Each course is visually stimulating, and chances are you will taste animals and plants you’ve never experienced before
Lost Spirits has shown that it is more than just a working distillery. In addition to its spirits tastings, within the venue you’ll encounter semi-hidden rooms and circus troupe entertainment. Performances by magicians, comedians, live music, snake charmers, burlesque performers, contortionists, animatronic birds and acrobats are part of the immersive experience. The 35,000 square-foot building is situated across the main parking lot at Area 15. With the unveiling of its 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea-themed dinner, it’s giving us yet another reason to rediscover the dynamic entertainment establishment.
Creation of the Dinner Show
The dinner show is the brainchild of extremely imaginative Lost Spirits Co-owner/Creator Bryan Davis and talented Chef Taylor Persh. This is a majestic production with a grand theatrical presentation. It’s also fine dining at its best. The 16-course menu is based on what the characters ate while captives of Captain Nemo on his Nautilus submarine in the Jules Verne novel. They offer as many of the same foods as possible for guests to experience as they dine their way through the story, chapter by chapter.
As to why they modeled the dinner around after 20,000 Leagues, Davis says, “19th century novels are kinda my thing. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is an adventure story about fine dining and spectacular hospitality, hosted by Captain Nemo. He also happens to be a murderous ideologue who imprisons his guests and subjects them to world class hospitality. It would be hard to find a more perfect story to build dinner around.”
Chef Persh is a renowned culinarian with an impressive resume who honed her craft cooking in the kitchens of notable fine dining Los Angeles restaurants including The Bizarre by José Andrés, Bestia and Trois Mec. She also headed a similar enactment at the Los Angeles Lost Spirits called Fish or Flesh, which was based on H.G. Wells’ Island of Dr. Moreau, before it was sidelined by the pandemic.
Enchant Your Taste Buds
After being seated at the long dining table guests are greeted by the Captain, played by Chef Persh, who says, “I am Captain Nemo and you are my prisoners, in a very luxurious way,” and “welcome to my crazy, wild, wonderful dream.”
Each course is visually stimulating, and chances are patrons will taste several animals and plants they never experienced before.
Feast your eyes on Osetra Gold Caviar, soft-boiled quail eggs and chive oil served in a stunning jeweled replica Fabergé egg; eel salad sandwich with black sesame; uni, the eatable part of a sea urchin, the sex organ produces its roe, with date vinegar and wasabi served in its shell.
Next is the escargot, but not the land-dwelling kind, but rather sea snail with herb butter and cognac; fried Canadian spot prawn head stuffed with the tartare of the remaining body of which you ingest the legs, shell and eyes—if you dare; and a whole pig head brined in apple cider for 72 hours and roasted for nearly two days.
The pig head is dramatically carved before your eyes by Captain Nemo (Chef Persh) of which you are served the cheek with garlic and basil puree and jaw with raspberry puree.
Other slightly more recognizable fare, but prepared with non-traditional pairings, include Beaujolais-braised octopus tentacle with butternut squash and fennel pollen, skewered on a small sword; sweet potato pillow stuffed with foie gras, blueberry and garlic; and an eatable cocktail with 1.5-ounces of uncooked rum, lime and macaroon.
The scrumptious cocktail is followed by the Japanese otoro (tuna belly) baklava with chicken soaked in strawberry rum, honey and sturgeon caviar; scallop with shaved black truffle and brown butter; quail with nutmeg and cherry barbecue sauce; and mignardise—bite-sized savory and sweet confections of chocolate combined with soft shell crab and nori (seaweed) presented in a wooden box with hidden compartments.
For the whale course, we are informed by Captain Nemo that the shipment didn’t come in, so instead it has been substituted with A5 Kobe beef, which is served on faux scrimshaw (decorated whalebone).
Works of Art and Dramatic Flair
While 16 courses may sound over the top, the majority are bite sized and deliver a wow factor with explosions of flavors. Part of the fun is only needing utensils for a few of the courses. Other extraordinary touches add to the otherworldly flair like the aforementioned Faberge egg and scrimshaw.
Notably, the plates and dishes play a role in the delivery. Some morsels are placed under glass domes while another is served in a three-dimensional porcelain dish in the shape of a human mouth with tongue, lips and teeth. The vessels of each course are exquisite and a work of art in themselves.
Part of the drama is hearing shouts emanating from the kitchen to preface each course to let you know something momentous is about to occur. To enhance the experience, throughout the 2.5-hour repast, a soundtrack carefully selected by Davis and Persh is played. Half consists of Leonard Cohen to set the vibe and the rest of the songs titles or lyrics relate to the food items served and dreamlike experience, like “Octopus Garden,” “Sweet Dreams” and “California Dreaming.”
As for libations, they are plentiful. The meal is prefaced with the Lost Spirits signature navy rum (military-grade at 122 proof and strong enough to ignite wet gunpowder). It’s followed by sparkling rum poured from a bottle that is sabered off by chef to start the feast.
Interspersed throughout the feast are both eatable and poured cocktails like the Fried Jungle Bird made with smoky whiskey and rum-soaked donut topped with pineapple served in a parrot head glass and several courses contain uncooked spirits.
The Grand Finale
Before the dinner experience closes, chef invites those willing to come and chow down on the remaining parts of the pig head, including the eyes. Also, following the dinner, patrons may continue their journey with a tour of the entire Lost Spirits experience, with tastings and entertainment.
The dinners are intimate gatherings limited to 12 people with servings at 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. While priced at $265, it does include tax, tip and a tour of Lost Spirits with five tastings. The tastings itself is $59 value. When booking the 9 p.m. time slot, guests are encouraged to arrive at least 90-minutes early to allow time for the tour.
Dinners are fully booked through mid-June, so get out your calendar and plan ahead for your 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea dining experience.