Richard Foss

High hopes for Esperanza, Greeks bearing food, an eatery with a hook, and more restaurant news

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A La Carte column for 04 July 2019

GAA Architects of Irvine brings a Rodeo Drive look to downtown Manhattan Beach with its design for Esperanza Cocina de la Plaza (above). The new restaurant will replace Shark’s Cove (see below), which is scheduled to close at the end of summer.

This is what Shark’s Cove looks like now. File photo.

Changes At Shark’s Cove: Shark’s Cove sports bar in Manhattan Beach will close after Labor Day, to be replaced by Esperanza, a restaurant similar to and under the same management as Palmilla in Hermosa. The concept drawings for the space are dazzling, and it will be a major upgrade for the area. It’s a canny move because there is no other fine dining Mexican place in Downtown. Expect an opening around the end of the year…

Greek Is Back In Redondo: After a year as a conspicuously unsuccessful Hawaiian burger joint, a new concept is in at the space that was best known as the Redondo Beach Cafe. That restaurant proudly offered Canadian, Greek food, and American food, and the newcomer in that space, Taverna 1511, has some similarities. Gyros, avgolemono soup, and other Hellenic items round out a menu of American diner classics, and you can even get the Canadian poutine that made this place a major stop during hockey season. The new management apparently has no connection to any previous owners, but they’ve reverted to what last worked in this high-traffic location (1511 PCH, Redondo)…

A Surprising Expansion: Hook & Plow has been doing very well in their small space on Pier Avenue, and they are evidently confident that the concept can be transplanted. They’re taking over the 1892 Bistro in Riviera Village and will be closing it for remodeling soon. No word on how long this will take, but I presume they’ll want to get as much of the summer crowd as possible…

Local Offers

Italian In Hermosa: The turnaround at the former Kochi Indian restaurant on Aviation was quick, Spumoni Trattoria & Pizzeria is up and running. The remodel has created a handsome space, and the repainted exterior brightens the low-profile building. They serve classic Italian with homemade pastas and gnocchi, fresh seafood, and a few steaks and roasts. It’s a style you’d expect in downtown Hermosa, but with no parking problems, and it looks like a good strategy (1101 Aviation, HB)…

Top Opening: Top Tenders has opened in the former Four Brothers Burgers space at the corner of Inglewood and Manhattan Beach Boulevard, and they’re the second chicken-focused restaurant in this plaza. The other is Chicken Maison, and both are owned by the local Karame family. Top Tenders is all about fried chicken wings or boneless breast pieces with various rubs and sauces, served with simple sides of fries, macaroni salad, or Texas toast. The epicenter of chicken in the South Bay has shifted, and it will be interesting to see whether the legions of fans of the burger place embrace the new concept (2723 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, MB)…

El Segundo Mysteries: Two remodels are in process in El Segundo, I think. One is certain: the former Andiamo Pizza at the south end of Main Street will become a casual cafe, name and exact concept as yet unannounced. Based on the state of the construction they could open within the next month or two. The other looks like it will take longer longer. The Main Street Cafe at the north end of Downtown closed in February and signs went up announcing a new “Tropi-Cali” Brazilian cafe, but there is no sign of any work being done on the property. Permits and remodeling plans can take a long time, so this isn’t necessarily a danger signal. Anybody know what’s happening with either of these? Check the end of this column for my contact info…

Event Alerts: There are two consecutive beer pairing events in July, which is an odd coincidence. The “Taste of San Diego” on the 8th at Chez Melange brings together the brewmasters for Stone Brewing, Ballast Point, and Saint Archer, and will run $55 plus tax and tip. Call 310-540-1222 to reserve… The other event at Sloopy’s in North Manhattan will feature four courses paired with Stone beers, and this one is $55 inclusive. It’s interesting to see an event at Sloopy’s, the mellow beach cafe that has been a mainstay since the late ‘60s but rarely hosts events. Call 310-545-1373 for information and to reserve…

Bonjour a Gelson’s: I love food education and tastings of all kinds, and as such was happy to see that Gelson’s in Manhattan Beach will host a “Taste of France” on July 20th. Both employees and representatives of importers will be handing out samples and sharing ideas about recipes, so if you like French products and want to experience them this is the place to be. Time is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and there is no charge, though I’d bet that you’ll end up buying a few items to take home…

Small Part Of A Big Area: Dine LA Restaurant Week is July 12-26, and as we’re part of LA that means local restaurateurs are gearing up to create specials. Participating restaurants in our area are Abigaile, Baleen, Bettolino, Cafe Pacific (Trump), Decadence, Dia de Campo, FWD, Fleming’s, Il Fornaio, Jute, Little Sister, Paul Martin’s, RockNFish, Sausal, Sea Level, Second City, Steak & Whisky, The Arthur J, Strand House, and Zinc. Is there a place you’ve always been curious about but haven’t visited yet? This is a golden opportunity, but it’s best to have a reservation because lots of other people will have the same idea. Info and menus are at discoverlosangeles.com/dinela.

Literary Locals: Patrick Kuh, who now manages The Arthur J, has written a book called “Becoming a Restaurateur,” published by Simon and Schuster, about his transformation from dining critic to the front of the house. He’ll be presenting a reading and signing at Pages bookstore in downtown Manhattan Beach, and won’t have to commute very far from work because it’s across the street. The event is on July 14 at noon, and it’s free… Later this month Pages will also host an event with Jim Kempton, whose new cookbook is called “First We Surf, Then We Eat.” It’s a story of chasing the best waves and the best food around the world, with recipes included. Stop in on Tuesday, July 16th, from 6 to 7:30 P.M…  

Six Wines At Every Meal: Fleming’s has a longstanding relationship with Duckhorn, the award winning Napa Valley winery. You can now taste your way through their portfolio at any meal, because they have an unusual offer: for $35 you may sample six different Duckhorn wines to your heart’s content. That’s somewhere between the cost of two or three glasses at high-end places that stock these wines, so this is a deal…

Learning To Live With It: The minimum wage went up this week, and some local restaurateurs have issued gloomy predictions about the likely effect on the local industry. These probably aren’t unfounded, as the restaurant business has always been chancy, and soaring rents and increased costs thanks to the new tariffs have hurt everybody’s bottom line. Those restaurants that depend on traffic to nearby retail shops will face a double hit thanks to the decline of in-person shopping. The only silver lining to this is that the ability to make something close to a living wage may reduce the job-hopping and burnout that make it difficult to retain staff. A note to owners: complaining won’t change anything, though if you do it very loudly in front of customers you may succeed in alienating them. (Yes, I’ve seen that happen.) A hard business just got a little harder, but harping on your woes will only make people want to go someplace else…

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 for beer and food pairings? Please send an email to Richard@RichardFoss.com. ER

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