Monday, May 3, 2010

Top Chef Season 2 Winner Ilan Hall and the Castle Cake He Made for My Friend's Birthday

Me and Chef Ilan Hall (I'm holding up a latke!)

Ah, Saturday night. I attended a friend's birthday held at The Gorbals, a restaurant-bar in downtown LA run by Bravo's Top Chef Season 2 winner Ilan Hall. You might have heard about Hall's somewhat controversial menu item: bacon-wrapped matzah balls. His father is from Scotland, his mother is from Jerusalem. Go figure! As I don't eat bacon, I didn't order these daring matzah balls and can't testify to their brilliance or ridiculousness. But! I did try the latkes with applesauce and honey and wow they are amazing! I think I might have to drizzle some honey on applesauce every time I eat it from now on!

A menorah is parked at the restaurant's cash register
reminding you of some of the menu items

Plus, the cocktails are unusual and feature bourbon and gin in interesting flavor combinations, and the beers on tap are great. I ordered a pale ale that went down light and easy, and then a beer called the Abbey, which was significantly stronger and served in a rounded lowball tumbler glass probably more appropriate for scotch. So fun and unexpected!

The open kitchen allows you to watch Chef Ilan Hall in action

Besides the menu, the atmosphere makes The Gorbals an awesome venue. The Gorbals is located inside the historic Alexandria Hotel of 1906 so be sure to get intentionally lost on your way in or out so you can see some of the neat architecture and design touches (though with plenty of a feeling of abandonment from this no-longer-functioning hotel). The interior of the restaurant includes an open kitchen so you can watch the chef do his thing, and there's a long communal table in the middle of the place for you to sit at unless you opt for a more private dining experience at a table for just your group. The waitress we had was spectacular, super attentive and kind, always offering us water, and making sure we were happy. Hall looked like he was having a great time balancing cooking with stepping out of the kitchen and mingling with the party folk. He's a very friendly guy.

And speaking of friendly, Hall is friends with my friend, the birthday boy. So naturally, what is a chef to do when his friend hosts his birthday party at his pal's restaurant? Hall made a giant castle-shaped bundt cake, deep fried it, drenched it in some sort of vanilla glaze, sprinkled powdered sugar on top, and then finished it off with sparkler candles. Deep frying the entire cake basically resulted in a giant donut. And it was delicious!

The castle cake Ilan Hall made for my friend's birthday

To top off an already fun evening, I said a little hello to some comedians who came out for my friend's party, sending my celeb interaction quota for the day off the charts. You see, my friend is in the comedy business. In fact, I was told there were plenty more comedians in the room, but unless they're from Zoolander or they're about to host the 2010 MTV Movie Awards, they just look like the next guy to me.

I highly recommend you grab a drink and order some small plates at The Gorbals. And say hello to Ilan Hall. If you two hit things off and become fast friends, maybe he'll make you a giant castle birthday cake donut thingy, too!

The Making of the Giant Castle Birthday Cake Donut Thingy in Pictures:

Deep frying the castle cake

Pouring the glaze over the hot, just fried cake

Sprinkled with powdered sugar, the cake gets some sparkler candles

The candles are lit and the Happy Birthday Song is about to commence!

The Details:
The Gorbals
501 S. Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90013
(213) 488-3408

1 comment:

Mom said...

Never heard of deep frying an entire cake! I love donuts, so I bet I would like it...especially if there was cream filling in the middle! Sounds like a lot of fun!

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