Fuck the world bitches! Blood, Color. Chaos. Ultra-modern. Sleek. These are the words that come to mind when I think back to my experience at the Man Behind the Curtain.
Very avant-garde with a kind of sex, drugs, and rock and roll irreverent vibe.
The chef kind of looks like Vince Neil come to think of it.
It was like eating dinner at a Karl Lagerfeld runway show. Even the bathroom had those Japanese toilets that wash your ass, but also with bright gold yellow toilet paper. It made my shit look a work of Jackson Pollack’s abstract art. The food I just ate made an artistic comeback to compliment my experimental sensory experience as I followed the Yellow Brick Road to meet the Wizard.
This place was more like a magic show than a dinner. I mean this in the most entertaining and flattering way possible. Even the Petit Prince (our som) thus named because of his star-studded Givenchy suit, was like the rabbit of Alice in Wonderland that led us down the rabbit hole of gastronomic adventure.
Here was the menu. We opted for the permanent collection. We did not want to go all out with the largest course meal, but I believe we only got 12 of the options listed below, as we had been binge eating every night thus far.
Here was the veal sweetbread XO slider. It was like an umami bomb drenched in XO sauce which at first we thought was a macaroon but instead was like a miniature McRib sandwich.
Inside the little heart was a hand-massaged octopus with capers and lemon on a rock. I forget what this palate cleanser was. It may have been the yogurt item listed on the menu or a crazy coconut milk cocktail that Le Petit Prince conjured up for us.
Then this was the Denia red prawn. Reminded me of our Sicily trip, as this was a common catch in that area. Red prawn comes from very deep and cold waters in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Denia is a region in Spain where they take their red prawns very seriously. They even have their own yearly competition for it. Check the article below. You can make a whole trip out of this one region in Spain as highlighted in another blog which I also attached below.
What a tender and flavorful dish that really got the party started in my mouth. It may look simple but there is an exact science to how long they steam it before putting it into some ice bath to stop the cooking process so that it has that perfect live prawn sashimi texture. Amazing presentation as well.
Just all the marble everywhere with the brass and stone bar cart was turning me on.
Now for the prawn heads after the sashimi, like we always do at sushi. But instead of tempura prawn heads, they were grilled on charcoal. Heavenly… I was slurping the brains out of everyone’s portion as everyone at the table knows I am a crustacean brain sucker to the max.
OMG, look at that brain juice!!!!!!!
Then came the Ackee with salt fish and tripe dumpling. I knew not of what the hell this was until I found out that it is like the national Sunday brunch of Jamaica. Given the influence of the Windrush generation of Carribean immigrants that came to the UK during the post-war labor shortages, there are all these culturally hybrid dishes that emerged and have become a part of the UK food culture it seems. Similarly to the lamb kabob reference from L’enclume, about the chef’s influence from this ethnic cuisine.
So Ackee is this lychee-like fruit that was brought to Jamaica from Ghana. They mix the dried fruit paste with salt-fish to make this dish. It looked like it was garnished with saffron. What an intense yellow color.
If I had to compare it to some food memory I’d say it was like a chicken Mc Nugget drenched in that old hot mustard sauce they used to have. This is my second MacDonald reference, which makes me wonder if this is the motivation behind this artwork.
Here comes the Emancipation. Not sure where the meaning is in this.
Apparently, it was like fish and chips but with black squid ink. It was intensely salty and unctuous.
Here I am looking like the poor unfortunate soul who just finished eating-out Ursula from the Little Mermaid. Maybe it was thus named due to the emancipation of Ursula’s black ink into my mouth?
Talking about black magic, let’s get into some more allegorical magic with Le Petit Prince. This was one of my favorite books in my AP Literature class in high school. This guy was just the physical manifestation of him. He was our som for the night. I felt like I was star-gazing, with Erika’s shirt making her look like Miss Universe, with Petit Prince’s star-studded Givenchy suit. How the hell he found a suit that fit him so perfectly from Givenchy is beyond comprehension.
What more appropriate magic potion would you expect from the Petit Prince than this magic potion cocktail that he had been brewing.
I think it was like some kind of Aperol Spritz with olives and oranges, what a bizarrely interesting combination. This was some off the grid concoction that was not even on the menu, just something he was experimenting with.
Here came probably my favorite dish of the night. It’s like taking my 2 favorite things and combining them. I love beef tartar, or as Armenians affectionately call it, Chi-Kefte. Now instead of raw rib eye, use Wagyu beef instead. Next level shit! On top of that olive juice. As it is, I drink olive juice like water. I love vinegary strong tastes, so much so that as a child in Sunday school, when I heard that the Roman soldiers gave Jesus vinegar to drink when he was hanging on the cross instead of water, I thought to myself, “What the fuck is wrong with that? That’s like a gift, not a punishment.” Vinegar has gotten a bad rap throughout history.
