Thank you Bloomspot for hooking up hungry stomachs with great food deals! Earlier this year, Bloomspot ran a coupon for The Gorbals, a restaurant by chef/owner Ilan Hall, winner of Top Chef Season 2. An upscale bar food type menu, drinks to take up the time of your til 2 AM parking down the street from the Alexandria Hotel on Spring St in Downtown LA, The Gorbals deserved a visit. Not once, not twice... but three times.
Apart from the said to be haunted hotel popular back in the day to have housed several celebrities, and gloomier than the otherwise vibrant, heavily-populated location during the LA Artwalk, the Alexandria seemed like the hidden, secret corner tucked away just for The Gorbals. If I were a resident in that building as they've turned it into apartments, I would definitely frequent The Gorbals too often. Then again, I wouldn't really live there because just going to the restroom freaks me out. So I will drive the drive for some good food and drinks, along with great company.
I apologize in advance for some poorly lit photos. I think the beers and cocktails got the best of my basic brain functions as I didn't think to light it up more when taking the photos.
Stone, India Pale Ale 6
Scrimshaw, Pilsner 6
Desperate Housewife vodka, brown sugar, orange pop 10
Uncle Hampton bulleit rye, carpano antica, house made falernum bitters 14
Mexican Coke 4
Nueske’s bacon wrapped matzoh balls 7
A small dumpling made of seasoned matzo meal bound together with egg and chicken fat.
And of course, bacon. Bacon deserves its own line.
There were initially three, but I guess we all know what happened to the first excited bite.
Bánh mì poutine 15
A play on the Vietnamese style baguette, pork belly fillings and flavors and a poutine, a French-Canadian dish of French fries and fresh cheese curds, covered with brown gravy or sauce.
Confit tongue, romesco 15
One of my favorite dishes on the menu. I could have a bigger plate of this and I would have licked it clean.
Roast marrow, walnuts, mushrooms, malt vinegar 13
Oh all things marrow are mighty tasty! Served on the bone, with crispy bits on the outside and a vinegary inside. Slurp.
Gribenes, lettuce, tomato 8
What is gribenes? It's fried-chick-en-skin. At this point, don't go to your local Wal-mart and check your hypertension on the machine by the pharmacy.
Popcorn gizzards, tapatio lime aioli 9
This has got to be my favorite dish on the menu. Except 2/3 times, we came too late that it was sold out and long gone in other people's stomachs. Tip: Make a reservation earlier.
Chicken liver mousse, pan con tomate 9
I swear I took a picture of it, but I guess I swallowed that photo along with the dish.
Grilled squid, lemon, garlic, parsley 11
This was yum, with great, soft texture.
Shibumi oyster, pickled grapefruit rind 3.5 ea
Mermaid Cove oyster, crispy smoked lardo, horseradish mignonette 4ea
Both were great and refreshing. I especially liked the pickled grapefruit rind.
Squid ink battered Rock Cod and chips 17
I remember eating this dish, and regret not having taken a picture. It's fish and chips in black batter because of the squid ink. Quite tasty, but a little salty when served to us.
Broccoli, soy, chilies & vinegar 8
The best broccoli ever! It's just so good with soy and vinegar. It shoots up your nose less than wasabi, and fills you up less than rice. It's a great accompaniment and way to start the meal.
Welsh rarebit, fried egg 9
Welsh rarebit is a dish made with a savoury sauce of melted cheese and various other ingredients and served hot, after being poured over slices of toasted bread. This was my least favorite dish, because there was something mixed in with a Worcestershire concoction that reminded me of the taste of soap. It also reminded me of vegemite/marmite on toast. Although cooked properly, it was not my favorite and probably garners an audience with an acquired taste.
There were menu items as well that we tried that are not on their current menu. These aren't the official names, just a description of what the dishes are:
Wood-grilled Berkshire pork belly, prawn broth
An aromatic and fish saucy broth accompanies this dish, with some asian greens.
Going out on a limb to say it had a horseradish-y sauce. I could be wrong as this was back in February. This dish was too good to not be a regular menu item. Bring it back!
Squash Blossoms, datu puti
Lightly battered and crispy, it comes with a Filipino white vinegar, a staple in my kitchen cupboard since birth.
Prawns A La Plancha & pimenton butter 15
Charred and good on their own, they are hard not to compare with the prawns from Providence, which came with a tomato, lobster stock infused bisque-like dipping sauce.
Cold poached prawns, crispy fried heads, saffron butter
On skewers (3 originally, let's not talk about the other), and deep fried shrimp heads. A play on ama ebi, traditionally served in sushi bars and Japanese restaurants, I love me some deep fried shrimp head. I just wished the sharp spear on its head was cut off because it pierced my upper palate.
Sticky toffee pudding, ice cream, maldon salt (Add Scotch-$6) 7
Unfortunate to not have tried the other dessert since this one is too good, we've had it three different ways each time. One is with a cinnamon tasting ice cream. The second with the same ice cream without the scotch. And the third is with a mint ice cream.
The original cinnamon ice cream with the scotch is the way to go!
All in all, The Gorbals brings with its luminescent ambience, an atmosphere for whispered conversations over a candle light that seemed to be my only source of lighting for my photos for a while, or shared laughs and flailing arms over drinks and great food. The decor is simple, the restaurant is bathroom-less, but the long wooden table in the center is very much inviting. The food will make you smile because it is non-pretentious, it will make you full because it's yummy, and it will give you another reason to be thankful for a memorable meal and to keep coming back. Cheers!