Tuesday, April 07, 2009

CLOSED Tutti Matti

This Restaurant has Closed

This was published in Eloquence magazine this month. Sadly, it is my last month writing for Eloquence, but hopefully I'll be writing for another publication soon.


A Restaurant introduction by Daniel Gray with Chris Sanders, Penny Brook, and Carla Schmitz

The idea of a resto-lounge sounds avant-garde. Especially in a city known for apartments that may also serve as offices and cell phones that are multi function computers, calculators, dictionaries, and entertainment devices. Everything seems to be compressed in Seoul. And on top of that you have parts of the city that specialize in certain activities. You should go to Myeongdong to shop, Apgujeong to eat, and then Hongdae to dance. All of this probably prevents 50% of people from even going out.

So Tutti Matti decided to introduce a new concept to Karisukgil. They bought an entire building and designated each floor to a different activity. When you walk in you are welcomed into comfortable café where you can have a frothy cappuccino. Walk up one flight of stairs and trained wait staff will present you with a fine meal and a selection of wines. Go all the way to the basement and you’ll be given a martini whose liquid will dance to the beats of their house DJ. And, if you are privileged enough, you could go into the VIP room on the top floor.
Everything is in one place and the transition is as easy as climbing a flight of stairs.
Chris, Penny, Carla, and I were invited to come to Tutti Matti, which means, “Everybody is Crazy,” to dine by Lachlan Winner: owner of the bar. Lachlan is the perfect host. He is polite, warm, sophisticated and gregarious. He introduced us to his staff and his Italian Chef: Maximillian and the courses were on their way.

The first dish we had was the Vodka with Penne. The pasta was al dente (like it should be) with a complementing sauce that was creamy and flavorful with a cunning hint of vodka. There was only the sound of silverware and plates until Penny quipped, “See, no talking. That means that the food is good.” We all agreed with her.

The next dish that came was big pan seared scallops wrapped in bacon and served with a roasted pepper puree and sautéed spinach. This one I wasn’t such a fan of, because I thought it was too… familiar of a dish. On the other hand this was Carla’s favorite. She said, “I like to cut it in half so I can savor it.”

Lachlan then picked for us a 2005 Masi Campofiorin. This wine had hints of cherry, silk, and chocolate and paired well with the dishes. While we were enjoying the wine, my ears did perk up to the music. It was soothing song mixed with a modern techno track. It was a good match.
The next dish was the Branzino al Cartoccio Mediterraneo. Wrapped in parchment, it looked like a British Christmas cracker. The parchment was cut open by the chef and the air was filled with the wholesome smell of fresh basil and rosemary. The fish was cooked perfectly and it was topped with black olives and tomatoes. There was silence as everyone passively fought for forkfuls of the flakey fish.

The finish (well for dinner anyway) was a homemade Tiramisu. This was, hands down, the best tiramisu I’ve had in Korea. It was so authentic. The bitter chocolate powder was restrained by the creamy mascarpone cheese and the top layer of ladyfingers held a hint of espresso, while the lower layer had sopped up more of the robust cacao bean. The layers of flavors broke apart and then came back together in a swirl of flavors. We all gave high marks to the chef for this dish, but he said some guests didn’t feel the same way. We told him, that they had not experienced a real tiramisu.

As we were finishing up our wine, Chef Maximillian brought up one more dish. Maybe it was because our praise of his Tiramisu. It was his mushroom risotto. This dish was very rustic, nutty, and full of flavor. Penny said she really enjoyed the al dente bite and flavors in the dish.
After our meal, we had to go down to the basement to see what the bar was like. A French bartender served us Lychee cosmopolitans as trendy guests danced on the dance floor. For me, the lychee cosmopolitan turned into a dry martini, the martini became a single malt scotch and the scotch: absinthe. When I woke up the next morning, I couldn’t remember much about the bar, but I did know that I did have a good time and I believe the rest of my crew did as well.

Tutti Matti
Go out Sinsa Station exit 8 and walk 3 blocks. You’ll see a sign that points to Karisukgil. Tutti Matti is down the street across from “Free School.”

Entrees range from 17-45,000 won
Extensive Wine Menu available