I never thought my blog would get into such a weird tangential topic. It’s funny how something you hear as a child just seems so weird to you and gets stuck in your head. You never know where your palate may lead.
This was simply called Wagyu beef, Olive juice. It would have paired so well with a 2005 Aghartha Black Label Sonoma Syrah. Just read the description of this wine and it almost describes the plate itself. I can’t remember the wine situation/pairings at this restaurant as I paid ahead of time on TOCK, I think we just got a few glasses of Rioja here and there. I think the issue was that we had to drive an hour and a half back to the Manchester hotel before a 7am flight the next day, so that put a kibosh on the drinking aside from a few glasses here and there.
Look at that money shot, this was sooooo good! The cellophane film appearing layer was actually rendered fat from the beef that was blowing in the wind. What a delivery mechanism to assure some mouth coating umami of the beef fat.
Then the Ox Cheek Rossini. The first time I had anything Rossini style was the Wagyu A5 burger Rossini style at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Vegas, which served this $60 burger. The cost came from the fact that it was served with a lobe of seared foie gras and black truffle shaved on top. Here is the actual description of this at The Burger Bar in Madalay Bay:
Kobe beef, sautéed foie gras, shaved truffles, Madeira sauce, on onion bun.
Named after a XIX th century Italian composer whose love for fine food was legendary.
The preparation always includes foie gras, truffles and a rich brown sauce, in this case, Madeira.
I couldn’t avoid the glare because it was too dark to take a sans-flash photo. But this was a stunning play on the famous Frech preparation of some sort of heavily fatty meat with foie gras, some bread component and truffles. No wonder I am getting advertisements on my blog popping up for “4 signs that you might die from a heart attack.”
The meat was an ox cheek, the bread component was fried and crumbled brioche in a foie gras sauce. Exquisite! The Ox cheek was so tender and served rare. Almost tasted like Ox-tail with that melt in your mouth texture.
Then came my second favorite dish of the night, and probably their most famous for the visual appeal. Their Iberico pork with garlic and almond.
It also had a slow cooked poached egg covered in ash. Holy fuck, all my favorite elements, cigar ash, earth, runny egg yolk, roasted Iberico. It was truly a tough call between this and the Wagyu tartar for number one of the night.
Throw in a rolled sardine for even more umami. Damn! Look at that marbling. Though I love Iberico cured, you still get a lot of that nutty acorn flavor in the pork filet as well.
It doesn’t get more debaucherous than this. Look at the color on that yolk. Holy fuck! Did I mention that the shell was also edible?
Give it to Jerry, he’ll eat it. OOOOUUUFFF, look at that oozing yolk, almost pornographic. This was Jerry’s favorite dish of the night btw.
Looks like the samurai suicide sword used in seppuku.
Here’s a sexy Seppuku. Did I mention I was a Psychiatrist?
As the debauchery and bloodshed comes to an end we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel which appears like a puffy mouth cleansing cumulus cloud, we shift gears from savory to sweet.
This was the outstanding Cardamom and Lemongrass soup with Chili sorbet. So soothing, but with a kick of spice with the sorbet. I love spicy desserts, more commonly seen with chocolate, but putting it in a sorbet was nice. Like the time we had wasabi ice cream at Scoops in Highland Park. Here is a plug for what is still my favorite ice cream in LA, even better than Salt and Straw in my humble opinion.
Some more intergalactic travels with Petit Prince to the rings of Saturn. I know these look like hot Cheetos, but they are actually beetroot rice crispies.
It is served on top of a container of quivering cellophane is actually a thin layer of potato starch, which contains some colloidal sauce of honey and violet. This rests on top of a soft-served poo-like milk chocolate.
Keep the bizzaro shit coming!
How about a teapot that looks like a petrified ostrich egg/insufflated pig’s bladder. Look at that marble silver plated serving tray. This is to fucking die for! What a work of art in itself.
Why don’t we serve the bizarro tea inside a hollowed out elephant molar for the fuck of it?
Starting to feel like I’m some demented dentist’s nightmare. Or in the 60’s cult film Fantastic Voyage.
We were sad that this voyage was coming to an end, but there was still more dessert.
What a display.
Lemon curd donut anyone? I wanted the Foie gras donut but they were out of it this night. Still, I love anything curd-like, so no complaints.
Look at that praline and pecan cupcake with an edible wrapper. It reminded me of Pralus pastry chef that makes the praline cakes with pink candied pralines on top.
Here is the Pralus cake. More on this man in future posts.
We literally ate our hearts out at this place. Hardy har har. I strongly disagree with the 1 Michelin Star rating of this place. Though it is too irreverent and playful to be a 3 star, it clearly merits 2 Stars at least.
Well done team.
Ah, the metaphor that keeps giving. As a student of Jungian theory, I could go on and on about the metaphors. I will attach a few articles that just touch on the surface. You decide what interpretation suits you best.