Richard Foss

Rockefeller opens in Redondo, history-themed bistro on the way, Pappy van Winkle dinner, and more South Bay restaurant news

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Oyster expert Carolyn Tillie will host a dinner at Chez Melange next Monday. Photo provided by Ms. Tillie

Grand Parade Of Bivalves… I have a soft spot for oysters, so am leading off with a note about a dinner on Monday, November 12, at which they’ll be in everything except dessert. A seafood-based five course dinner is thematically perfect for Sea Change at Chez Melange, and oyster expert and author Carolyn Tillie will be on hand to share oyster lore. Those who enjoy the delicate, sensual joys of shellfish will find this a must-attend event. It’s $55 plus T&T for the meal, and corkage is waived, so bring the wines that go well with bivalves in every style. (310) 540-1222 for reservations…

Redondo Is Rocking… The sound of restaurant construction is loud in the land, and Redondo is in the forefront. Saws are down and forks are up at The Rockefeller in Riviera Village, which is not an exact copy of their other operations. Along with their full menu they offer “grab & go” breakfast and lunch and a variety of coffee drinks. It’s an interesting experiment in extending the brand identity (1707 S. Catalina, RB)… After a decade in business Hudson House is evolving too, having closed for a while for a remodel and menu change. They’re brightening up the previously murky interior and changing from a gastropub concept to something more adventurous involving local produce and Asian influences. I’d tell you more about that but they’re keeping things secret until the grand reopening, which is scheduled for Nov. 7, the day before this article comes out (514 N. PCH, RB)… Old Tony’s on the Pier is open again after a few weeks shuttered for a kitchen redesign, and construction is ongoing at The Slip on the Boardwalk, which closed for repairs a few weeks ago. The damp and salty environment of the waterfront makes upkeep in this area more difficult, and I hope they reopen soon… Things are coming along at 1892 Bistro, the former Tapas & Vino, and shove should be lit within two weeks. The name of the restaurant isn’t from the street number, but from the fact that Redondo Beach became a city in 1892. They plan to have some dishes from that period on the menu, which is a novel idea… For those with a sweet tooth, Creamistry will be bringing liquid nitrogen ice cream to Redondo on Saturday November 10. If you’ve never had the stuff before, it’s distinctly different from the conventional stuff, and it’s lots of fun to watch it being made to order. Gawk and eat free ice cream from 3 to 5 p.m. this Saturday at 403 N. PCH in Redondo…

Pappy At Gabi’s… Pappy Van Winkle is arguably the most famous and expensive Bourbon, and supplies are so short that most bars can’t get their hands on a bottle of it. It is therefore remarkable to serve six different expressions of it at one sitting. Gabi James is doing exactly that at a whiskey dinner to be held on Monday, Dec. 3. Guests will sample whiskies from 10 to 23 years old accompanied by a five-course dinner that includes grilled quail, beef cheek with grits, and a tomahawk pork chop. The price is $350 inclusive, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to sell out. (310) 540-4884 to reserve…

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Between The Bookends… The major action is at either end of the Beach Cities, but there was a solitary opening in Manhattan Beach. Or rather reopening, since the California Pizza Kitchen location at Manhattan Village served for over a decade before moving about 50 feet into an adjacent location. The next mall openings will be in 2019, when Mercado, an upscale taqueria, will be joined by Urban Plates and Joey’s. Joey’s is a Canadian chain offers a gleefully multicultural menu, but they are all an upgrade to the area… There is another vacant space in the mall as Brickworks Roasthouse has closed after struggling for several years. The meat-focussed restaurant was inconsistent in both food and service and never found their niche. A better run place could do well in this location, so it will be interesting to see who steps up…

And Meanwhile, in El Segundo… The El Segundo scene does nothing but accelerate. When I last wrote a column the Alii Fish Company was just about to open in the former Beach Mex location on Grand Avenue. As you might guess from the name, they specialize in Hawaiian-style seafood, but with quite a few more flourishes than most of their competitors. Their fish is flown in from Hawaii, and they serve it as poke, sandwiches, and salads. Be aware that there isn’t a land animal on the menu, so if it isn’t fish or veggie, it isn’t here (409 E. Grand, ES)… Work continues at the city’s first coffee roasting business, which shares ownership with Blue Butterfly coffee house but is at a different location. The projected opening is within a week, and once they get the roasters running, they will be open to the public. I’ll post the location when they’re ready for visitors… Work is going at the new pizza and beer focused Slice and Pint but they are being coy about when their soft opening will actually commence. Haven’t seen it? It’s the classic 1920s era building at 130 Main Street… Progress has been unexpectedly slow at the Elevon development, but Lisa’s Bon Appetit Cafe is hoping to be open by the end of November. The two Petros operations, the Petros Saloon and the Kafe Bougatsa custard pastry bakery, probably won’t start serving until 2019. All of these operations have been underway for years, and nobody seems to want to talk about why all of them are running significantly late…

First Looks… I have visited Calo Kitchen and Tequila on Rosecrans twice and found the food to be excellent, the space elegantly decorated but bizarre in its design. The servers have to navigate a maze that includes stairs while carrying plates of food, and they’re not only earning their pay but also putting many miles on their sneakers. Parking is an issue too, and putting this many restaurant seats in a place with so little parking is a mysterious lapse of judgement on the part of the developer. The restaurant seems to be doing very well nonetheless, and could fill a lot more seats than they have (2191 Rosecrans #B, ES)… I also stopped in at Jetta in downtown El Segundo, which is in similar straits. The little cafe was packed, the parking was maxed, but it was worth it because the food was excellent. The restaurant is owned by the sisters behind the BKK101 and Hidden Garden Thai restaurants in Culver City, and like them serves a modern but authentic version of one of the world’s great cuisines (243 Main St., ES)…

A Summer Refresher In Winter… I’m not sure why A Basque Kitchen decided to schedule their Sangria Week from November 9th through 18th, but I assume that sampling a strawberry rhubarb sangria when there’s a little chill in the air will bring back the feeling of summer. Or maybe it won’t, but I’ll drink the stuff at any time of year, especially novel formulations like they offer. I had never heard of burnt persimmon sangria and can’t imagine what that’s like, so I guess I’ll have to stroll down the Boardwalk to find out (136 N. International Boardwalk, RB)…

And In Conclusion… I rely on you, dear readers, to help me cover this area and am always grateful for news and tips. Are there any new restaurants, any old ones that have changed, any interesting food events, any other places to sip superb whiskies? I’m at richard@richardfoss.comER

 

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