Magnum Pop-Up Debuts With Success at Biergarten

Duck Confit, Black Beans, Swiss Chard, Black Vinegar Sauce

Pop-ups are an oft-occurring phenomenon these days, but just because the concept is novel doesn’t mean the execution always is. My experience with pop-ups range from dinners with emphasis left on the setting and ambiance, to the exclusivity the secrecy of the event brings. Truth be told, I’ve rarely tasted food that matched up to my steadily decreasing expectations.

Coconut Soup, Mussels, Tapioca, Cilantro Pistou, Lime

Yes, it’s a hard deck to deal. Diners can and should expect hiccups to occur in kitchens unfamiliar to the chef – par for the pop-up course, that is. And that’s when things like pacing or even the overall length of the meal can go awry – like that one dinner party I was at from 7 PM to 12:30 AM. When you sign up for a pop-up dinner, don’t schedule anything afterwards unless your dining hours are extra early.

And that was the rule I broke at the debut of Magnum, Chef Joseph Mahon and Sommelier David Haskell’s pop-up session at Neil Kwon’s Biergarten in the unlikely Koreatown. Well, I was fulfilling an airport pick-up favor (beggars can’t be choosers), and even after my 7 courses of deliciousness my guest’s wait was more than bearable. Impressive.

The carrot pudding with orange granita and shaved peanuts was a beautiful amuse. It even packed a little punch – thanks to an unbeknownst-to-me ingredient – and effectively made me eager for more. I found myself devouring the following coconut soup, with mussels, tapioca, cilantro pistou and lime – and even some of Aaron’s (thanks to his Kosher-like diet). But I couldn’t appreciate the soup as much as I did without Haskell having paired it with a surprisingly acidic-for-a-junmai-daiginjo (made with 50% polished rice) - Wakatake “Onikoroshi”. It cut the spice in the soup so well yet was smooth enough to make it all go down like silk. Delicious.

Cured Salmon, Pickled Cabbage, Cucumber, Daikon, Kimchee Broth

Another one of my favorites had to be the cured salmon, with the fat of the fish cut by the spicy kimchee broth in which it stood. The really refreshing notes were brought by the sprouts and cucumber, and the softness of the daikon matching the tender salmon really well. Haskell paired this dish ingeniously with Alesmith’s Nautical Brown Nut Ale. Yes! Beer! The dark ale really grounded this course out by offsetting the spice, fish and veggies.

Haskell and Nguyen: Fond of each other

There’s no question that David Haskell really knows how to pair his food. But as far as expertly-prepared food in and of itself on Joseph Mahon’s part, the table’s (and my) favorite dish was hands-down the duck confit. It had a richness and texture that was just perfect to the taste and touch of the fork. But that doesn’t mean that the pairing was any less inspired. The 2008 Pithon-Paille from Bourgueil, France, made with Cabernet Franc grapes, was amazing in that it tasted rather flat by itself – but when sipped with the duck confit, it was the perfect wine to cut the richness of the duck. And that whole picture makes for a beautiful pairing.

When I joined Aaron (SavoryHunter) and the Starry Kitchen duo (Nguyen and Thi) for a reservation this special night, I had an inkling that the Who’s Who in LA food would be there – but not nearly to the capacity and fervor that came about. Nguyen fulfilled Haskell’s request and wore his banana suit during dinner, and endless tables of bloggers were seated throughout the dining room, near and far. It was a successful and festive pop-up night, with many leaving while wondering where Mahon and Haskell will go next. So stay tuned…!!

Next Magnum location TBD

Biergarten
206 N. Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90004
323.466.4860 (after 4PM)

Mahon and Haskell Pop-Up at Biergarten Tonight and Tomorrow

Photo credit to StarChefs

When Chef Joseph Mahon left Bastide just a few weeks ago, there was very little time wasted before his pop-up with restauranteur-sommelier David Haskell (Bin8945, Le Cirque) was announced. Pop-ups may be the norm instead of the exception, nowadays, but there’s no better way to get a dosage of your favorite homeless chefs and sommeliers than by attending one.

And if you haven’t been to Biergarten, anyway, this is the occasion to make it happen. It’s got a warm vibe with, of course, plenty of beer taps to boot – so tonight and tomorrow nights should make for a triple-whammy. For $56 you get served 5 courses, with an optional, additional 2 courses for $10 more that come with pairings should you choose to add them. Haskell’s wine, beer, soju and sake pairings with the 5 course prix fixe will be a flexible feature, with the option to buy them by the glass or share with another diner at your table. Check the menu below for the delicious dishes:

Carrot Curry Pudding
Coconut Soup with mussels, tapioca, cilantro, basil and pistou
Wild Mushrooms, White Soy, Sesame Rice Paper
Fried Chicken with bacon, radish, arugula, celery and buttermilk dressing
Confit Pork Cheeks with béarnaise mouse
Waffle Surprise

I love the idea of a pop-up in Koreatown. These two nights promise to be a pretty spectacular assault on your senses, so be sure to make your reservation ASAP!

Reservations can be made by emailing Neil Kwan at [email protected] or by calling Biergarten after 4 PM at 323-466-4860.

Monday – Tuesday, December 13 – 14, 2010

Dinner service

RSVP: [email protected] or,
call 323.466.4860 (after 4PM)

Biergarten
206 N. Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90004
323.466.4860 (after 4PM)