Monday, December 12, 2011

EL Ideas

It's been a LONG time since Erica and I ventured to the 1400 block of South Western Ave to experience a very unique dining experience. My friend Russ had a table for two but couldn't use it so I got the offer just a day or two before our meal. Normally a table for two would not be that big a deal but when there are only 16 seats four nights a week given out lottery style, I took advantage of Russ's poor fortune. The background is that Chef Phillip Foss (formerly of Lockwood) started one of the city's first food trucks called Meatyball's Mobile. Using the same kitchen/prep area as the truck, he turned an obscure catering facility into a 12ish seat BYO "dinner party" experience featuring his creative take on food and local ingredients. The menu is a prepaid cost of $135, features 12ish courses and all the booze you can bring. The atmosphere is extraordinary and fun since your table is mere feet from the kitchen and the only people in the building besides the guests are the three chefs and front of house maestro. You are encouraged to get up and walk around, converse in the kitchen, help plate food, whatever your interests are. When they say dinner party, they truly mean dinner party.

My overall opinion of our evening was that it was a creative and unique dining experience that was a lot of fun but that the food served did not have the necessary flavors to live up the hype or money involved. Maybe I was unprepared but the dinner felt very long. The meal started promptly at 7pm and we were the first guests to leave at 11pm after 2 bottles of wine and 12 courses. I'm all for a multi-course relaxing meal but this seemed to be 1 hour too long. In addition, I'd probably have a slightly different view if I thought every course was fantastic and couldn't wait for the next one. At the end of most courses I felt myself HOPING for a tastier course next time instead of expecting one. Another complaint is that every course's main ingredient looked amazing on paper, but then the plate came with other side ingredient that over powered and focus and left me wondering what happened the focus. There was too much effort to make each dish special and distracted from great flavors.

Since the menu changes almost daily it doesn't do any good to rehash everything course by course. Feel free to email me if you want more detail. I will say though that the first course was memorably because it was a foie gras "snake" custard that was served without any utensils - you had to lick the plate clean. I also really loved the impromptu "buffalo chicken" course with a tiny piece of meat on a small bone served with a shot of PBR. Delicious. I'd have to dig up my menu to remember what everything else was, but we also won't forget the highlight ending of chocolate salty balls on a skewer.  EL is a great place to have a fun and unique dining experience. It's off the beaten path, exclusive and hard to get in, BYO and uses creative ingredients. I can see how a cult following exists/is created. If I had more time and money I'm sure I'd return a lot sooner than I will, but I do think it's worth checking out for those interested in these kinds of meals.

EL Ideas on Urbanspoon


  1. We are going here this month and I'm so curious to see what it's all about. The fact there was a course with no utensils intrigues me and admittedly, freaks me out a little bit :)

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