Steaks and beer, The Deck endures, upcoming openings, scam alert, and other dining news

BrewsHall opened on May 5th in the former Mediterraneo/Rebel Republic space and was immediately full to capacity. Photo by JP Cordero.

A La Carte column for 13 May 2021

BrewsHall opened on May 5th in the former Mediterraneo/Rebel Republic space and was immediately full to capacity. Photo by JP Cordero.

Blossoming In Spring: LA County’s movement to the lowest tier of pandemic restrictions occurs just as restaurateurs are gearing up for the summer crowds. This is a happy event for both established places, and new projects that have been able to navigate the maze of permits and find staff in a very tight market. I’ll start with a rundown of recent openings before getting to the ones in progress.

Beer-Centric Newcomers: The Brews Hall on the Hermosa Pier Plaza managed an astonishingly fast yet comprehensive remodel in order to open on schedule on May 5. They were able to bring over experienced staff from their Torrance location, so avoided many of the jitters that plague new operations. The formula is simple: burgers, sandwiches, fries, tacos, salads, and other bar food washed down with craft beers or cocktails, including their signature boozy shakes. They have plenty of practice at this, and the early reports have been positive (73 Pier Ave, (424) 348-0800)… Over in Redondo, The Speakeasy Tavern is serving at the former Avenue A. With that name I expected a Prohibition vibe, but the place is still a sports bar. The new owners have redecorated the formerly scruffy interior and added pool tables, so it’s a definite improvement over the previous establishment. The menu is short and simple, but I’ll be surprised if they don’t add to it over time (800 S. PCH, RB)…

Finally, The Rex: For a while I wondered whether The Rex Steakhouse would ever open. The project was announced in summer of 2019 and scheduled to debut that year, but postponed several times. They’re now serving classic dinner house fare in a space that tastefully updates mid-century design. Chef Walter Nunez has worked at vegetable-focused Jardiniere in San Francisco, and it will be interesting to see what he does with local produce here (221 Avenue I, RB)…

Italy, Not Japan: Those who know their Asian history might expect a place called Edo Bites to specialize in ancient Japanese snacks. Edo is the old name for Tokyo. The truth is quite different — the mini-chain was named after chef Eduardo Frescobaldi’s nickname, and their newest location in the Manhattan Village opened last weekend. Their specialty is modern casual Tuscan food including pizzas and sandwiches, and they’re priced moderately for celebrity chef fare. The Manhattan Village dining options are making the area a dining destination, albeit one entirely driven by outsiders — none of the new entrants are locally owned (3180 N. Sepulveda)…

A Nostalgic Return: The 31 Flavors on PCH in Manhattan Beach reopened with new interior decor, which consists mainly of pictures of their old interior décor. Not the version that closed recently, but the place as it was in 1956. It will evoke nostalgia among the generations who went there as kids for after-school ice cream cones, shakes, or for a real treat, hot fudge sundaes (which ran 35 cents in one of the menus on the wall). It’s a nice look, but I wish they had gone all the way and reverted to the original style to create an ice-cream flavored time machine…

And Upcoming Attractions: El Porto will get a new South Asian restaurant when Nawa Thai opens in the former Kotosh space on Highland. No word yet on how soon that will happen, but the space has been cleared and remodeling work appears to be in progress… Downtown will get another boutique coffee roaster when Verve opens at the edge of the Metlox development facing the boulevard. Verve started in Santa Cruz and currently has 10 locations in California and four in Japan. Once Good Boy Bob roasters opens a few blocks away on Highland, there will be four coffeehouses within a few blocks of each other, and if another opens in the former Coffee Bean space this area could become known as the caffeine district. (I’ve been trying to find out what is going in at that CBTL space, and if anybody knows, I’d appreciate a tip)… Over the city line at the Pointe, Little Sister has announced that their location in the former Superba will be open in June. The space across from them, formerly Umi sushi bar, will become Cava, offering Middle Eastern-inspired salads, bowls, and pita sandwiches. They’re hoping to start slinging falafels this summer… There’s also an update on the Dinghy Deli on the Redondo Boardwalk – the city has approved the lease and the owners hope for a quick turnaround after a remodel. No word yet on the style of deli or menu, but I’ll let you know as soon as I get details…

Back From The Dead Again: After declaring in February that they’d close in April, and then revising that to say the last day would be in May, The Deck has been granted what a reliable source called an “indefinite extension.” They hope to keep operating through summer, so you have a while longer to stop in for burgers and brew. There has been no word what will happen at the adjacent Slater’s 50/50 space, which has been mysteriously stalled despite several bidders for the property…

Probably Still Dead: The Brazilian Bowls concept that was supposed to go in at Highland and Marine seems to be desmorando (that’s “fallen apart” in Portuguese, in case you wondered). There are eviction notices on the door and the place has been cleared out again. Work is proceeding inside, presumably to make room for the next tenant. If someone moves in with a concept that attracts the beach traffic and local residents, they have a fighting chance of making it here, though insiders say that the landlord is asking a high price that makes it difficult to support a modest operation…Another restaurant casualty was never part of the fine dining scene but was in operation for over 50 years – the Jack in the Box on PCH in Manhattan Beach. That’s prime real estate, so I expect the space to be completely redeveloped. Then again, I’m surprised sometimes, and perhaps someone will decide that the city needs a new drive-through burger joint… Over on Rosecrans, the Pier 76 Fish Grill closed too, probably a casualty of low staffing levels in the surrounding office towers due to the pandemic. I was sorry to see them go, because they did a good job for the fast fish genre…

Beware The Scammers: Restaurants sometimes experience a drop in website traffic and only much later discover that it is because a company masquerading as them is diverting their customers. A case in point – the Easy Reader was contacted by someone who asked us to “update” our online review of Decadence Restaurant in Hermosa by removing the link to their website and substituting one to something called “restaurantji.” This wasn’t the first time that had happened, so I decided to investigate. A call to Skylar Tourigny, owner of Decadence, confirmed that this “update” was unauthorized and she had never heard of that company. Skylar asked that anyone who is investigating a business online please make sure they are dealing with the restaurant’s own website, and if they are not sure, please call to check. These hijacker sites usually have inaccurate or out of date information and make their money by either steering business to competitors who pay fees or by siphoning off delivery traffic. I suspect that a lawyer who looked into this might do a great service to the restaurant industry by hitting some of these hijackers hard in the wallet, because it should be easy to document that they are misleading the people they contact and causing actual damage to the blissfully unaware owners. If any attorneys do a service to the restaurateurs, I’d be delighted to hear news of it…

And In Closing: Have you seen a new culinary business that I haven’t heard about, a local event either live or virtual? You can reach me at richard@richardfoss.com…  ER

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