Compagnon Bistro: Classic cuisine in style

When I talk with newcomers to the Peninsula about San Pedro, I find many have impressions of the city based almost exclusively on the Gaffey corridor of chain stores, fast food joints, and little of cultural interest. Most know that there’s an old downtown area but are hard-pressed to name any destination there except for…

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Split personality

Those who read my columns on a regular basis may have noticed I’m rarely the first to review a restaurant. This is deliberate, because as much as readers may want to know about a new eatery, what they’re doing the day they open may not reflect the long term experience. The chef may discover an…

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Noodles in style

I never expect character in a modest strip mall restaurant because most have a very sensible business plan of getting people in and out as soon as possible. That involves not making the furniture too comfortable or the décor too interesting, and possibly getting a subscription to a music playlist called “Mildly irritating jazzy pop…

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Big restaurant projects, lost chicken alert, wine dinners, and more

The Empires Expand: There has been much talk about the way some local restaurant groups are becoming increasingly dominant in the South Bay. The Simms Group is one of the most active, and stands apart from most others in opening creative, chef-driven restaurants rather than duplicating previous endeavors. Their newest venture is Attagirl in the…

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North Redondo’s neighborhood hang

In the ‘80s I shared a somewhat decrepit old house in North Redondo with a couple of oddball roommates, and as a matter of course we scoped out all the restaurants within walking distance. We had cars, and they even ran sometimes, but it was fun to explore the neighborhood at ground level. We had…

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Fresh look at fresh seafood

Sometimes readers contact me to ask why I haven’t reviewed one of their favorite spots, to my momentary puzzlement. The experience is still fresh in my mind, as is the lead I composed for the article… Let me look that up in my archive. Hmmm, this was published two decades ago, funny how time flies.…

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10 ways 2023 dining informs 2024

The South Bay dining scene is shaped by a mix of forethought and improvisation. Some changes are caused by business plans set in motion years ago, their designs fossilized in permit applications that can’t be altered, while others reflect operators adapting to changing trends as they happen. Entrepreneurs with restaurant projects are looking at 2023…

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Golden age on a side street

Nostalgia is a powerful thing, but not a new one – Romans of the Imperial era lamented that people in their day did not lead as joyous and virtuous lives as their ancestors. The British at the peak of their empire looked back fondly on the days of Queen Elizabeth, the French in the 1950s…

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Mexico City by the Bay

I was puzzled when the new owners of the former Blue Agave restaurant in Hermosa changed the name to Marena, which is Spanish for “from the sea.” It might be an excellent name for a place specializing in Baja or Veracruz cuisine, but that’s not the specialty here. The cooking at Marena is in the…

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Chickens Gone Global

Fried chicken has been multicultural from its beginnings, a Scottish cooking style married to a West African tradition of battering using a seasoned flour. Those traditions combined in the American South in the 1830s and were an instant hit. Regional styles quickly developed, with cornmeal used in some areas, wheat in others, and seasonings mild,…

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Australian gone global

Ask most Americans about Australian food and you’ll get a jumble of disconnected impressions that have little to do with reality. Top will be “shrimp on a barbie,” a phrase Australians don’t use, because anything big enough to be skewered and grilled will be referred to as a prawn. The bloomin’ onion isn’t an Aussie…

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More than just a steak

Musician Brian Eno once wrote a list of what he called “Oblique Strategies” for solving creative problems, which are valuable for many endeavors besides music. One of my favorites is “Make a blank canvas valuable by putting it in a perfect frame.” I find this advice useful when considering the pros and cons of steakhouses.…

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