Does relaxing on a Hollywood hotel rooftop as speakers blast AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”and a band of masked men and women cook your meal with blowtorches sound like a good time? If so, you might want to check out Gastro Garage’s “Torched,” a dining pop-up currently at the W Hotel.
I had the pleasure of joining the Gastro Garage crew, who’ve been featured on Bravo and The Travel Channel, for this progressive dinner last weekend. After seven months of low-key Covid living, it was a pleasure to enjoy a lively, theatrical evening while surrounded by sweeping city vistas and listening to “Running with the Devil” (RIP Eddie Van Halen).
Gastro Garage is “a band of traveling food pirates,” as co-founder Stewart Levine told us. “Everything we do has never been done before. Everything needs to be flamed and everything needs to be blowtorched.” This is a group with culinary credibility; many of the crew members are hospitality veterans. Levine himself used to work with Wolfgang Puck Catering and with Jose Andres at the SLS Hotel.
After a private elevator sweeps you up to the 12th floor, you’ll enter a private rooftop area featuring a swimming pool and expansive views of the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory and DTLA. You’ll sip a margarita made with JaJa tequila and apple cider rimmed with cinnamon and sugar as a gastro mechanic ignites your starter: Kettle chips with blue cheese foam and gastro buffalo sauce. No need to worry about social distancing — there was plenty of space between groups, and employees made sure everyone was masked (except while eating and drinking, of course).
You’ll then proceed to tables set up next to grill stations where everyone gets a shot of Bulleit bourbon for toasting. Then, be entertained as gastro mechanics light up their blowtorches to cook what they call “tanks.” The Piston Pizza Gastro Tank is a savory donut with mozzarella foam, torched shredded mozzarella, tomato/basil puree, and heaps of fresh basil. The Cubano Tank is another savory donut, this one layered with slow-roasted torched pork, along with applewood-smoked ham, mustard caviar, and dill pickle. There’s also a vegetable course: Torched Carrot Pops with EVOO and Maldon salt, served with maple gravy foam.
Moving on to “pistons” (skewered proteins set aflame), you’ll enjoy Naked Salmon (torched on a drill bit and served with sesame oil, Maldon salt, and bearnaise foam) and the Japanese Marinated Short Rib Drill Bit served with white cheddar foam.
Each group moves to a private poolside cabana for two desserts. I loved the Fireberry Gastro Tank (filled with sweet cream cheese foam, torched balsamic strawberries, and cracked black pepper), but the crowd favorite seemed to be the Princess Buttercup Gastro Tank (with double chocolate foam, torched sweet peanut puree, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, and Nutter Butter powder)
You can attend these lively dinners through mid-December. Seatings are at 7:00 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. on October 23-24, November 6-7, 13-14, 20-21 and 28, and on December 4-5 and 11-12. You can find ticketing info here.