Brunch at M.B. Post – Manhattan Beach

I have to admit that I am often disappointed with brunch.  I can think of way too many times that Brandon and I have been hurried into a busy dining room only to pay $20+ a plate for a dish I could have crafted more tastefully in my own kitchen.  This couldn’t be farther from the experience we had at M.B. Post in Manhattan Beach.

Even though M.B. Post has been open since 2011, there is still plenty of buzz that surrounds Chef David LeFevre and his cuisine.  Recently named to both Jonathan Gold’s Top 101 LA Restaurants and LA Magazine’s 75 Best Restaurants, you definitely will need a reservation to assure yourself a table without a wait.

We arrived a few minutes early for our 12:15 reservation and were seated right away at a pleasant table for two.  There is communal seating available so be aware that you may be seated close by other patrons. The atmosphere is lively yet relaxed.  Definitely a laid-back beach scene that pays tribute to the ocean, which is right across the street.

M.B. Post Brunch Menu
M.B. Post Brunch Menu

The drink menu offers a really nicely thought out wine and cocktail list.  While some of their cocktails looked outstanding, I opted for Red Car Rose of Pinot Noir and Brandon grabbed a craft beer.  We also got a glass of fresh squeezed OJ, which was delicious!

Sticky Bun
Sticky Bun

We started our meal with the sticky bun with pecans and brown sugar.  It was definitely sweet but really delicious.  I think it is a great dish to share with a group.

Belly Button Bagel
Belly Button Bagel

Our next dish was the “Belly Button Bagel” with in-house trout “lox,” dill cream cheese,  capers, and cucumber.  This was honestly one of the best versions I have ever had (and this is coming from a half-Jewish girl who has had her fair share of bagels and lox!).

Burrata and Red Pepper Sandwich
Burrata and Red Pepper Sandwich

For our next plate, we opted for another savory dish and split the burrata and roasted red pepper sandwich served on a homemade pretzel bun with green olive pesto and house chips.  We loved the way the flavors mingled together and the bun was outstanding.

French Toast
French Toast

Our last shared plate was the french toast stuffed with in-house ricotta, Murray Farms sweet cherries, and candied almonds.  The french toast was rich, moist, and delicious.  It was indulgent and a perfect way end our meal.

Another dish not to miss is the bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits.  We didn’t opt for them this time around but you would really be missing out if you didn’t try them.

All in all, this was a fantastic brunch experience.  If you want a delicious brunch with an ocean breeze, definitely stop by M.B. Post!

For more info, visit M.B Post.

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Three Twins Ice Cream Santa Monica

Just a quick note that Three Twins Ice Cream is now open in Santa Monica!  I first discovered Three Twins at Oxbow Market in Napa.  I am excited that now I don’t have to go very far to grab a scoop or two on a homemade waffle cone!  So, if you happen to be near Main Street in Santa Monica, stop in and grab a scoop.  I would suggest the Cookies and Cream, Mint Confetti, or Mocha Difference if you are a first timer!

Three Twins Main Street Storefront
Three Twins Main Street storefront
Great flavor selection!
Great flavor selection!
So many good things to choose from!
So many good things to choose from!
Three Twins Santa Monica
2726 Main St
Santa MonicaCA 90405

 

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Hermosa Beach Fish Shop does casual seafood right!

If you live by the beach in LA, chances are you often find yourself wanting a great meal but don’t want to change out of your shorts and flip-flops.  The newly opened Hermosa Beach Fish Shop is the perfect option whether you are looking for a casual lunch or a relaxing seafood dinner.

Hermosa Beach Fish Shop (or simply “The Fish Shop”) is a super cool restaurant concept that first launched San Diego in 2010.  The idea is simple…pick your fish, seasoning, and how you want it prepared (taco, plate, sandwich, or salad).  Brandon and I had the chance to visit this past Saturday and had a great experience. The atmosphere is laid-back, with both indoor and outdoor dining options.  There is plenty of parking as well, which is a major plus on Pier Avenue!

Hermosa Beach Fish Shop's menu
Hermosa Beach Fish Shop’s menu
Lots of fresh fish options!
Lots of fresh fish options!
Hermosa Beach Fish Shop has a nice patio for outdoor dining
Hermosa Beach Fish Shop has a nice patio for outdoor dining

We started off our lunch with a Sculpin’ IPA and Ballast Point Pale Ale.  They have a great selection of both bottled and draft beers along with several different wines by the glass and bottle.  They also have a $5 corkage fee, which is definitely one of the most reasonable in South Bay.

The beer list
The beer list
Our brews!
Our brews!

