Richard Foss

Steaks on PCH, ceviche on Pier, and an impossible name

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A La Carte column for 13 August 2020

A customer’s antique police car is parked outside the new Pier Avenue El Tarasco. Photo by Richard Foss

Timing And Etiquette… To the delight of restaurateurs, the beach cities have been loosening regulations that forced very early closing times. Most have fewer seats than they used to, so turning the tables one more time each night is the key to being even marginally profitable. It may also allow more effective personal distancing, because everyone isn’t lining up to get their meal on the same schedule. One problem is that some customers are enjoying dining out so much that they want to sit around and chat after the meal, and servers have had to gently but firmly remind them to move on. Dear readers, please be good people and surrender your table at the end of the meal – it makes things better for everybody…

Welcome, Newcomers!… And yes, there are openings to report. Pacific Standard Prime is finally serving, though without chef Noah Gott, who injured his leg in a skiing accident. His replacement is a surprise – the widely respected Christine Brown, who is probably best known for her years at Restaurant Christine. She will be overseeing a kitchen turning out steaks and stylish versions of American classics, at first for only 22 diners at a time. Reservations are essential – book at pspsteak.com (1810 S. PCH, RB)… Another opening is surprising, the El Tarasco on Pier in Hermosa. Alongside the homestyle and uncomplicated food they’re known for, the menu here includes ceviche, fried whole fish, and an authentic and very spicy aguachile, marinated raw shrimp with avocado and red onion. It’s quite an innovation from a restaurant best known for gigantic burritos and very small tabs, and will help them stand out in an area with several other modestly priced Mexican options (337 Pier, HB)..,

One Coffee Up, One Coffee Down… Downtown denizens in Manhattan Beach have had a remarkable amount of choice when it comes to chain coffeehouses, with a Starbuck’s, Peet’s, and a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf within one block of each other. That situation is no more, because the Coffee Bean quietly shut down a week ago. By coincidence, a newcomer is moving in just around the corner. Good Boy Bob is the second location of an operation in Santa Monica, and their new space is across from Uncle Bill’s on Highland. No word yet on how soon they’ll be brewing up the black stuff…

Goodbye, Old Friends… The much-predicted winnowing of local restaurants is coming to pass as it becomes obvious that some temporary closings are permanent. Enrique’s and Bottega Romana in Redondo have shuttered, and several other temportary closures are looking like they may be final. Rok Sushi Kitchen in Hermosa has taken down their website and hasn’t responded to Facebook messages from as long ago as June, so hope is dwindling that they’ll reopen. Another hallowed space won’t even be a restaurant any more, as the Round Table Pizza location in Hermosa has been bought by an investor who “is not considering a restaurant option.” It’s the end of the line for a location that has been a pizzeria, fusion restaurant, sports bar, coffee shop, and Beach Boys-themed burger joint during its long existence…

Coming Attractions… The former Bottle Inn Riviera will soon become Mi Burrito, the third location for a casual Mexican chain. They may open within two weeks… Mosa in Hermosa Beach has announced a target date of August 26th with expanded patio seating that will bring them up to a capacity of 70 people. The menu will still have some of their popular Italian dishes but will also offer “California Coastal” cuisine…

Notes From Around… Riviera Mexican was briefly closed for remodeling, and has reopened looking almost exactly the same because all of the work involved modernizing the kitchen. They plan to extend the patio and add more outdoor seats, but otherwise the new owners are leaving it pretty much as it has always been… Construction continues at the new Eddie V’s Steakhouse on Rosecrans, and the place looks great. No word yet on how soon they will open… And Primo Italia just wouldn’t be the same without live entertainment, so the jazz is moving outside starting this weekend. This is an unusual move these days, because people like to linger at tables when there is live music, and most operators are trying to hustle them through. Cheers to Lou and the crowd for doing this, because good music in restaurants is part of the dining culture…

Strange Decisions… The Brazilian restaurant that will soon open in El Segundo has a one letter name, and that letter is one the most Americans don’t recognize and can’t pronounce. It is ô, which is pronounced “osz” with a slight lilt. Since this letter is not on a standard keyboard, I have no idea how anybody searching for this restaurant online is going to find it, but I predict this won’t go well…

Two Events (Both Virtual)… The Redondo Lobster Fest is a major event on many people’s calendars, a celebration of crustaceans that packs the pier area. And there’s the problem – we don’t want to pack anyplace these days. Fear not, because you can pick up the home version of the event thanks to Critic’s Choice Catering. On August 22 they’ll offer a $100 take home kit that will feed four, featuring locally sourced lobster rolls, grilled andouille sausage, a caesar salad, and sides. See the whole menu and pre-order at the criticschoicecvatering ‘website…  And you may remember that in a recent column I mentioned co-hosting a tasting seminar about gin, and it went so well that we’re doing it again on September 19th. We arrange delivery of both the beverages and the botanicals used to make them, and you enjoly a tasting in your own home. We’ll explain the history of botanical spirits and explore the distillers’ art with a tasting of five different styles of gin. Prices start at $65 – you can find more details at  the “Thoughtful Feast” events page on Eventbrite

And In Closing… Have you seen a new culinary business that I haven’t heard about, a local event either live or virtual? Do you have a favorite patio or know a place doing takeout with unusual flair? You can reach me at richard@richardfoss.com…

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