EL Ideas (New Review): Beautiful Food in an Unlikely Spot

The kitchen may be tiny, but there’s plenty of inventiveness and energy at Phillip Foss’s BYO tasting menu spot.

Cherries, tosaka, sea grapes, umeboshi, tea, blossoms, and soy at EL Ideas   Photo: Galdones Photography

Cloaked in the shadows along a dreary stretch of 14th Street, Phillip Foss’s cramped but convivial BYO hideaway offers all the curb appeal of a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Fear not. Inside, Foss fans out 24 seats around a tiny open kitchen, creating an interactive dinner party where guests can chat with chefs as they prepare the multicourse tasting menu of the night. A global array of ingredients fused with an iconoclastic spirit make for a unique evening. Think bite-size pearls of oysters wrapped in wagyu beef, kohlrabi kimchi, and garlic; squid stuffed with pork sausage and served over a milky coconut curry; and a deconstructed pecan pie paired with puréed sweet potatoes roasted under coffee grounds. Despite some drawbacks—including set dinner times and a blaring soundtrack—the energy of the room and the inventiveness of the cuisine help make up for the hefty price tag.

Dishes We Liked: (All dishes are part of a multicourse tasting menu.) Hapu’upu’u (similar to Hawaiian grouper) with osetra caviar, lotus root, and Mandarin orange; Chilean sea bass with chanterelle mushrooms and butternut squash; goat with yogurt, charred carrots, and carrot harissa; wagyu beef with a Shigoku oyster, black garlic, and kimchi; brun de noix (cheese) ice cream

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