For our appetizer, we shared an order of Shrimp and Mahi Mahi Ceviche served with tortilla chips.  To be honest, I was really surprised at how good it was.  I have been to “fancier”, more expensive spots that don’t serve as near of a well-made ceviche.  This ceviche was delicious with the flavors of the fresh fish, citrus, and cilantro really shining through.  A perfect way to start a meal…especially at $8 for a small and $12 for a large order.

Tons of fresh fish, cilantro, and avocado in the ceviche
Tons of fresh fish, cilantro, and avocado in the ceviche

For our entrees, we tried Hermosa Beach Fish House’s tacos and the Fish Shop Shrimp.  The TKO Taco was delicious.  A generous portion of Mahi Mahi grilled perfectly, served in a corn tortilla, and topped with cabbage, house sauce, and tropical salsa.  The flavors were bright and fresh…I would order this again for sure!

The spread!
The spread!

The Fish Shop Shrimp is one of the house specialities.  The shrimp are caramelized in the Fish Shop seasoning and served with a cooling aioli dipping sauce.  We really enjoyed them but, beware, they definitely have a kick!

All in all, this is a great spot where you will find delicious, fresh seafood in a casual environment.  So feel free to come in off the beach, with your entire family, or on a casual date…you will definitely enjoy your meal!

Hermosa Beach Fish Shop
719 Pier Avenue,
Hermosa Beach, CA, 90254
(310) 372-3480  

  *Hosted meal

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La Dolce Vita Celebrates the Beverly Hills Centennial

Last night, I had the chance to visit La Dolce Vita in Beverly Hills and check out their cocktail menu.  The new menu includes “The 100”, a cocktail that commemorates the Beverly Hills Centennial.  This classic, Italian restaurant has quite a rich history in Beverly Hills.  Frank Sinatra was a regular along with President Ronald Reagan and Sammy Davis Jr.  It only seems fitting that they would partake in the city’s milestone celebration!

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“The 100” is a cocktail mixing Stolichnaya 100 Proof Vodka, lemon juice, and Prosecco.  The fresh flavors make it a great way to start a meal, especially during the warm months ahead.  A nice way to commemorate such an occasion for Beverly Hills.

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In addition the “The 100”, there were also a couple of other standouts on the cocktail list.  “The Rouge” features 1800 Silver Tequila, grapefruit, lime juice and Serrano pepper.  The spice from the Serrano is addicting and will keep you reaching for another sip.

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I also really enjoyed “The Paper Lion”.  Hendricks Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and fresh basil comprise this satisfying cocktail.

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If you want to join in on the centennial celebration for Beverly Hills, I would definitely stop into La Dolce Vita and check out “The 100” along with the rest of their cocktail creations and Italian cuisine.  A quintessential restaurant that has definitely made its mark on the rich history of Beverly Hills.

La Dolce Vita
9785 Santa Monica Boulevard
Beverly Hills, Ca 90210

*Hosted event

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“Taste Washington” at Noe in the Omni Los Angeles Hotel

Have you noticed some of the great wines coming out of Washington?  The region is definitely garnering some much-deserved attention lately.  So, when I was invited to try the “Taste Washington” wine and food pairing menu at Noe restaurant in the Omni Los Angeles Hotel, I excitedly accepted the invitation.

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Noe is located in the Omni Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, which sits atop beautiful Bunker Hill.  When my husband and I arrived, we were graciously welcomed and seated in their well-appointed dining room.  We started off the evening with a glass of Charles Smith Wines “Kung Fu Girl” Riesling from the Columbia Valley growing region.  A great choice for an aperitif, offering notes of white peach, melon, and citrus with noticeable acidity.

Chef Christopher Tunnell then arrived at our table with a beautiful cheese plate featuring local Washington cheese, fig jam, and honey.  One of the cheeses, “Sleeping Beauty” from Cascadia Creamery, really won me over.  Organic, smooth, creamy, and delicious.  Along with the Riesling, we were served a glass of Canoe Ridge “Expedition” Pinot Gris from the Horse Heaven Hills region.  Both wines paired nicely with the cheese and accompaniments.

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Next to arrive was a “Fennel and Apple Salad” with arugula, spiced pecans, blue cheese, and a cherry dressing. Simple, enjoyable flavors that paired well with the Pinot Gris.

Our third course of the evening was a “Dungeness Crab and Snap Pea Soup.”  The peas are shelled daily and you could really taste the purity of the fresh pea flavor in the soup.  The Dungeness was a delicious touch and this was easily our favorite dish of the evening.  Luckily enough, we were also brought our an alternative preparation of the soup as well.  Our second version was served chilled and it actually brought out the flavors in the soup even more.  I really hope they keep this on their menu for the summer!

