Kali Dining (Los Angeles, CA)
Dining date: 6/8/14
Kali Dining is one of the more well-known of the underground dinners in Los Angeles having been around for a couple of years now. Kevin Meehan is the chef behind the concept, who spent time in the kitchens of L’Orangerie and Bastide and most recently served as Executive Chef of downtown’s Cafe Pinot.
With Kali Dining, Meehan takes his fine dining background and brings it to a much more casual atmosphere. Dinners have popped up in a number of locations around the city, primarily in downtown and on the Westside. My recent visit was to a dinner at a downtown artist’s loft; it was a gorgeous place for a pop-up dinner, where a communal table sat 20 strangers. All of the Kali Dining dinners are BYOB, ~5 courses, with a recommended minimum donation of $65pp.
egg yolk poached in ash oil
This first dish went down easy, a smooth and rich concoction of an egg yolk balanced by tart creme fraiche and a bit of fresh chive.
tuna, seaweed foam kumquat, shimeji mushroom
Strong earth and sea flavors were evident in this next course – tuna and an interesting seaweed foam had bright ocean flavors while chopped shimeji mushrooms brought a rich, grounding flavor. Kumquats added a little bit of a fresh flavor to each bite.
copper river salmon, pickle broth, caviar, dill, sour cream
Loved the colors incorporated in this one; Copper River salmon was poached sous vide, its richness brightened up by tart pickle juice and sour cream. Dill made for a classic pairing. Unfortunately though, a pin bone was left in the small piece of salmon.
rosemary buttermilk bread
As a sort of intermediary course, we had this bread come straight out of the oven. Hard to beat fresh bread; this was delicious – hot, fluffy and with subtle but present rosemary notes.
beef tenderloin, burnt onion jam, smoked potatoes, parsley paste, charred onions
The final savory course was also prepared sous vide; tender pieces of beef were accompanied by subtly smoky potatoes and charred onions. Some of the charred onions were crispy (which I liked), but some were a bit limp. The onion jam and parsley paste helped to add some flavor to the lean cut of beef.
bitter chocolate cremeux, cocoa nib tuile, chocolate soil
There were rich chocolate flavors in this dessert with the cremeux, cocoa tuile and crumbled “soil.” I wanted something to offset the layers of chocolate, though I’m sure chocolate-lovers loved this one.
white chocolate truffles with truffle essence
These truffles were unexpectedly very soft, but full of truffle flavor. I imagine a truffle oil was used, but it was to full effect.
Kali Dining met expectations. The food was generally executed well and felt rather comfortable, though with enough differing elements to keep things interesting. Highlights for me had to be the egg yolk and bread, as well as the myriad flavor profiles with the salmon.