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.
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).
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).
Not as exotic as it sounds. Think shredded meat on a King's Hawaiian Roll. Pleasant.
Bacon-wrapped matzoh balls, horseradish mayonnaise ($5).
Welsh rarebit, fried egg ($15).
Unlike the matzoh balls, this was packed with flavor, namely a ton of Worcestire sauce.
Manischewitz-braised pork belly, clapshot, apples ($13).
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).
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!
The legendary Gribenes special! A fried chicken skin sandwich!
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).
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.