Monday, April 18, 2011

Magnum Crew at Royal/T (Culver City, CA)

Magnum at Royal/T
8910 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232
323.798.4648
magnumfb.com
Mon 04/18/2011, 07:30p-11:55p




Royal/T

It's time for another rousing round of Joseph Mahon and David Haskell's curiously-titled Magnum Crew pop-up, held this time around from April 17th to 19th at Culver City's Royal/T Cafe (which most of us will remember as the former digs of LudoBites 3.0). Given the recent disaster in Japan, 5% of sales, as well as the bulk of the silent auction proceeds, were donated to a charitable fund set up by the Japan Sake Brewers Association.

Assisting Mahon in the kitchen were Michael Voltaggio/Ink chefs AJ Ramirez and Klein Debow, as well as Sam Kim, acting as aboyeur for the evening. Meanwhile, Akili Steward (now with hair) from The Royce kept things going in the front-of-the-house with Haskell.

Magnum Crews at Royal/T Menu
Tonight's Japanese-inspired menu was priced at five courses for $62, seven courses for $80, or nine courses for $105--guess which one we chose. As for the wine, my advice is to split it. Click for a larger version.

Amuse Bouche
Amuse Bouche | Cured Thai Snapper / Shrimp Chips
Our amuse bouche course paired the clean, tangy flavors of snapper with the mouth-watering savor of shrimp chips (very reminiscent of Calbee's Kappa Ebisen variety). A tasty teaser to begin the meal.

Oysters
1: Oysters | Brown Butter and Lemon
Von Buhl "Brut": Riesling: Bad Durkheim, Germany
The brown butter provided a certain gravitas to the oyster that tempered its inherent brine; simultaneously, it also lent a weightiness to the otherwise tart-ish sparkling Riesling. However, the mollusk's inherent salinity made itself known on the long, lingering finish, and was actually intensified by the presence of the wine.

Potato Chip Soup
2: Potato Chip Soup | Ramps / Cucumber / Fried Oysters
2008 Batic: Pinela: Sempas, Slovenia
Here was Mahon's riff on vichyssoise (the traditional cold potato-leek potage). It was a hearty, satisfying soup, unabashedly savory and redolent of potato-y goodness, beautifully balanced by the vegetal flavors of ramps and cucumber. I especially enjoyed the salt and crunch imparted by the chips, and wanted a whole bunch more of those delectable fried oysters.

Fennel Royale
3: Fennel Royale | Sea Urchin / Apple Cloud / Nori Powder
2009 Riviera Ligure di Ponente: Pigato: Durin, Italy
One of our favorite courses of the evening, the royale deftly tied together the sugary salinity of Santa Barbara uni with fennel, apple, dashi, and nori, making for a sweet, umami-laced mélange of tastes and textures. The sweetness in the dish linked up nicely to the fresh, bright flavors of the paired Pigato, recalling what Haskell described as a "candy apple."

Crispy Tofu
4: Crispy Tofu | Sunflower Seeds / Cilantro / Marinated Vegetables / Dashi Emulsion
Kiuchi Brewery: Hitachino Nest White Ale: Ibaraki, Japan
Next up was perhaps the most unconventional dish of the night. The tofu itself I found silky and supple, with very little flavor of its own. Thus, the sunflower seeds were key in adding a nutty, earthy relish to the bean curd, while the marinated vegetables contributed a much-needed touch of piquancy to things. The beer, Hitachino Nest White Ale, was one that I'd had before, but it worked very, very well here. Its spicy, citrus-y flavors were delicious alone, yet expertly moderated by the tofu.

Tuna Rolls with Crab
5: Tuna Rolls with Crab | Jicama / Mango / Spicy Mayonnaise
2008 Francois Pinon "Silex Noir": Chenin Blanc: Vouvray, France
Augmented by the inclusion of mango, the crab was undeniably sweet, yet finished by a lovely bit of brine. Meanwhile, the tuna actually helped ground the dish, and I appreciated the slight prick of heat from the mayo. The wine here was a Chenin Blanc, and showed off a nice bit of fruitiness that was further accented by the mango.

Braised Baby Octopus
6: Braised Baby Octopus | Leek Risotto / Shaved Cashews / Pancetta Vinaigrette
2009 Jean Paul-Brun: Chardonnay: Beaujolais, France
Octopus was a bit chewy unfortunately, but still enjoyable. Its dark, heavy flavors were deftly matched by the brightness of the paired leek risotto, and I definitely liked the salt imparted by the pancetta.

Ocean Trout
7: Ocean Trout | Peas / Mint / Oyster Mushrooms / Lobster Jus
2007 G. Descombes "Villes Vignes": Gamay: Brouilly, France
My favorite course of the evening, the trout was easily one of the best preparations of the fish that I've had in a while. It arrived pleasantly rare, with an intense, invigorating ocean-y relish that was further heightened by the use of lobster jus. At the same time, the mushrooms added a delightful earthiness to the dish, while the peas and mint helped to lighten things up.

Miso Cured Hangar Steak
8: Miso Cured Hangar Steak | Creamed Spinach / Shitake Mushroom Tempura / Sesame Seeds / Ponzu Sauce
2007 Eric Texier "Vaison La Romaine": Grenache: Cote du Rhone, France
Our final savory, hangar steak had a lovely amount of chew, as well as a profound depth of flavor tarted up a notch by the inclusion of ponzu. The beef paired beautifully with the spinach, which also helped balance out the wine, and I thoroughly enjoyed the slice of tempura'd mushroom.

Yuzu Crème Brulee
9: Yuzu Crème Brulee | Poached Apricots / Kumquats
D. Delecheneau Domaine La Grange Rose: Cab France, Cot: Loire, France
For dessert, the natural richness of the crème brûlée was nicely perked up by the addition of yuzu, and I appreciated the additional tartness of the apricot and kumquat. Good flavors, but I found the custard too thin and too gritty; I was looking for more of a dense, luscious, creamy consistency.

Another promising performance from the duo of Joseph Mahon and David Haskell. The two are currently looking for a space on the West Side to house a permanent version of Magnum, which is targeted to open by the end of the third quarter. In the meantime, Mahon has signed a sub-lease for a spot in Downtown Fullerton. It'll be a much more casual concept, and will debut by the end of next month if all goes according to plan. Stay tuned...

8 Comments:

Anonymous Marian the Foodie said...

I wanted a whole bag of those fried oysters!!! The uni dish was my favorite. So divine :)

No pics of Jo's gift to David and Joseph I see... HAHAHA!

Thursday, April 21, 2011 8:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Darin said...

Were the drink pairings as good as, or better than last time?

Thursday, April 21, 2011 8:25:00 AM  
Blogger KrisDub said...

It was a fine night. Good to finally meet you in the flesh! Maybe next time we can meet at the same table. Nice post, great photos as always.

Thursday, April 21, 2011 9:24:00 AM  
Blogger gourmetpigs said...

where's the photo of the "grand finale"?

Saturday, April 23, 2011 4:31:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Marian: Don't you wish that you could've taken Jo's gift home? ;)

Darin: They were just as good, if not better.

Kristen: Great to finally meet you too!

Fiona: I was requested not to post.

Sunday, April 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Darin said...

I'm really curious what this 'grand finale" was now...

Sunday, April 24, 2011 6:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Marian the Foodie said...

Hell no! That thing was scary... But I bet YOU did ;p lol

Sunday, April 24, 2011 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Darin: It wasn't as interesting as last time's.

Marian: As Patty said, "that would hurt."

Thursday, April 28, 2011 12:23:00 PM  

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