Breadbar's Hatchi Series features a guest chef every month for a "one-night-only suite of plates, including six savory dishes and two sweet creations." Each plate is $8.
Past guest chefs include Michael Voltaggio, Marcel Vigneron, Debbie Lee, Waylynn Lucas, Saul Cooperstein, Brian Redzikowski, Roberto Cortez, Ricardo Zarate, Eda Vesterman, Iso Rabins, Kuniko Yagi, and Remi Lauvand.
In light of Chef Walter Manzke's recent departure from the wonderful Church & State, the geeky food-blogging masses mobbed Breadbar for this event. Who knows when Chef Manzke will resurface with his new restaurant? Gotta catch him while we can.
Chef Manzke took us on a culinary tour around the world in eight dishes. A big thank you to my pal Daily Gluttony for inviting sinosoul, his wife, and me to join her!
Also, special shout-out to Stuffy Cheaks, who sat next to us, and Exploratory Degustation, who stood right behind us as we waited for our table. It's fun to see other bloggers you already know (even the ones who pretend not to know you, despite the fact you've met six times before) (and we saw 58 billion of them this night) (including the snooty ones who don't say hello), but it's a special treat to meet new bloggers (especially friendly ones)!
Breadbar epi with foie gras butter ($8).
So rich and decadent that I'm giving you two photos to better admire that fabulous flecked foie fat. Why can't all butter be like this?
Mexico: Yellowtail ceviche, jalapeño, tomatillo sorbet ($8).
Fresh. Nice texture. Fine. But I'm not buying that jalapeño + hamachi = "Mexico."
Thailand: White corn curry soup, mussels, coconut tapioca ($8).
Jitlada, this is not. Fresh. Nice texture. Fine. Again.
Spain: Santa Barbara spot prawns, garlic, sherry ($8).
Forgettable. Not nearly as good as a similar dish I'd enjoyed at Church & State. Also not sure what makes this "Spain."
Vietnam: Banh mi pig's feet sliders ($8).
Lee's Sandwiches. Very enjoyable. Fried, golden, juicy, and just salty enough with lovely, tangy, crunchy pickled daikon and carrot shreds. Fancy finger food that's worth your time.
Italy: English pea ravioli, soft egg, parmesan ($8).
My favorite of the night, mostly because of the perfectly cooked soft egg. This was all about tenderness. Tender pasta. Tender egg. Love me tender. Love me true. All my dreams fulfilled.
And here is where I take a moment to bitch about the atrocious service at Breadbar.
Bad service doesn't usually faze me. What matters to me most about a meal is the food. I eat at places where servers grunt and shove dishes at me, and I still leave happy because what I ate was great. Food can usually triumph over bad service.
But sometimes bad service is so bad that it really ruins everything. This is what happened to us this night.
In reading other bloggers' accounts, I've discovered that we never received an amuse bouche at all.
Not amused. Literally, no less.
We waited eons between dishes. My mouth felt like the Sahara because my water glass was rarely filled. There were no apologies for the wait or assurances that food would come out soon.
And then, after we finished our ravioli dish above (well, not exactly "after" -- more like "long after"), we were served our desserts.
"Um, where is our tarte flambe? We didn't get that yet."Needless to say, we waited a hell of a long time for our fancy flatbreads to arrive.
"What? No, this is your dessert."
"No, we still have two more orders of an entree. Two pizzas."
"You ordered that?"
When it was truly time for dessert, I'm pretty sure we were served the same damn two desserts that we'd been mistakenly presented before. The ice cream was a melted mess.
I shake my fist at you, Breadbar. Your disorganization and scatterbrained service marred our entire Manzke meal. Booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
Ok, now that I've gotten that out, let's proceed with the food show.
France: Tarte flambe, caramelized onion, bacon, Gruyere ($8).
flammenküche I had at Church & State impressed me more than this supposedly identical offering. Or maybe I was still angry about the shitty service. Still, this sweet pizza with bacon was rather photogenic. Click, click.
Philippines: Leche flan, pandan, coconut ice cream ($8).
You see that puddle? See that? Ugh. Puddled ice cream notwithstanding, the flan had an excellent consistency and was not too sweet. Well done, Chef.
Japan: Chocolate fondant, Bing cherries, black sesame ice cream, green tea ($8).
Bonus Breadbar bakery buy: Berry yogurt tart (not a Manzke product).
When you're waiting long enough between courses that you could knit full blankets, members of your party wander over to the bakery and secure interim nourishment that is neither Manzke-made nor a sensible insertion into your purported culinary world tour.
And you eat it because your real food hasn't made it to the table yet.
While we certainly experienced some high points during the night, I can't lie. This night was a pretty big disappointment. I hope not all the Hatchi nights are like this.
Breadbar, you did Chef Manzke a great disservice with your service.