Disclaimer: The Chef's Dinner is a monthly series held on the last Wednesday of each month. Its first service debuted last week in Long Beach. Chef de Cuisine Eric Samaniego teams up with a fellow chef of his choosing, creating a prix fixe meal (with optional wine pairing) for the evening. It's specifically served upstairs only, and is about as far from the Italian fare served on the main level of Michael's as conceivably possible. Do not confuse this dinner with a typical meal ordered at Michael's on Naples.
Per Chef Eric Samaniego,
"The first Chef's Dinner went exactly as I planned. A fun collaboration between old friends. It was an excellent opportunity to expose my staff to a range of new ingredients and techniques. Phil and I met at Sona and have followed each other's career. He was super stoked to see that I was going to be working in Long Beach."
Eric is referring to Chef Philip Pretty of Restauration, also in Long Beach. Congrats to Philip, as news of his recent extension from Executive Chef now includes the responsibility of business partner to his list of duties. His contributions to their Asian-inspired menu included the third course of shoyu braised octopus and udon in bacon dashi. Upon closer inspection of the rooftop dining room, we spotted his Restauration proprietor, Dana Tanner, also in attendance.
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Perfect wine pairings and effective heaters kept things comfortable after the sun went down in Long Beach. During our (second) onigiri course, we hesitated to pick up the rice dish with our hands. Samaniego assured us that we did the right thing, mentioning that he almost removed all silverware while it was being served. Our Japanese-themed meal was a delight to the senses. Chef Pretty's riff on udon offered a crunch of pig ear, jiggle of poached egg and umami aroma. Portion sizes were appropriate to the progression of our meal.
Would we head back? Of course! His next collaboration is with restaurateur Aron Habiger of On the Lam and is scheduled for April 26. Reservations are recommended.
Michael's on Naples is located at 5620 E 2nd St, (562) 439-7080; www.michaelsonnaples.com.