The thought of a dinner club did not actually sound appealing to me, maybe because I’m married now, maybe because the invite said 30 people and that sounded overwhelming, or maybe because going to dinner with strangers did not sound fun. A friend had convinced me to attend and I’m happy she did. All of my fears were swiftly squashed after a night on the rooftop with Downtown LA Dinner Club.
After riding the elevator up to the Penthouse, I edged in a bit late through the kitchen door to be greeted by the chefs, hard at work in a small kitchen space. Each Wednesday dinner is held on the roof of The El Dorado. Starting in 2011, Josh Gray-Emmer would gather with a group of friends for a home-cooked meal, and now this same weekly dinner features special guest chefs and brands, along with a waiting list of 700 people on some weeks.
Tonight, our dinner was hosted by Silverlake Ramen’s chef team who prepared a sensational seven-course meal paired with Pali Wines. In Josh’s penthouse loft space, 30 guests socialized in his living room and deck with their drink of choice. A hefty bar ( I think left over from previous dinners) provided anything you could imagine to concoct or imbibe in – El Senorio Mezcal, Vapid Vodka, Stiegl grapefruit beer, and more.
Guests bring their own liquor and beer, but tonight Pali Wines co-sponsored the dinner so sipping vino in all varieties seemed like the way to begin. I was attracted to the elegant non-commercialized Pali Wine Co fliptop bottles with an artistic sketch etched in the bottle of a woman painting while holding a class of wine. Filled with the liquid hue of glowing tangerine, the 2018 Skin Fermented Pinot Grigio was the perfect way to ease into summer before settling into Pali Wines 2017 Syrah and 2017 Huntington Pinot Noir. These small lots of artisanal Pinot Noir are what Pali Wines are most well known for, with many names of their wines coming from Pacific Palisades neighborhoods.
Maybe it was the booze, maybe it was just a long day that felt like it was finally time to have fun, but a night like tonight just reminded me of why I love LA so much. Everyone from different professions and backgrounds intermingling and smiling, buzzing off the excitement of dining together on the roof.
After “happy hour,”, the chef team from Silverlake Ramen explained each course before offering a plate to take up to the roof where two long candlelit tables waited with assigned seats. Our night was over 4 hours long but it felt like a quarter of the time as conversations swept in a variety of topics, but most returned to something happening in LA. Rumor has it the unit we were mingling in may have been owned by Charlie Chaplin when the building was a hotel.
Yellowtail Carpaccio, Mushroom Salad, Fried Gyoza, Pork Bun, and Ikura and Uni atop Buttered Egg Rice appeared in stages. Around the second course, a blood-red moon popped out like it had been summonsed by the Founder to enhance our evening dinner atop the greatest city in the world. It felt a bit like NYC here in Downtown LA with the amazing views of buildings in the Historic Core, but this was LA! Classic Tonkotsu Ramen followed with hearty rich pork bone broth and a slice of pork belly, green onion, and egg, with an option to add spice. The Japanese noodle broth was so creamy and flavorful I drank every last drop.
In the next few months, you can expect Top Chef Finalists, personal chefs, and the chef from Preux and Proper in DTLA serving a variety of cuisines. To score a seat at this FREE dinner, you must live or work in Downtown LA, contribute to making Downtown LA a better place, or be a member of the LAAC. Sign up for when seats become available. Also, Ionic Vaporizers are a partner for the entire 2019 Season, so you may score some vaping samples too.
You might just realize it is important to meet your neighbors.