Richard Foss

Hermosa restaurant openings ahead, Redondo high-end coffee, Chef Darren celebrated, and more dining news

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A La Carte column for 14 June 2018

It has been years since Cafe Pierre was replaced by Love & Salt, but on a recent evening the new restaurant served the old menu. This was also a reunion for customers and staff of Cafe Pierre. Shown here are Guy Gabriele, Sylvie Gabriele, Stephane LeGarrec (14 year employee) , Jean Phillippe Molinari (10 years), Patricia Noilhan (40 years), Pam Jensen (7 years), Lynn Gardner-Supernaugh (9 years) and Victor Salceda (33 years). Photo by Richard Foss

Accuracy Versus Tact… Confucius is said to have remarked that the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name. All the same, one can go too far with bluntness. It’s possible that Hey 19’s designation of their gluten-free, keto, and vegan selection as the “High Maintenance Menu” will offend some people, though it can’t be denied that it’s a memorable name. As an omnivore who has cooked for guests with all of those dietary restrictions I can vouch that yes, it is a great deal of work to change your style to suit different diets while avoiding cross-contamination. I guess I’m on the same side as Confucius here…

Opened, Opening, Open Soon, Open Question… Waterman’s on the Pier Plaza has been open for a few weeks since a slight remodel and major menu change, and the place has cleaned up nicely. I tried their Thursday special of poke tacos, made with fried wonton skins and was impressed, and will be stopping in again… Right across from them, newcomer ITA looks like they’re about ready to open. It’s a project by Italian celebrity chef Antonino Esposito, and it promises to bring high style pizzas to the plaza… Around the corner and down the street, Serve on Second is up and running in the former Tammie’s space, which has been comprehensively remodeled and is lovely. The food is health-conscious Americana, and they’re still tinkering with some items. (190 Hermosa Ave., HB)… Another remodel in Hermosa went in a rather strange direction Chelsea was completely repainted but then repainted back the way it was. (There are computer programs that let you look at color combinations).The menu has been simplified and some of my favorite items are missing, but I hope they’ll come back… Just down the block, work is visibly underway at Decadence, but there is a huge amount yet to be done, and it’s hard to believe that they’ll make the July opening date that was mooted about earlier this year… Finally, the former Pinkberry on PCH by, at Aviation Boulevard, will soon be another branch of the Yellow Vase Cafe. I suspect they’ll be offering more than the breakfast and brunch that are at the rest of their locations, but that’s only based on the beer taps being installed there…

Other Openings… Sister’s Barn on PCH in South Redondo has passed their inspections and should be open by the end of June, serving variations on barbecue in a gastropub environment. I have been waiting for this one partly to see what the interior will look like – will it really resemble a barn? Will we dine among the pigs and chickens? That would certainly set them apart from other local restaurants… A newcomer in El Segundo also has an unusual name: Tocaya Organica just moved into The Point at the corner of Rosecrans and PCH. I have been to the original in Venice and liked their take on modern Mexican cuisine. They are well positioned in the market as the only Mexican place in this area, and should do well.

Event Alerts!… The annual Celebrate Wellness food and beverage event has been at the South Coast Botanic Garden for 22 years, and in 2018. This summer, it is scheduled for Sunday, June 24. An afternoon of fine food and wine is offered for $150 per person, with proceeds benefiting the Cancer Support Community of Redondo Beach. Tickets and more information are at celebratewellness.org… That event gets first mention in this section on account of their noble cause, but a lot else is happening. Most people only think of crawfish boils around Mardi Gras, but Chez Melange will host one on June 18. The modest price of $29 gets you plenty of crawfish, andouille sausage, potatoes, and corn. It’s a deal on a classic Southern feast – call (310) 540-1222 for reservations… On a more elevated plane, Fleming’s on Rosecrans will be hosting a wine dinner with wines by Orin Swift winery of St. Helena on June 22. Price is $110, inclusive – reserve by calling 310-643-6911…

Congratulations Are In Order… Chef Darren Weiss has been involved in the local dining community for decades, steadily gaining a higher profile in the culinary community despite being deaf. A new biopic called “Chef Darren” celebrates his rise from the days when his parents were told he would never be a functional member of society to his current status as an inspiration to other chefs, challenged and otherwise. The film premiered in San Francisco last week and though no showings have been scheduled in the South Bay, it’s something to watch for. Congratulations, sir.

Making Monday Special… Every restaurateur looks for ways to bring in customers on Mondays and Tuesdays, nights so slow that some places just give up and close for the evening. The Bottle Inn Riviera has set their sights high – they don’t just want you to show up on Monday, they want you to bring at least three companions. On Mondays they offer family dinners for parties of four or more, complete Italian family-style meals for $75 plus tax & tip. It’s a great idea to do this on the day that people are notoriously recovering from their weekends – they hope to hear the echoes of people all over town saying, “I’m too dragged out to cook – let’s go out.” Menu changes monthly – check their website for details…

Personal Conversation Not Necessary… The word “Klatch” means gossip in German, and it was appended to coffee in the 1950s to describe a talkative, chatty gathering. (This was probably the first and last time that Germans were associated with any advance in coffee culture.) The name is still celebrated with a new coffee shop called Klatch. It just opened in Redondo at 306 West PCH. They’re a boutique roaster, based in Rancho Cucamonga. They’ve that has won numerous awards, including the “Golden Bean” for best espresso. I had never heard of this award but already want to try theirs just to see if it matches or beats the best I’ve ever had…

And The Usual Conclusion… Any new restaurants I should know about, any events, any other places for mind blowing espresso? I’m at richard@richardfoss.com…

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