Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Micah Wexler kicks off Umamicatessen's Residency series with an homage to Pico Blvd.

Micah Wexler puts the finishing touches on homemade headcheese tacos
Umamicatessen Downtown is hosting a series of guest chef dinners called The Residency, where diners get an intimate multi-course dinner at the counter in the rear of the restaurant, getting plenty of facetime with the chef and watching him put the finishing touches on the dishes.
Most of the dishes are finished and plated right behind the counter.
North Hollywood native Micah Wexler, most recently of Mezze and "Iron Chef," is the first chef in the lineup, with his To Live and Dine in L.A. residency running at least 10 weeks on Thursday nights. This Thursday for the first one, he's paying homage to the multi-cultural Pico Blvd. (not sure if it's inspired by Jonathan Gold's epic tour or not).
This cheese bureka holds a delicious secret: it's also packed with bacon and dates.
We got a preview of the dishes which ranged from Israeli cheese bureka inspired by Eilat to bloody clams in the style of La Cevicheria, tacos de cabeza with homemade head cheese made in the French style, Cuban chicken with beans but made with a lot more care than Versailles and finally a deconstructed banana cream pie that had quite a bit more going on than the familiar Apple Pan rendition.
Briny clams are offset by a vibrant beet sauce
Next week, Wexler will take on Boyle Heights, and in future weeks, he'll also journey back in time with nods to the fine dining culture of the '50s and '60s (Perino's, Scandia, et al) and the introduction of California cuisine in the 1980s.
Chicken doesn't pack the garlic wallop of Versailles, but the bird itself is much more flavorful.
The prix fixe menu is $45, and I'd recommend the wine pairings for $22.50, as they're carefully planned to play off the range of tastes, from a light and unusual Narcisse Sonoma Coast pinot with the chicken to a late-harvest Austrian chardonnay dessert wine that bounced nicely off the caramelized bananas.
These crispy banana chips should be sold by the bag! Ginger gives the "crust" some added oomph.

Stay tuned for more chefs to be added on other evenings, featuring themes including Spanish cuisine, steak and barbecue. For reservations (there are two seatings per night), call (213) 413-8626.

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