Richard Foss

Shake Shack debuts, Rive Gauche closes, Wine Dinner in a Magical Setting, and More Dining News

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Dining news for 09 November

A cult favorite arrives… California burgerphiles celebrate In & Out’s offerings, Texans cherish their Whataburgers, and other regional chains have their passionate supporters. South Bay locals may now make comparisons with New York’s entry in the burger cult sweepstakes — Shake Shack recently opened on Rosecrans. For those who don’t know about this chain, the first one opened in Central Park in 2004, and growth has been explosive – this one is the 136th outlet. They’re specialists here, so if you don’t want a burger, hot dog, shake, or chicken sandwich you’re in the wrong building. They offer a cheese and mushroom sandwich and ice cream in the expected two flavors, vanilla and chocolate, plus frozen custard, but that’s it for vegetarians. When I drove by yesterday business was booming, so it looks like the business park location was a good idea (2171 Rosecrans, ES)…

Some closures… One of the oldest restaurants in the South Bay has called it quits. La Rive Gauche opened in 1973 and was a showplace in its day. Some fine chefs and servers passed through this place over the years, and its end closes a chapter in the history of dining on the Peninsula… Frozen custard apparently wasn’t a big enough draw to keep Rita’s Italian Ice open in Redondo. It closed in late October. The notice on the door implied they might reopen, though the eviction notice on the door suggests that if so it will be at another location… Great Maple in the Del Amo Mall also called it quits. They never got as popular as the neighboring establishments, and the kitchen had trouble turning out consistent meals. Another closure in El Segundo is also not surprising: despite serving above-average Mexican food in nice surroundings, La Sirena has closed. The restaurant in the furthest corner of Plaza El Segundo had been struggling for some time in a low-profile location, and finally quit at the end of last month. It’s a sad end for a place that opened with considerable ambitions but never found a following…   

Unusual concept replaced by the same unusual concept?… The My Fit Foods on PCH in Hermosa Beach closed in February, along with other stores in this Texas-based chain. The concept of grab and go food for the health conscious is still alive, and the new occupant of the space has the same business strategy.  Eat Fit Go offers a variety of ready to eat meals with the calories, proteins, carbs, fats, and sodium clearly labeled, which is handy for those on restricted diets. There are two tables for those who can’t wait to dig in, but as the store’s name suggests the majority of their business is take-out. Based on the number of workout gyms and Pilates studios within a mile radius, it’s probably a safe bet (1025 PCH, Hermosa)…

Wine, not just for laughs…  I have attended a few events run by Gourmet Wine Getaways, and though wine expert Peter Kerr is an engaging presenter he’s not usually noted for jokes or feats of prestidigitation. He may expand his repertoire for his upcoming wine dinner at Live at the Lounge, next door to the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa on November 29. The dinner will feature wines from Buttonwood of Santa Ynez paired with five courses for only $75 including tax & tip. (And thank you from the bottom of my heart for advertising this event with everything included, because when that is not done some people always miss the fine print and get sticker shock when their card is charged.) You can see the whole menu and reserve by clicking the calendar at comedyandmagicclub.com. And hey Peter, if you want help with pulling a rabbit holding a wine bottle out of a hat, I know a magician who may be able to help you with the trick…

The news equivalent of hors d’oeuvres… Wildflour Pizza on PCH, at Artesia Blvd., in Hermosa Beach, a local favorite for what seems like eons, has changed ownership and will soon be Fabio’s. No word on whether they’ll continue making the Boston-style thick crust pizza that has been their mainstay, or their amazing spinach salad. Changes are in progress elsewhere because several local restaurants have received huge rent increases that spell doom for modestly priced places. They have to find a way to become much more profitable or sell. When budget places try to go upscale it angers longtime customers, putting them in a difficult position. That’s the economics of the business, and unless there’s a major downturn in the local real estate market, which nobody wants or expects, it’s the wave of the future…

Any upcoming openings, any food events I should know about, any other magical wine experiences? I’m at Richard@richardfoss.com… ER  

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