News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 9 to 10 a.m.
Arts & Entertainment

Tink's House fuses art with food for an immersive dinner-party experience




In the Kitchen, diners walk barefoot across astroturf and bar mats. Popping out some of the holes in the bar mats are latex balloons filled with plaster powder, giving the sensation of walking on top of mushroom caps.
In the Kitchen, diners walk barefoot across astroturf and bar mats. Popping out some of the holes in the bar mats are latex balloons filled with plaster powder, giving the sensation of walking on top of mushroom caps.
Leo Duran
In the Kitchen, diners walk barefoot across astroturf and bar mats. Popping out some of the holes in the bar mats are latex balloons filled with plaster powder, giving the sensation of walking on top of mushroom caps.
The second course, served in the Dining Room, is fried and raw pompano carcass. It's dressed with corn juice, black olive oil, roe and fresno chili.
Leo Duran
In the Kitchen, diners walk barefoot across astroturf and bar mats. Popping out some of the holes in the bar mats are latex balloons filled with plaster powder, giving the sensation of walking on top of mushroom caps.
Every diner is given a ceramic bowl filled with rice "pucks" in the Kitchen, and they're encouraged to dress at will. On shelves along the wall are condiments like pumpkin seeds and sesame yogurt, while on the ground is a flower box lined with planted herbs that you may harvest from.
Leo Duran
In the Kitchen, diners walk barefoot across astroturf and bar mats. Popping out some of the holes in the bar mats are latex balloons filled with plaster powder, giving the sensation of walking on top of mushroom caps.
The entrance to Tink's House resembles walking into someone's home -- an unexpected setting for a "restaurant," but more appropriate for a dinner party.
Leo Duran
In the Kitchen, diners walk barefoot across astroturf and bar mats. Popping out some of the holes in the bar mats are latex balloons filled with plaster powder, giving the sensation of walking on top of mushroom caps.
Appetizers are served in the first room, the Den. The floor is covered with a half-foot of sand while etherial, trippy music plays, giving diners the sense they're at the beach at night rather than in someone's apartment.
Leo Duran
In the Kitchen, diners walk barefoot across astroturf and bar mats. Popping out some of the holes in the bar mats are latex balloons filled with plaster powder, giving the sensation of walking on top of mushroom caps.
The Dining Room is the setting for the second course. Diners are seated in a circle surrounding a tall cactus at tables draped in a nylon orange netting.
Leo Duran
In the Kitchen, diners walk barefoot across astroturf and bar mats. Popping out some of the holes in the bar mats are latex balloons filled with plaster powder, giving the sensation of walking on top of mushroom caps.
Inside the last room is the Bedroom, where each dish has a phallic theme to it. The first dish is a glazed carrot topped with fennel and smoked goat cheese.
Leo Duran
In the Kitchen, diners walk barefoot across astroturf and bar mats. Popping out some of the holes in the bar mats are latex balloons filled with plaster powder, giving the sensation of walking on top of mushroom caps.
In following the phallic theme of the Bedroom, the second dish served is an assortment of andouille sausage, shishito peppers and sliced eggplant covered in a seafood cream sauce. It's served directly onto the table that's lined with plastic.
Leo Duran
In the Kitchen, diners walk barefoot across astroturf and bar mats. Popping out some of the holes in the bar mats are latex balloons filled with plaster powder, giving the sensation of walking on top of mushroom caps.
Dessert, served in the Bedroom, is a bowl of Cocoa Krispies and a mushy chocolate cake with milk -- an unexpected and delightfully dressed down final course.
Leo Duran


Listen to story

07:44
Download this story 3.0MB

Foodies in Southern California are always looking for the next big thing, be it food trucks or pop up restaurants. Basically, we like eating really good food in really interesting locations.

Tink's House hopes to take that to a whole new level.  The project is part-dinner party, part-art exhibit.

The not-quite-restaurant is situated in a nondescript apartment in downtown L.A., just west of the 110 freeway. It's so under the radar that KPCC's Leo Duran, who got an early preview, was hesitant to walk in because it seemed like people live there, not host a dining experience.

"I spent a good five minutes outside rechecking the address on my phone before I thought, 'There's no other place this could be,'" he says.

Once inside, it's like walking into a dinner party: guests are seated around a coffee table with their shoes off and sharing drinks. Then, people are placed in groups of eight to travel through the four rooms together.

Being ushered into the first room for appetizers, says Duran, is, "Like walking into a trippy dream by Brian Wilson."

The floor is covered by a half-foot of sand. The furniture is stripped of their upholstery leaving just foam. Dark blue lighting and ethereal music create a relaxing mood. When the dishes are served, they're brought out on ceramic plates that look like artist palettes crossed with sand dollars.

There were bite-sized pieces of lettuce cups with hazelnut butter — pronounced by the server "let-TUSS" and "but-TER" — along with lamb neck croquettes that were a crisp perfection.

Once people have had their fill, they're walked to the Dining Room, which doesn't look like a dining room. An 8-foot tall cactus is at the center of the room, circled by eight individual desk tables draped in a bright orange netting.

It's a fitting scene for the second course: pompano fish that's been dried out to a crisp. The texture resembled a chip so much that it was easy to eat the tail fin and head whole without hesitation (except for any qualms you might have for eating a fish head).

The next room isn't as so staid to keep diners sitting: in the Kitchen, you walk barefoot across astroturf and bar mats that have been dotted with balloons filled with plaster powder. The sensation is like walking across mushroom caps, while jaunty jazz music in the background encourages people to be playful.

Diners are given small ceramic bowls filled with rice "pucks" that they can dress at will. In shelves along the wall are choices like shrimp chips, sesame yogurt, soybean sprouts and pumpkin seeds.

In the last room are the final courses. The Bedroom has all its surfaces draped in a baby blue fabric, including the picnic table in the center with a soft, foamy surface. bEach dish served has a phallic theme, such as the glazed carrot with a tassel of fennel fronds at its base.

Following that is a bowl of andouille sausage and shishito peppers tossed directly onto the table and squirted with a seafood cream.

The experience of dining at Tink's House is definitely not your usual experience.

"I didn't know what to expect," says Duran, "but I walked away liking how each room was designed to make you consider a theme and mood as you ate."

"It definitely felt more like an art experience than a restaurant," he adds, "but it was still fun and engaging."