Richard Foss

Gabi James and Madero open, sandwiched in MB and a new pizzeria, and more dining news

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A La Carte Column for the week of 07 April 2018

(L to R) Co-owner Adam Aro poses with Guy Gabriele and Executive Chef Chris Feldmeier. Not pictured: Co-owner Sara Gabriele. Photo by Richard Foss

In Crossword Puzzles, Reversing Course… The theme for the week is turnarounds, since there have been so many lately in the local restaurant scene. I’ll start with the one that has been most anticipated, the transformation of Zazou into Gabi James. The room has been transformed from rustic cool to dramatic modernity, and the menu shows heavy influence of the Spanish and French Mediterranean. Chef Chris Feldmeier worked at Mozza and Moruno, and he brings modern flair to Iberian flavors. I liked Zazou, but this is a distinct upgrade, serving a cuisine otherwise absent in the South Bay and doing it with style (1810 S. Catalina RB)…

The word Madero means lumber in Spanish, but Redondo’s newest Mexican restaurant doesn’t commemorate the construction material that used to flow in at the nearby wharves in the 1800’s. Madero is the family name of the owners, but since the business has no web presence I had to call to check. Perhaps the owners were too busy masterminding the complete renovation of the former Hostaria Piave, because they managed the task with incredible speed. The place is bright and welcoming, the menu contemporary Mexican, and prices are midrange. Now that their physical space is open I’m sure they’ll take care of the webspace part, but until then you can stop in at 231 S. PCH in Redondo. The phone number is 310-527-1951, in case you have questions too…

And in contrast to both of those Redondo restaurants, despite new management there has been no change at all at the Redondo Beach Café. They’re still serving the eccentric combination of American coffee shop fare with Greek and Canadian specialties, at least for now. A manager said the new owners may add items to the menu in time, but for now things will stay the same…

Hermosa had only one opening in the last two weeks, and you might have missed it because it is almost certainly the smallest business location in town. There is room for two people inside Fresh Spot if they’re both friends; it’s a walk-up counter on the Pier Plaza that was formerly Project Taco. They’re serving smoothies, juice, and a “vegan carnitas” taco, and I have to say I have never seen those two words together before. You can try one by strolling to 34 Pier Avenue…

Manhattan Beach has had more activity. The former Nikau Kai burrito shop is in the midst of renovations and will open soon as Homie. The menu will include sandwiches and light meals, plus burritos because some people loved the ones previously served here.

A burger in the foreground, and the architecture of Jute restaurant in the background. Photo by Richard Foss.

Another opening is more upscale, the new restaurant at the Westdrift Hotel, formerly Manhattan Beach Marriott. It is named Jute after the coarse fiber generally used to make rope, doormats, and sacks. The cuisine is anything but coarse, under the direction of Octavio Sabado, a veteran of the famous Bazaar Restaurant at the SLS Hotel. They’re in soft opening phase as of this writing and are serving only about half of the menu. I stopped in for a burger and fries and they were top notch though priced on the high side at $18. The setting overlooking the golf course is lovely and some of the menu items are intriguing, so I’ll be back when they’re up to speed…

Meanwhile, in El Segundo… The tasting room at El Segundo Brewing has been popular almost since they opened, with many beer fans bringing in food from elsewhere. They’ll have a new hangout soon, since El Segundo Brewing is opening up a pizzeria and gastropub right around the corner. It will be called Slice and Pint, a clever name that is also descriptive. Watch for an opening on Grand Avenue just west of Main in a few months.

Event Alerts!… Chez Melange still serves a variety of items even though the main dining room became Sea Change, and their wine dinners balance items from the briny deep alongside terrestrial denizens. A case in point is the next one with Frog’s Leap Winery on April 23rd, which will pair elegant Napa Valley wines with whitefish and lobster as well as duck and lamb. Five courses are $85 plus T&T, and if you haven’t been getting enough Chez Melange in your diet you can now stop by for lunch at their Bouzy gastropub. They’re serving sandwiches, burgers, tacos, salads, and pub grub at very modest prices, so you can enjoy your favorite eclectic dining experience more of the day now…

It’s All About The Beef, ‘Bout The Beef… If seafood is the farthest thing from your mind, you might prefer to attend the “Beef Sampler Dinner” at Yamaya in Torrance. On April 25h they’ll offer a rare opportunity to try a variety of different cuts of beef so you can experience the different flavors and textures. The menu includes short ribs from three different breeds of cow, including the famous Miyazaki wagyu. The complete dinner is $75 including tax & tip, with wine or sake available for an extra $20. Space is limited – this link will take you to “Beef sampler” at Eventbrite.com to see the full menu and reserve….

Any new restaurants in town, any events, anywhere else to drink wine named after amphibians? I’m at Richard@richardfoss.com…

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