Richard Foss

Darren’s Closed, Darren Still Here, Admiral Risty Sinks, New Openings, and Local Dining Events

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A La Carte column for 07 February 2019

KTLA meteorologist Vera Jimenez (right) volunteered as celebrity bartender for an evening at Paddy O’Brien’s to raise funds for bartender Cori Davis, who is receiving treatment for lupus. Joining in the fund raising are Brian Herlihy of Tito’s Vodka, Phil Kong of Lupus LA and Paddy O’Brien’s owner Brian Eldridge.

Darren’s gone, Darren Isn’t… After just over two decades of serving creative modern food, Darren’s in downtown Manhattan Beach has closed. Chef-owner Darren Weiss will now have more time with his family, but will still be part of the local dining scene. Darren’s brother Seth owns Underground and The Chelsea in Hermosa, and Darren will be helping in the kitchens. It will be good to have a firm hand at Chelsea, which has experimented with different concepts without getting a firm foothold as a food destination.

The space on Manhattan Avenue will become a new steak and seafood focused eatery by David Slay, who owns Park Avenue in the West OC town of Stanton. Park Avenue is noteworthy for serving herbs and produce grown on their five-acre farm next to the restaurant. He will be bring in top quality produce and wine from his vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills. The new restaurant will be called Slay Steak & Fish House, and is expected to open in April…

Admiral Risty to sink beneath the seas… After serving more than two and a half million fish dinners over the last 52 years, Admiral Risty is finally calling it quits. August 17 will be the last day of service, so if you want to go back for one more bowl of their famous cioppino you have a little time. This is where I tried cioppino for the first time as a teenager, and it has been the standard by which I measure all others. The menu and style have changed little since the place opened, and it has been a nostalgic pleasure for many who made long drives after moving out of the area. No word on what restaurant will take this prime ocean view space…

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Openings And Progress Reports… Slice and Pint is serving on Grand Avenue in El Segundo, and they’re delivering on the promised gourmet pizza and craft beer. The food is good, the people friendly, the sound level very high. El Segundo has had a lower rate of pizzerias per capita than the other beach cities, and based on the crowd when I visited, this place could have a future (130 W. Grand, ES)… Elsewhere in town, Lisa’s Bon Appetit Bistro missed their planned opening date on Monday but may be open by the time you read this. It’s the largest restaurant in the Elevon development on Douglas, and could be the draw that brings in more locals to this quiet space… Meanwhile in Hermosa, Decadence is almost ready to open – watch for the long vacant space to get lively around the beginning of March. Owner Skylar Tourigny will offer California cuisine with Vietnamese influences, which had been popular at her previous restaurant in North Manhattan Beach… On the Rosecrans corridor, nothing much seems to be happening at the former PF Chang’s site that is supposed to become Chin Chin and The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker. I reached someone at another Chin Chin location who said that it’s going to be another three to four months…

Event Alerts… I have heard from experts that Champagne is always in season, and it does raise morale even on a cool and soggy day, such as we’ve been having lately. Sommelier Nadia Pavleska will be conducting a Champagne tasting at Georgia’s on Aviation this Sunday from 3 to 5:30 PM, so if the idea of nine pours, oysters, and some education about pairings sounds like a good idea you’ll want to be there. It costs $160 — go to and click Champagne Extravaganza… If you’re looking to spend a bit less and happen to like grilled cheese sandwiches and beer, you might head for Andrew’s Cheese Shop in Manhattan Beach instead. The afternoon includes a salad, four beer and sandwich pairings, and dessert for $60 per person. They’re offering three dates on February 9, 15 and 16 and I probably shouldn’t be surprised by that but I was. Apparently grilled cheese and beer is more popular than I had thought – go to Eventbrite for more details… Eventbrite is also where you go for an unusual event at an unusual time: a vermouth afternoon at Gabi James. On February 18th the owners of Vermina Vermouth will be at Gabi James from 3 to 5 PM to sip vermouth and nibble paella and pintxos, the Spanish style bruschetta. Vermina is made in Santa Barbara County and is a new brand, so this will be your chance to enjoy a new local drink both neat and in cocktails. The price is $40.00, and if you don’t know how to find tickets you might re-read this paragraph… The February 25th wine dinner at Chez Melange will bring in Kristin Bryden of Zaca Mesa Vineyards, who will host a five course dinner. Price is $79 plus tax & tip, and you can learn more at the Chez’s website,

Changes At Zinc… Zinc at Shade in Manhattan Beach has a new chef, Graham Norton, who had been at The Strand House for almost four years before taking the reins at Zinc. Based on the menu I saw, Norton is taking things in a slightly more straightforward direction but still keeping to the California eclectic theme…

Experts In Entertaining Educate… If you’d like to gain confidence in your skills in entertaining at home, the place to be on March First is the Designs in Dining event at St. Francis Episcopal Church in Palos Verdes. Four experts will explain topics related to making a meal memorable, from the flowers on the table to the items on the plates. Chef Robert Bell of Chez Melange is one of the speakers, and a stylish light lunch made by the parishioners will be served. For more information check their website at or call 310-375-4617…

Trust Is Important… I’m used to visiting restaurants without knowing what I’m going to have – after all, one of the fun things about the restaurant experience is deciding what to order. I didn’t get to do that this Monday because I had no idea what would show up at my table, and neither did anybody else. That’s the point of the Chez Melange Trust The Chef dinners, and why there is a curious anticipation as you wait for each item to arrive. (You can eavesdrop on neighboring tables to hear the server’s explanation, but there’s something unsporting about doing so.) On Monday the flavors were inspired by Louisiana, and all four courses were sensational. I decided to trust my server to order four short pours of wine so I had two surprises at each course, and I recommend you try it too. The next Trust The Chef dinner will be on Monday, March 4th – make a reservation at 310-430-1222, as they often sell out. (This is the place where I usually tell people that if they want more information they can go to the website, but they can’t this time, because that’s the point of this dinner)…

And In Conclusion… Your tips help me keep up with what’s happening around the neighborhood. Any openings I missed, any events, any other places serving great beer and grilled cheese? Please send an email to ER


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