Monday, December 14, 2009

Go, Go, Gorbals!

Everyone in L.A. is buzzing about our current resident Top Chef winner, Michael Voltaggio, but he is not the only Colicchio-crowned champ in town.

Past winner Ilan Hall brings us The Gorbals, and it's worth a visit, even though it's in the semi-scary part of Downtown. Perhaps the location is part of the homage to the restaurant's gritty namesake.
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Located at the bottom of the somewhat run-down Alexandria Hotel, The Gorbals is dimly lit but has a warm and welcoming vibe.

Also warm and welcoming were Rants and Craves, yutjangsah, and The Delicious Life, who joined me to try Chef Hall's self-described "tasty, oddball food." I had such an awesome time with these girls at The Gorbals. So much cackling!

I enjoyed the food at The Gorbals, but I think everything could use a little cranking up. The place is fairly new, so I have high hopes that things will get better with time.

Butternut squash latkes, chestnut cream ($7).
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These latkes were nummy, but the chestnut cream really stole the show. We liked it so much that we were tempted to lick the little dish. We asked Chef Hall to give us a huge jar of it when we left. Sadly, he didn't have a huge jar of it already prepared for us. We were ready to smear ourselves silly with that cream. I bet it would make your skin really soft and delicious.

Sweet oxtail buns, turnip pickles ($15).
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Not as exotic as it sounds. Think shredded meat on a King's Hawaiian Roll. Pleasant.

Bacon-wrapped matzoh balls, horseradish mayonnaise ($5).
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Good, but two observations: (1) the balls themselves were nearly completely flavorless and relied too heavily on the bacon for flavor, and (2) they were way too tiny. Big points for total blasphemy, though.

Welsh rarebit, fried egg ($15).
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Unlike the matzoh balls, this was packed with flavor, namely a ton of Worcestire sauce.

Manischewitz-braised pork belly, clapshot, apples ($13).
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Nice. But not blow-you-away-oh-my-God-this-is-incredible nice. But still nice. And blasphemous. Go, blasphemy!

King oyster mushrooms, marrow, walnuts ($11).
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The pairing of the marrow with mushrooms and walnuts was lovely. I think there were apples in this, too, and I liked their acidity with the fat.

And here he is -- Ilan!
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When I told Chef Hall he was sexy, he protested, "Uh, I'm just giving you a deli sandwich."

The legendary Gribenes special! A fried chicken skin sandwich!
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Yes, chicken skin. Imagine a BLT on rye without the B -- substitute fried chicken skin for bacon, and you've got the Gribenes. Definitely the most interesting dish of the night. Definitely a must-order.

Sticky toffee pudding, nutella-buttermilk ice cream, maddon salt ($7).
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This was the one offering with which I wasn't so jazzed. Everything else made me pretty happy, but the pudding was slightly on the dry side, and the ice cream was a tad too sour and didn't have the right mouthfeel to me. I don't even know if mouthfeel is a real word. Blogger is telling me that it's not because it's underlining it in red, but I'm forging ahead. Mouthfeel. Wrong.

The Gorbals has a lot of potential. It's kind of the perfect place to hang out with friends who enthusiastically support your plans to open up a truck that sells boba, legal advice, and nail services. Oh, and the truck would haul around your dry cleaning, too. You'd have to follow it on Twitter to know where to pick up your wool suits.

Ok, maybe that's a little too specific.

Go to The Gorbals with some pals who like to try new things. I'll definitely be back to sample more of Chef Hall's ever-changing menu.


  1. Chef Hall is definitely sexy. It looks like he can cook too!

  2. I LOVED Ilan on Top Chef! That was the season where I really watched religiously.

    The food definitely looks interesting (and love the pork/Jewish combos, so funny), and if I lived in LA I would totally patronize your truck.

  3. Great post! I've been wondering when he was going to open his place, it seems like it's been a long time coming. I laughed out loud at some of your commentary, loves it!

  4. Great review. It's like reliving the meal all over again. Yum chicken skin. Boo matzah baby ball. I cant wait to twitter the dryclean kogi nail spa truck!!! Hilarious. We must all convene again for laugh session no 2.

  5. How fun! You always seem to meet the chefs ... impressive!

  6. Thanks for the review!! It's almost 9am and I'm already hungry for dinner!

  7. i saw a featurette on the gorbals on the news and have been intrigued ever since. cannot wait to try the fried chicken skin sandwich. i am alllll over that...

  8. It's good to see that Top Chef doesn't go to the contestants heads - he seems pretty down to earth.

  9. Chicken skin sandwich? Hellz, yeah! I think I'll give this place a few months to hit its stride, then I'll hit it up.

  10. Mouthfeel may not be a word, but mouth feel is a legitimate culinary term IMO. Sounds like a fun and yummy night!

  11. I have to admit that I didn't like Ilan very much on his season of TC, but I'm willing to put all that aside for a taste of the fried chicken skin sandwich.

  12. you had me at "fried chicken skin"...

  13. Hmm. Evidently these are not the same little furry creatures who like to run around inside a wheel. :P

  14. I love that you're a chef groupie. :)

  15. I love that you met ilan!

    and I would totally visit you in your truck. ;)

  16. Hmph. I still think Marcel should have won.

  17. I love how you told the chef he was sexy.

  18. Omg yes, Hall is HOT! And the fried chicken skin sandwich is right up my alley.

  19. See, now I need to go there so I can say I've had food from yet another Top Chef contestant. I kinda feel like I'm collecting the experiences like trading cards. Ha! ;)

  20. chicken skin sandwich = brilliant

  21. so close to my school yet so far. i miss dining with you.

  22. Ilan is uber cute, and I agree with everyone else - you had me at fried chicken skin sandwich.

  23. It's probably a good thing I wasn't there -- I might have been tempted to squeeze Ilan's buns.

    And not just the oxtail ones...

  24. i often give in to the temptation to lick little bowls that held scrumptious morsels.


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