I have been to a lot of pop-ups and special chef dinners before, but honestly, I was not sure how this seafood-sake-tequila dinner at Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana restaurant was going to turn out.
It was billed as a five-course seafood dinner with sake and tequila pairings by Chef Lanny Lancarte II and guest chef Kevin Martinez of Tokyo cafe. A couple of weeks after I made my reservation, Chef Lanny Lancarte announced he was closing his restaurant a few days after this special dinner with plans to open a new restaurant concept called “Righteous Foods” later this summer. Then, the day before the dinner, Tokyo Cafe closed due to an early morning fire, hopefully to reopen in around 5 months.
I checked with Kevin and he told me that they still planned to go all out with this dinner, especially since it was one of the last dinners for Lanny’s Alta Cocina. As for Kevin, he would prep out of his home since he had just lost his restaurant kitchen, a helpful distraction to what has just happened.
So Tuesday it was seafood, sake, tequila … and rain. About three-hours before the dinner it started raining buckets over Fort Worth, about 30-minutes later streets were flooding and it was still raining hard. I was starting to think I would not be able to drive to the dinner when the rain let up. I was a little late, but made it, and I am glad I did because it was a great meal! Unfortunately there were some cancelations due to the weather, but I just figured that meant more sake and tequila for those of us that made it!
Here is the menu for what was served, check the slideshow above for photos.
Passed hors d’oeuvres
Raw Ahi Tuna, Chile de Arbol
Sabre Toothed Sandia (Tequila and Watermelon Cocktail)
Aji, Pickled Tomatoes, Jicama, Lime
Ginger and Apple Sake Cocktail
First course (raw)
Ama Ebi, Sprouts, Radish, Onions, Ponzu
Kaneara, Bride of the Fox, Junmai Ginjo, Sake
Second course (lightly cooked)
Baby Octopus, Warm EVOO, Fennel Pollen, Mung Beans, Parsnip, Serrano Ham
Third course (warm)
Fresh Water Eel, Scallop, Shiro Kikurage, Tofu Puree, Seaweed
Tozai, Snow Maiden, Nigori Junmai, Unfiltered Sake
Fourth course (cooked)
Halibut, Braised Oxtail, Baby Artichokes, Job’s Tears
Smoked Bacon Flan, Pineapple Brulee, Pecan Praline
Bitter Chocolate, Tofu Cake, Sour Baby Beets
Susana Balbo, Late Harvest Malbec
Everything was great, but my favorites for the evening were Kevin’s freshwater eel and scallop course, and Lanny’s halibut and braised oxtail course. Kevin mentioned to me that prepping the live eel at home was a little harder to do since he did not have an eel-length cutting board to work with. But the end results were tasty. Lanny’s halibut and braised oxtail course was a completely different play on a surf and turf that was hearty and delicious.
My wife’s favorite drink pairing was the white sangria/Mezcal, a blend of white wine, Prosecco and Mezcal.
After the meal, I talked with Lanny and Kevin; they joked about being “kitchenless chefs” at the moment, and plan to do some more collaborations here soon while they both have some free time. Lanny is still ironing out the concept for his new “Righteous Foods” restaurant, but plans to serve breakfast, saying that breakfast is his favorite meal of the day.
As for Kevin, it had really been only a day since the fire, and he spent that time prepping this dinner, but said he would be fine. His side project of opening a food cart, Yatai Food Kart, is almost done. Kevin is also planning to sell some healthier foods on his new cart. You can check it out on Facebook.