Cathy: You're quite welcome. Definitely looking forward to what Walter has in store for us. Didn't stay up too late, though. ;)

Linden: Actually, I think it got it out before 2:00; I was already writing the post in my head as the meal went along. I love that huge paragraph as well; we really do have a great food blogger community here in LA.

Noelle: Yeah, it's too bad that you guys had to miss out on so many courses. :( Hopefully August will be kinder.

David: Great mini-review; I think you captured the essence of the meal nicely lol! I've added you and Freda to "the list."

Anon: Sadly, it sounds like your experience wasn't atypical. :p

Anon: Par for the course. So what did you actually get to eat?

Alana: Agreed. I wanted more bread! Added you to the list, too.

Fiona: Before 2AM. ;) It actually wasn't that much food; I could've eaten a Double-Double afterward. I think I slept around 3:00.

Austin: Indeed. I've updated the post to say a pastry cook, but you'll be the chef someday. ;)

Anon: Thanks for your insight on the issue of service. My question then becomes: since there are known issues, why not start the coordination process between the Chef and Breadbar earlier?

Amy: You should be sad, very sad. :)

Sunday, June 27, 2010 6:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Patricia said...

Wow - good eye, Kevin! It was very much a dine-and-dash situation that night so I regretfully didn't get a chance to say hello (or survey the room thoroughly, apparently). They were surprisingly able to get all our dishes out without much of a pause (but only after waiting half an hour for a menu), and we were able to make it to our next commitment only slightly tardy, so they did redeem themselves in that respect. Hope to actually run into you soon.

Monday, June 28, 2010 9:57:00 PM  
Blogger Magic of Spice said...

Great write up...Everything looks wonderful!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 9:13:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Patricia: Don't worry, there were plenty of people that I didn't get a chance to say hi to either. Hopefully you enjoyed the meal!

Magic of Spice: Thanks! Did you make it out?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 4:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Jai Kohli said...

So sad I missed it. Know when Walter's restaurant is opening?

Thursday, July 01, 2010 9:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Rachael said...

It was super nice meeting you that night, and you were extremely gracious letting me interrupt your meal with my thank you. Grin.

I have to agree there are a lot of problems with the event in general (service/flow/communication) but I also quite liked the food (got there early enough to get everything) and really look forward to trying our hands at it in August.

OH...and thank you for including that you saw us there! XOXO

Saturday, July 03, 2010 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Jai: How did the interview go? Unfortunately we weren't able to find out much more about his upcoming project.

Rachael: Great meeting you too--I'm looking forward to August!

Monday, July 05, 2010 12:56:00 AM  
Anonymous TheFoodieTraveler said...

Hi Kevin,

It was great seeing you at Hatchi. As always, you did a fantastic job blogging the event. Glad you had a good experience. Walter has been my favorite chef in LA since bastide, and we were really looking forward to this dinner. Ignoring all the operational issues I have come to expect of Hatchi dinners, I found that dinner to be one of the worst from an execution standpoint. A few of the mussels were bad, the ravioli was very undercooked, the flatbread was overcooked to the point of being burned, the pigs feet were dripping grease, etc. Perhaps I am pickier than most, and I guess I should be happy we actually got to try everything before they ran out, but we were very disappointed all-in-all.

Monday, July 05, 2010 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Andrea, those are some serious issues that you encountered, so I don't think that you're picky or unreasonable, just unlucky! My table had none of the problems that you mentioned fortunately. I'm sure (I hope) that the kitchen will be more up to snuff at Walter's actual restaurant.

Thursday, July 08, 2010 8:52:00 PM  
Blogger Daniel S. said...

Thanks, Kevin, for the mention. Great write-up and pics as usual. I hadn't been to Church & State when chef Manzke was there so this was my first time experiencing his cuisine. Service was lacking in some areas but the food was mostly great. Looking forward to his restaurant when it opens.

Friday, July 16, 2010 8:46:00 AM  

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