Richard Foss

Restaurant happenings in Hermosa, Redondo, and Manhattan Beach

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Chef Melba’s is now open for lunch. Photo by Chelsea Sektnan

Chef Melba’s is now open for lunch. Photo by Chelsea Sektnan

Some Action in Hermosa…After several months in which most openings have been in Manhattan and Redondo, Hermosa is getting some new restaurants. The former Hibachi has been purchased by the owners of Rok Sushi next door, and word is that they will offer Spanish food and charcuterie. It’s possible to get a sneak preview of the new place, since Chef Perfecto Rocher has been trying out his menu at Rok, making it LA’s only establishment where you can get sushi and paella under the same roof. Rocher has been associated with several high-end places around LA in the last few years, including the critically acclaimed Lazy Ox, and anything he does here may be expected to get lots of attention from on the regional dining scene…

Elsewhere, the space at 425 Pier, formerly part of Buona Vita, will be a “Farm-to-Table, Ocean-to-Plate” restaurant run by four South Bay locals. It will be interesting to see what they do with this beautiful space – its finest hour so far was when this was Ajeti’s, the only Albanian restaurant in Southern California, a fantasyland of glass and ornate woodwork. Watch for an opening sometime this summer…

Elsewhere in Hermosa, Chef Melba’s has a new executive chef, Alfredo Amado, and has opened for lunch on weekdays. Like owner Melba Rodriguez, Amado is an alumnus of McCormick & Schmick’s, and has the skill at seafood to create Melba’s ambitious ideas. Melba’s is sometimes overlooked because of its location at the north end of Downtown, and they must hope that opening for lunch at the beginning of summer will focus more attention on a worthy place…

Meanwhile, there is puzzlement over the pending union of Suzy’s and the Ragin Cajun. Though it was announced weeks ago that they would start serving Louisiana’s best on weekends it’s not happening yet, and the management has declined to provide any timetable. Any reappearance of Stephen’s restaurant will be welcomed by the many fans of his cooking, so we’re waiting with some impatience…

Hermosa Cake & Pie Company has opened on Hermosa Avenue, near Mickey's. Photo by Chelsea Sekthan

Hermosa Cake & Pie Company has opened on Hermosa Avenue, near Mickey’s. Photo by Chelsea Sekthan

And A Sweet Hermosa Opening… The Hermosa Cake & Pie Company is finally open, a tiny storefront on the same block as Mickey’s Deli. Owner David Wallace trained in France and uses classic techniques, so this little place may come to be a big thing for those who enjoy their desserts…

And Expanding From Hermosa… The team behind Rockefeller has purchased the former Mr. Cecil’s on Highland in Manhattan Beach, reportedly to create another Rockefeller. It’s a sound idea – the closest equivalent in Downtown Manhattan is probably Simmzy’s, which has lines out the door almost any time they’re open. While Hermosa is over-burgered, Manhattan has a dearth of places that deal in gourmet sandwiches, so it could be a fine fit. Around the corner and down the hill, fellow Hermosa transplant Little Sister should be opening next week in the former Hamptons space. Not that anybody would recognize it – Little Sister’s décor is simultaneously rustic and industrial, a far cry from Hamptons’ beach house look. The food will be modern and seasonal variations on Southeast Asian cuisine, a market they’ll have to themselves in Manhattan Beach….

Speaking Of French Delicacies… Dominique’s Kitchen will be hosting a wine dinner on July 15 featuring winemaker Steve Arrowood, who lives in Palos Verdes but makes his Montemar wines on the Central Coast. The five course meal with wine includes seafood risotto and rack of lamb, quite a deal for $84.50 including tax and tip. Reserve soon, because this one will sell out – phone number is 424-247-9054…

And A Classic Bows And Exits… Down the road a bit from Dominique’s, another French classic prepares to depart. After two decades in business, Aimee’s will be closing, to be replaced by a gastropub owned by Eat At Joe’s owner Alex Jordan and partners. Aimee Mizrahi will still be there through early August, and hopes some of her longtime customers will stop by to raise a glass and fork with her…

Elsewhere in Redondo, after many months of signs announcing that the Local Café will be opening soon, it seems actually about to open. Their plans are to serve lunch and dinner only, either to go or be eaten on their patio since they don’t have an indoor dining room. That may sound like an odd business strategy, but it has worked fine for the nearby Standing Room, so there is obviously some life in the concept. Watch for an opening this week…

Another Opening Delayed… When Barney’s Beanery announced that they were going into the former Breakwall and Kilkenny’s space, they confidently set a spring 2013 opening date. Spring has sprung and nothing has happened, and the latest estimate has them opening sometime this fall. With the vast Maison Riz space still shuttered and no plans announced for it, this leaves the main entrance of the pier to seafood shacks, a bar, and a Korean fish restaurant, with only Old Tony’s and El Torito offering a mainstream sit-down dining. Those restaurants will probably do great business this summer thanks to the lack of competition – but then again both have survived many competitors, so they must be doing something right…

And More Construction Blues… The Redondo Wine Bistro planned to have their upstairs wine bar open by now, but the first sip won’t be poured there for another few weeks. That space won’t serve meals, just wine, charcuterie, and snacks – you’ll have to go downstairs for anything substantial. If you do you will see that the menu has changed – new chef Benjamin Udave, formerly of Red Pearl Kitchen, Perch, and the Jonathan Club, is putting his own spin on things. The bistro is also now open for lunch, and added some burgers and other light items for midday diners…

And Another Chef Moved In… The Manhattan Beach Marriott’s restaurant has a beautiful view of the golf course, but until recently the food has been on the dull side. New executive chef Charlie Gold is changing things, and now seabass with warm artichoke and olive couscous and other more interesting items are on the menu. It looks like a positive change for a place that needed a wake-up call…

Any openings I should know about, any wine dinners or other food events? I’m at Richard@richardfoss.com