Richard Foss

South Bay dining news: Hop Saint arrives in Torrance, Crepe Lab in El Porto, Kagura, Superba Food + Bread and Smitten Ice Cream all open in El Segundo

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The Hop Saint Brewing Company has opened, and its storied crew includes front of house manager Christina Oliva, brewmaster Brian Brewer (yes that is his real name), and head of operations Steven Roberts (the legendary Boogaloo man). Photo by Kathleen Fisher

The Hop Saint Brewing Company has opened, and its storied crew includes front of house manager Christina Oliva, brewmaster Brian Brewer (yes that is his real name), and head of operations Steven Roberts (the legendary Boogaloo man). Photo by Kathleen Fisher

by Richard Foss 

Open And Ambitious… Hop Saint, the replacement for Billy’s Deli on 190th, has soft opened – they’re only serving a fraction of what they plan to offer, but the pattern is clear. Owner Steve Roberts was at Café Boogaloo in its heyday, and the shrimp and grits joins other Southern specialties on the short menu. Once the smoker is installed, things will get more eclectic and wide-ranging. And did I mention that they serve excellent beer that is brewed on site? This place will liven up a sleepy and dull area, and perhaps spur some of the neighbors to step up their game… (Hop Saint, 5150 West 190th, Torrance)

Hope Springs Eternal… A restaurant location in Manhattan Beach just set a record nobody will want to break – five different restaurants operated there in the last two years. It was Toscano Deli and Saigon Deli last year, and this year both Provence Boulangerie and King Tut opened and closed. Crepe Lab just started serving last week, offering both sweet and savory crepes in a build-your-own format. It’s an attractive idea, and I wish them the luck and customers that evaded previous operators… (Crepe Lab, 4101 Highland, MB. 310-545-7788)

Progress At Marsatta…  The opening of Marsatta Chocolates retail location has been delayed several times due to cocoa processing machinery arriving late, extensive and unanticipated building repairs, and other factors, but it is finally about to happen. Though they were unable to serve the busy Christmas traffic, owner Jeffray Gardner is confident that they’ll have all their approvals by early January. You can buy his chocolates at the Manhattan Beach, Redondo, and Torrance farmers markets until then…

The Joke You Knew Was Coming… Scapegoat coffee on the Pier Plaza closed after a very short run – they opened in March, shuttered last week. Given the name, I wonder if they’ll blame someone else for the business failure…  

On a brighter note, Kagura is open in El Segundo, and it’s a more interesting place than I expected. The restaurant under the same name and ownership in Torrance specializes in tonkatsu, breaded fried pork – this one specializes in gozen, set meals with an elaborate array of small dishes on the side. The décor pushes Japanese minimalism to the extreme, but the food is ornately beautiful, fresh tasting, and reasonably priced. It’s a new bright spot in an evolving neighborhood… (Kagura, 403 Main Street, El Segundo. 310-333-0689)

Elsewhere in El Segundo, both Superba Food + Bread and Smitten Ice Cream are open at The Point, and both bring something to this increasingly interesting development. Superba is an outgrowth of a popular mini-chain in Venice, and their baked goods are, well, superb. I had an unusual and excellent pastry Reuben, flaky croissant dough rolled around corned beef, cheese, kraut, and mustard – the topping of rye seeds gave it the traditional flavor while preserving the lighter texture. For dessert I went to Smitten, where they make your ice cream when you order it, using liquid nitrogen to freeze the fresh cream as you watch. It’s more than a novelty for science geeks – there is no time for ice crystals to form, so this is as smooth and rich as ice cream can be.  Now that these two are open there’s only one space yet to start serving, the much-delayed Craft Shack… (Superba Food + Bread, 830 S. Sepulveda, El Segundo. 310-906-4598. Smitten Ice Cream, 850 S. Sepulveda, El Segundo. 424-220-7100)

More Bakeries To Choose From… Two new bakeries have opened in Redondo Beach, both specializing in sweets. Krust on PCH offers scones and danishes as well as cakes, while Sweet Creations on Beryl is centered on cookies and cupcakes. The latter has a party space where adults and children can take cake decorating classes, a nifty idea to combine with a bakery. If you like fresh baked goods and have a sweet tooth, Redondo now has more options than the rest of the South Bay combined… (Krust, 1300 S. PCH, Redondo. 310-540-6100.

Sweet Creations, 1218 Beryl, Redondo. 310-798-2253)

But One Less Than Expected… There was going to be another bakery in Redondo too, in the former TKP Provisions space a block from Krust, but there has been a change in plans. The plan involved ambitious renovations to the building, and once the costs became clear the idea was scuttled. Some interesting concepts have been proposed – I’ll let you know via this column when things are finalized…

One Less Italian… Bobby’s South Bay Italian has closed – their pizzas and pasta were solid but not adventurous, and they faced stiff competition in the area. There will soon be more competition in Hermosa, as an ambitious new Italian project is about to be announced near the beach. The city has been quiet this year, but changes are in the works…

One More Mexican… Frida, an upscale Mexican restaurant named after artist Frida Kahlo, has opened in the Del Amo Mall. The chain started in Beverly Hills and has an upscale style, including an extensive tequila and mezcal selection. It’s one of several new restaurants that promise to bring a different crowd to the mall area, and if it works then malls all over America are likely to try the same tactic. (21438 Hawthorne Boulevard, Torrance. 310-371-0666)   

Product Tie-ins, Alcohol Department… It’s not too surprising that Jackson’s Food and Drink would create a cocktail called a light saber, given the fact that they’re next door to a movie theater that will be showing a certain film involving that  implement. The odd part is that the cocktail of vodka, lemonade, and raspberries is bright red, the color of the weapons used by the evil Sith lords. Yes, there is a skewer of blueberries on top for contrast, but overall it looks like the bad guys are winning. It’s still a cute idea, and I won’t be surprised if a lot of moviegoers decide to stop in and have one. I presume the management will not accept responsibility for injuries caused by duels with the skewers after you toss down a few, so be sure to duel responsibly… (Jackson’s Food and Drink, 2041 Rosecrans, El Segundo. 310-606-5500)

Any new restaurants, food events, other good cocktails with silly names? Send a tip – I’m at Richard@richardfoss.com…

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