Richard Foss

A La Carte: latest Beach Cities restaurant news

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Chefs Dean McDermott, Tin Vuong of Abigaile, Emily Collison, Jet Tila, Jorge Valines,  and Tony diSalvo pose together with two unidentified colleagues at last month’s Abigaile kitchen takeover. Photo by Richard Foss

Chefs Dean McDermott, Tin Vuong of Abigaile, Emily Collison, Jet Tila, Jorge Valines, and Tony diSalvo pose together with two unidentified colleagues at last month’s Abigaile kitchen takeover. Photo by Richard Foss

Upending Manhattan Beach… The parade of changes in Manhattan Beach is astonishing, with numerous closures announced and more places on the market. In previous editions of this column I mentioned the pending transformation of Mucho into a new restaurant called Circa, featuring famed chef Octavio Becerra of Palate. I’ve since discovered that the bar manager will be Julian Cox, whose creations are featured at Rivera, the restaurant owned by John Sedlar, whose St. Estèphe was once the brightest star in the South Bay. Circa should open this coming week. Another follow-up: a few months ago I reported first that Chef Thierry Perez had leased the Sashi space, then that the deal had fallen through. The second report was in error – Perez is in and the space seems to be nearing the end of the remodeling process. I haven’t been able to find out anything about the concept, but given Thierry’s French roots and previous ventures Fraîche and L’Épicerie, we may reasonably expect Gallic classics…

And Now The New News… The 12 + Highland space has closed escrow and will soon become a private dining club, but so far I haven’t been able to get any information about either concept or chef. Elsewhere in Manhattan Beach, Kah restaurant is changing hands, Back Home in Lahaina is for sale, and the former Mr. Cecil’s space may become something other than a restaurant. I also have an update on The Boardroom, the restaurant in a North Manhattan building that has been undergoing one of the slowest renovations in recent memory. The chef will be Tyler Gugliotta, who has recently did a “pop-up” dinner in Marina Del Rey that included a smoked duck salad with fried avocado and tamarind dressing, pork belly and scallop with roasted celery root and horseradish emulsion, and a fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This isn’t necessarily what he’ll be serving at the new restaurant, where the proposed cuisine has been described as ”international small plates,” but it’s an indication that his instincts run to the wild side. The Boardroom should be open within two months, though I take all prospective opening dates with a grain of salt – projects in the city have a pretty poor track record for opening on schedule. Pitfire Pizza did well to open only a week late, but it is obviously getting a quick start – when I went by a few days after the first pies came out of the oven, the place was packed…

Event Alert… There’s a stellar meeting of talent at Strand House next Monday. James Beard Award-winning chefs Matt Molina and Nancy Silverton of Mozza (and La Brea Bakery fame) will be cooking while winemaker K.R. Rombauer of Rombauer Winery will supervise wine pairings. Cost will be $100.00 per person, $150 with wine – worth it to enjoy the work of these chefs in our community. Phone 310-545-7470 for reservations…

Happy AnniversaryAbigaile has become such a fixture on the local dining scene, it’s hard to remember that they’ve only been open for one year. To be precise, it’s one year as of next Tuesday, and they will be celebrating with a food and beer tasting. They will also be holding another of their Kitchen Takeover events on February 26th – no word yet on who the chefs will be, but both of the previous events featured celebrities of the kitchen who cooked up mind-blowing food and hung around to mingle afterward…

And Speaking of Hermosa… We expect to soon see the return of Steve Domingue, who has been running the Ragin Cajun food truck since the closure of his restaurant over two years ago. He will be back in Hermosa, though the location can’t yet be divulged; it’s an existing restaurant and can be turned around quickly, so the first plates of gumbolaya may be hitting tables in as little as a month. Steve will probably keep his food truck out on the streets, but will be personally in attendance at the reincarnation of his much missed restaurant without wheels…

And in Redondo… Another restaurant that opened somewhat after their advertised date is Pho Show, the latest Vietnamese restaurant in the area. The location between Good Stuff and Riviera Mexican can be hard to see thanks to the trees by the sidewalk, so many people drive by without noticing. Across the street is Beach Bowls, which specializes in smoothies and fruit plates made with acai, the berry-like fruit of the Brazilian palm. I know the stuff is supposed to be great for my health but haven’t developed a liking for the tart fruit so far – I will give it another chance, though.

The next big change in South Redondo is at the former Grillish, soon to become the Redondo Wine Bistro. Chef Rodrigo Hernandez, formerly of Mangiamo in Manhattan Beach, will be in charge of the kitchen, and Diego Leporini will manage the place. It’s a nice room in a good location – here’s hoping they have the balance right and can avoid the service problems that dogged the previous venture here…

Anyplace I should know about, any food events? Richard@richardfoss.com.

Related: Last year’s top new restaurants in the South Bay

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