Monday, February 6, 2012
For as long as there have been fish and chip-filled waxed paper box lids, seaside restaurants have been havens of frugal foods for finicky travelers, or overpriced thawing lobsters and a user-friendly selection of shrimp scampi. The Redondo, Hermosa, and Manhattan Beaches have been no exception to such rule.
As a turn in the tide, chef and co-owner David LeFevre’s Manhattan Beach Post sets a solid anchor into the LA county coast, riding in on the ubiquitous small plates craze. MB Post serves fare that is virtually all over the global spectrum, rendering Asian flavors like a mussel dish with curry and Chinese sausage, as well as BBQ Moroccan lamb belly. But regardless of origin of influence, each dish seems to possess a unifying new American tinge.
Reservationists receive a personalized envelope, containing the day’s fares. The legal sized menu is divided into appetizers - breads, cheese, cured meats, and snacks - vegetable dishes, seafood, and meats. An added personalizing touch, daily addendums are handwritten onto the then xeroxed menus.
Charcuterie trays are built from the appetizer section with such breads as MBP’s bacon cheddar biscuits (5), served with maple butter; challerchocker cheese (9 yikes! ); and a jar of pickled onions, carrots, and cauliflower (3). Cranberries, Marcona almonds, and house bread served with persimmon spread also fill out the tray.
Served in a ball glass, the red curry marinated big eye tuna (tartare - the menu fails to mention!) is a combination of fresh texture, brought on by cucumber, coconut, peanuts and puffed rice, and the salty heft of fish and curry(14). Texturally, the dish is peculiar, the taste a bit unusual, too.
But an actual toothsome wonderment is LeFevre’s Hen of the Wood mushrooms(12). Cooked in a Pedro Ximenez sherry, these meaty mushrooms are tender and excellent comfort food. They are served in a cast iron dish of creamy seminola and crispy shallots. Similarly satisfying, a jarred serving of shrimp, chorizo, and Beluga lentil soup (5) is lightly thickened with yogurt and sweetened with red onion; the only complaint for this one: Not enough.
Manhattan Beach Post’s site is a former post office made sexy with hardwood decor, and left with touches of its former self. Ambience here is lively and goes from zero to hero in less than 30 minutes.
The Windrose Farm kabocha squash risotto(13) is a creamy bowl of cranberry, candied walnut balanced out with the help of blue cheese. In terms of flavor, the dish may have a bit much going on, but it is polished comfort food done well.
LeFevre’s albondigas, or meatball dish (11), is a brightly sauced serving of four moist hand-rolled meatballs, incorporating Asian notes into a Latin-inspired American dish.
Manhattan Beach Post is promising and does much to raise the bar on the coastal cuisine, but it does have a few kinks to address: Namely, an overwhelming menu makes it easy to create a meal like one, composed of food of similarly soft texture. As a result, getting it right then becomes an easy to miss challenge when it comes to small plates. There are toothsome meat dishes on the menu, but everything’s extensive descriptiveness requires an awful amount of consideration in so little time. With time, these are cogs the Michelin star winning chef will put into place.
Manhattan Beach Post
1142 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach,
Photos collaboratively shot with bbbites.blogspot.com/