While surfing FB several nights ago, I was stoked to see Cur8eur [online] post a link about an 8-course dinner prepared by one of our favorite chefs, Chef Chad White. http://cur8eur.com/blog/caja-ocho/ Held at Comun Kitchen and Tavern, it was offered for 8 people only. 8 people?? I immediately contacted Marie Daniels, told her I needed 5 minutes, rallied the Dudies and called to confirm the tickets just under the gun.
8 courses. 8 people. Omakase-style with Chef Chad White at his restaurant in the East Village, Común Kitchen & Tavern. That’s pretty exciting food stuff to me… not so much because Chad’s been voted Eater San Diego’s Chef of the Year for 2014, or for any of the awards he’s received, or even the fact that he makes a mean-ass lechon (all very cool in and of itself)… I was more pumped because Chad is a adventurous, out-of-the-box, boundary-stepping kinda dude… I feel like he could make anything (even stuff you wouldn’t normally order) with the end result being simply awesome! He had free reign to make whatever the hell he wanted…in other words, we were at the mercy of Chef Chad!!
Arriving early to chat it up with Chad, it turned out we were all excited! For him, it was the first time making any of these dishes – no pressure in the kitchen, right? There are no do-overs in a dinner of this kind; that’s what makes the concept so unique. There are no pre-conceived ideas on what a dish should taste like; how your mom traditionally prepares it… Not knowing what to expect makes you appreciate each dish, especially when you are watching the painstaking prep work and execution that the chef is putting into the plate. The menu had some basic descriptions each dish, but we know Chad better than that… We knew that each plate was going to be served with a description to make your mouth water. And salivate we did!
Winter meets spring… Inspiration for Chad’s dishes and menu. Bright veggies inspired his creativity. And some of those produce inspired dishes were some of the best dishes ever.
The Plates & Drinks
Chef Chad plated each of the dishes right in front of was which was a treat. He was an artist with his canvas … you have no idea what the end will look like, and then BAM! Even other peeps in the restaurant were watching him work his magic on each dish…. As each of the dishes was being served Chad would walk us through all of the ingredients. There was so much work involved in each plate, but well worth it. It’s kinda funny but as each of us took a bite from the plate, you could taste all of the ingredients and they worked so well with each other… You don’t just wing this kind of shit. This dude chose stuff that only complemented each other and very well. Ooohs and aahhs from all of us at the table. ON EVERY DISH. Does that happen all the time? No. But we ate every bite of every dish and scooped up what we could of the purees or sauces. Obviously we were trying to help the kitchen by licking the plates clean…. Haha. But seriously. And as for drinks? Some chose to do the suggested wine pairings (2 white and 2 red), some the beer (Insurgents & Mexicali) and mescal, and some had the cocktails that the bartender had thought up for each of the dishes. All were great choices so there’s no going wrong, simply what you’re in the mood for.
- Carrot – avocado / pineapple / sal de gusano
- Artichoke – sun choke / peas / duck / elderflower
- Onion – green garlic / guancale / raisin
- Turnip – cinnamon / vinegar / masa / ginger
- Broccoli – pig face / mole / anchovy / talera
- Mushroom – lemon / barley / egg / sal de chapulin / queso añejo / sea grass
- Chayote – cilantro / walnuts / buttermilk
- Chocolate – tangelo / espresso / sal de naranja
I wish that I could describe what they did to each of the ingredients i.e. dehydrating oranges to stick to salt, chile in ice cream with salt etc.. Do yourself a service and check it out!
To Sum it Up
I believe that of all the dinners, the only one that isn’t sold out is the 2nd dinner one in April. But you should go. You should go because when a chef can make 8 dishes of whatever he feels like, that’s a pretty awesome and unique experience. And Chad did just that. We all joked somewhat seriously that we should have just bought out all of the dinners. We agreed that this is one of, if not, the most amazingly delicious dinners we’ve done. Chad has his own style, but he loves to cook. He loves to make some Chad-esque meals. He loves suprising people with what’s on the plate… Oh yeah, and let me tell you… You aren’t going to leave hungry.
We didn’t, and we love to eat.
p.s. There are no substitutions and no exceptions. And just for the record, had he made mussels, I was ready to eat them and I’m allergic. Yep. It was that good.
Want to go? Get your tickets here! Caja Ocho Tickets