The Distinguished Gourmand: Manuela
Last Thursday marked the final Dinner Club For Day People (aka Dinner Club, aka #DTE) of 2016. At times this year we were very productive! We dined at Nest @ WP24, Toca Madera (which I neglected to write about) and Odys + Penelope. I guess in hindsight maybe we weren’t productive. Three meetings in twelve months? Yuck. It certainly feels like I’ve eaten well this year. I plan on updating The Swan Fungus 25 later this week. I haven’t updated the definitive list of my favorite restaurants in LA since 2014! So much has changed. Half the list has probably shuttered. Thankfully there is no shortage of great eats to be had in this city right now. Speaking of which, Manuela is a new spot downtown in Hauser Wirth & Schimmel. Mark determined that it demanded the attention of Dinner Club, so we met up there last Thursday.
Amanda stole a bottle of “fire sauce” from Toca Madera during our visit. It has since become our unofficial #DTE mascot. It’s been in my possession since April and I was supposed to hand it off to Mark upon his choosing Manuela, but I forgot it at home. My night began with my friends cursing me and telling me I’m literally the worst person who has ever lived.
Hauser Wirth & Schimmel reminds me a lot of The Source in Denver, only larger (and less crowded). Instead of a multi-use complex in a converted foundry, DTLA’s complex has its roots in a converted flour mill. In short, I guess the only way it’s like The Source is because HW&S used to be something else, too!
Clearly I’m grasping at straws here.
Manuela is helmed by Wes Whitsell, whose menu is inspired by both Southern and Mexican cuisines. Even more impressive than the delicious culinary combo is Whitsell’s approach, which includes techniques like in-house smoking, fermentation, and using ingredients from the on-site farm. I think they even have chickens on said farm, which is right out back! I didn’t see the chickens, but I did eat one. More on that later.
There’s a cocktail list and wine list to pair with the food. In true Dinner Club fashion we drank a lot. I had the Rattlesnake Roundup (Redemption rye whiskey, house made pimms, dates, and lemon) and then I switched to wine. They have Sean Thackrey Pleiades XXIV on the wine list. I fucking love that wine, and to prove it I put a bottle away by myself.
Due to the nature of Whitsell’s approach, you can’t really count on the menu staying the same every night. Some of the items we had might not be available in the future, but maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have something even better! Either way, here’s what the thirty of us (we were seven, but we ordered as if we were thirty) consumed.
Dinner Club will return in 2017. Hopefully.
Saor – Autumn Rain [MP3]
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