Straight talk, Ramen in MB, Clubby British in Hermosa, Seafood to Beer in Redondo

Variations on this message are all over the South Bay. This sign is at Pollo Inka in Hermosa. Photo by Richard Foss

A La Carte column for 02 September 2021

Variations on this message are all over the South Bay. This sign is at Pollo Inka in Hermosa. Photo by Richard Foss

Straight Talk From Taco Land… The management at Tacolicious, which has a location on Manhattan Avenue, sent out a startlingly honest message that reads in part, “…we need to be frank with you: Along with the majority of restaurants in the U.S., we are not ok. Things appear shoddy for a reason. If you’ve noticed our lack of seats, it’s because due to the labor shortage, we can’t operate at our normal capacity. Our furniture is banged up because we don’t have the revenue to fix tables that were never meant to weather parklet life. The food supply chain is a mess and what products we can get are going up in price. We are bailing water from being forced to close and negotiate back rent and we are now tasked with being the gatekeepers of vaccination cards and the guardians of your health…” They use this as a pitch for readers to contact their Congresspeople to support the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which helps restaurants affected by Covid. I’d like to add my voice to this effort, because as I mentioned at the beginning of this column, even places that seem full have a hard road to remaining profitable right now. Restaurants need your patronage, and they need your support to shift the business environment to one where well-run businesses may pay their workers a living wage and also make a return on investment for the owners. Neither of those things is happening now, and that needs to change…

No Known Military Connection: Marine Ramen is the latest tenant of the odd little building at the corner of Highland and the eponymous street, and they opened quietly a few weeks ago. At the moment they’re serving dine-in only while getting up to speed, and they’ve caught on quickly. On a recent evening all tables were full with patrons slurping Japanese-style noodle soup with homemade broths. With the exception of a few sides and snacks that’s all they serve, though the menu may expand in the future (2201 Highland, MB)…

A New British Classic: The venerable Underground Pub has long had an annex called Chelsea that had a wavering identity, sometimes a dance club and nightspot, sometimes a lively bistro. They’ve been getting serious about their food since the arrival of chef Darren Weiss, and have now gone all in on tradition with cuisine and décor. The decorator’s description for the place is headlined “Winston Churchill vibes,” and that’s an apt description as it now resembles a manorial drawing room. The menu has some of Chef Darren’s signature dishes, but also pheasant sausage and a hunter’s pie with wild boar, lamb, and pork. It’s an interesting evolution and I can hardly wait to try the new items (1332 Hermosa Avenue, upstairs)…

Storm On The Way: Perfect Storm, the restaurant in the space behind Table Manners that was formerly Chez Melange, is scheduled to open in late October. Other projects in the neighborhood have been delayed due to the backlog in construction paperwork, including Vida, the modern taqueria co-owned by Mickey of Mickey’s Deli. The Dinghy Deli, which is moving into the corner of the Boardwalk that was briefly Polly’s, is going to take a bit longer than originally estimated too. Among all this change in the area, we do need to salute a milestone for a classic establishment, as Captain Kidd’s turns 45 this weekend…

Missing In Action: The sign on Fruition Organic Market & Deli in the Goat Hill center in Manhattan Beach announces that they’ll be reopening soon, which I believe because someone recently put a lot of effort into making their webpage one of the prettiest restaurant sites I’ve ever seen. That isn’t the case at King Shabu Shabu in Redondo, which has fervent fans but as of this week a disconnected phone number and website. That’s generally a sign of death in the restaurant world. It seems that we have also lost Sion’s, which suffered a kitchen fire in June. A Go Fund Me raised over $38,000 to cover repairs, but as the entire lot that includes the adjacent hotel is up for sale it seems unlikely that they will reopen. Condolences to the Orozco family, who gave such pleasant hospitality for so many decades…

So Long Fish, Hello Beer: A Fish and Friends on the Redondo Boardwalk has shuttered, to be replaced by a new restaurant by the owners of Project Barley Brewery in Lomita. Project Barley is known for their Belgian-style ales, though they also make IPAs and other more standard beers. Their brewery doesn’t serve food but this space will, and since Lowell Bakke of Standing Room is a partner, we may expect bodacious burgers as some component of the menu…

Mystery In Downtown MB: A local restaurant operator is reportedly interested in the Manhattan Avenue space that was considered for a Mama D’s return to the neighborhood. It’s going to require considerable remodeling, since it hasn’t been a restaurant in decades. Just across the street, the former Costa restaurant has been vacant for over a year, and doesn’t seem to be for sale or lease despite the fact that it must be costing somebody a fortune in rent. Does anybody know what’s happening over there? As always my email address is at the end of this column…

Goodbye To-go, Hello Dine-in: Baran’s 2239 has been at the forefront of fine dining during the lockdown, serving exceptional, five-course meals with all the instructions to replicate the restaurant experience. After over a year of this they’re served over eighty different menus, but as they are confident enough to restart dine-in service this week’s to-go dinner will be their last. Those who enjoy that experience should contact them immediately to get a Southern dinner complete with chicken and shrimp gumbo. The restaurant plans to reopen on September 22 with a menu similar to what they served a year and a half ago, “except with more attention to detail.” and will keep serving their popular breakfast burritos on weekends…

And in closing: Have you seen a new culinary business that I haven’t heard about, a local event people need to know about, a new place for savory British pies? You can reach me at richard@richardfoss.com… ER

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