Let's review the basics. I love food, and I love dining out. The ante is upped for me and these two assumptions when there's a novel location, interesting people, intriguing decor, and of course, fabulous food. That's why, as I've discussed here, I enjoy the excitement of eating at a limited time engagement pop-up, underground dining in remote locations, and the more intimate supper clubs incorporating new dining companions around a shared table. My latest foodie foray, Kali Dining, is a wonderful mix of all of these.
Kali Dining is the brainchild of Chef Kevin Meehan who brings a select group of strangers together in a secret location for a limited amount of time. He's been in the new Stella complex in Marina del Rey for the last few weeks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and lucky for you, he's now extended his time through August.
Meehan is originally from NY, but came to LA and worked in some top French restaurants here like Bastide and Melisse before settling into the Patina Group and Cafe Pinot. After tiring of the corporate restaurant culture, he decided to do his own thing, and voila, Kali Dining was created.
Kevin has temporarily set-up shop in the new condo complex in the Marina, called Stella. He's taken over a studio apartment and lined the room with a plain wood table and chairs to seat 20. Decorations are sparse, but the room was open and we could watch all the action in the kitchen while Kevin and his team cooked and plated.
While there was no printed menu, Meehan made sure to describe each dish as he placed it on the table. He has a love of foraging and playing with flavors and you can see the whimsy on the plate, as well as taste it on the palate.
We started with a melon that Kevin cooked sous vide which made chewing unnecessary. Chia seeds added a nice crunch, and the iberico ham brought balance and salt to the plate.
A big bowl of crispy, dried kale arrived with a delicate taste of pickled beet and feta underneath. I used my fingers, fork and spoon to enjoy every bite.
We then each received a warm, individually baked rosemary bread with our own salted butter that was devoured in minutes.
A beautifully laid out plate arrived with dungeness crab, stewed tomatoes, avocado paste and squid ink crumbles for color and crunch. A light, but well balanced dish of complementary flavors.
By the time the homemade pork belly tortellini reached me it was a little cold, but I could taste the love and care put into the pasta, and had fun with the parmesan popcorn chip on top.
The beef tenderloin was my favorite dish. The meat was cooked perfectly, tender and soft, but the duo of chimchurri sauce and burnt onion jam had me scraping the plate with utensils and fingers. When Kevin asked what my favorite dish was I confessed to my finger lickin' love of his burnt onion jam, and next thing I knew he was handing me the leftovers in a tuperware container and I may or may not be eating that right now. That sort of stuff just doesn't happen in brick and mortar restaurants.
We closed out the meal with a lush vanilla curd topped with the sweet flavors of Harry's Berries delectable strawberries with a touch of balsamic vinegar and pistachios.
The details in every dish could be seen and tasted. Any questions on ingredients of preparation, Kevin or one of his crew was there. I think it's a fun and more personal way to eat and enjoy a chef's cuisine. The 5 course meal was a requested donation of $65 and BYOB, which I think is a good value for the quality of the food, and the unique experience had.
You still have time to be a part of Kali Dining in the Marina, but not much. If you miss it, keep watching for Kevin to hopefully open his own place full time. in the near future.