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“Dungeness Crab Fritters” was the next plate to grace our table.  Crispy, crab-filled fritters served with a smoked tomato bacon sauce on the side.  I preferred them without the sauce and really enjoyed the fritters with our next wine, The House of Independent Producers Chardonnay.  The wine is unoaked so the authentic flavors of the Chardonnay really came through and elevated the taste of the fritters.

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Our entrée for the evening was “Cider Braised Beef” with celery root slaw, parsnips, and brussels sprouts. This dish fell a little short for me as it seemed to be a bit over-salted.  The beef, however, was tender and cooked well.

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We really enjoyed the thoughtful pairing of Nelms Road Cabernet poured with our entrée.  This sustainably made wine is balanced, fruit forward, and was a nice complement to the braised meat.

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To finish, we were presented a “Granny Apple Crisp” served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream.  A simple dish with a straight-forward preparation.  Definitely not innovative but the sweet, Washington apple flavor was a nice note to end on.

Overall, I am impressed with the spotlight that Noe and Omni Hotels & Resorts have put on Washington wine and food.  The “Taste Washington” menu will be featured in Omni Hotel restaurants across the country through May 31st, 2014, so definitely check it out for a taste of what the region has to offer!

Noe Restaurant Downtown Los Angeles – 251 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90012, (213) 356-4100

Omni “Taste Washington” program

*Hosted meal

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ROK Sushi Kitchen Spring Cocktail Preview

Just a few weeks under my belt as an “Angeleno” and I am already joining in on the wine and food community around me.  On Tuesday night, I was invited to preview the new spring cocktail menu at ROK Sushi Kitchen in Hermosa Beach.  ROK has been a staple in the Hermosa Beach community since 2010 but they are now under new management.  After trying out the new menu, it seems like they are really trying to elevate their cocktail program by bringing fresh new tastes to their menu!

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The new spring creations at Rok Sushi

We had the chance to sip 4 of ROK’s new offerings paired with some tasty apps.  We started off the night with a refreshing cocktail called the Bubbly Cali.  This creation consists of sparkling wine, Medlock Ames Verjus, gin, basil, and simple syrup.  It was a great way to kick off the evening and it paired really well with the fresh shrimp spring rolls we were served.

The second cocktail we tasted from the new menu was the Shishito Pepper Martini.  This cocktail featured shishito pepper infused vodka combined with shishito pepper simple syrup, Combier Orange Liqueur, and lime juice.  Light, not too spicy, and pretty creative.

Pouring the Shishito Pepper Martini
Pouring the Shishito Pepper Martini

Next up was an innovative take on the trendy Moscow Mule called the Tokyo Mule.  A blend of Tozai Typhoon Sake, house-made ginger simple syrup, Banzai Bunny Sake, and fresh ginger.  This was the stand-out of the night for me.  Not overly sweet and really aromatic.  I am pretty sure dinner guests at my house will be served one of these in the near future. 🙂

We wrapped up the night with ROK’s Floral Citrus cocktail.  A beautiful drink containing gin, Aperol, lemon juice, Combier Orange Liqueur, and violet liqueur.  This was a little on the flowery side for my taste buds but it was definitely a well-presented creation.

The beautiful presentation of the Floral Citrus cocktails
The beautiful presentation of the Floral Citrus cocktails

Overall, ROK Sushi Kitchen’s new spring cocktail list is a great showing of well-conceived cocktails that really pair well with Asian fare.  I am definitely going to stop back in to enjoy a Tokyo Mule in the near future!

ROK Sushi Kitchen

*Hosted event

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Pork Belly’s in Venice…Worth Every Messy Bite!

Do you dig barbecue?  If so, you have to head to Pork Belly’s in the heart of Venice on Abbot Kinney.  This isn’t some fancy, white table-cloth, wannabe BBQ joint.  As a matter of fact, it’s take out only sans the couple of chairless tables that line the sidewalk.  We were invited to eat there last week and were won over by their delicious sandwiches and indulgent side dishes.

The menu board
The menu board

Pork Belly’s clearly features pork (many of you guys might know Brandon and I skip meat) and everyone around me raved of the “The Belly Up” sandwich, which has generous slices of smoked, BBQ pork belly topped with coleslaw.  We opted for the “Kinney Joe”, which is a vegetarian version of a sloppy joe, and it was amazing!  It was oozing with flavor and didn’t leave us a chance to even miss the meat.

The "Kinney Joe"...I am craving this sandwich again just looking at it!
The “Kinney Joe”…I am craving this sandwich again just looking at it!

For our sides we chose fried pickles and sweet potato tots.  The pickles were salty and fried well.  The salt may overwhelm some customers but suit other customers’ taste buds perfectly.  The tots were also fried nicely and pretty darn tasty.  You can also opt for a version of chili cheese fries, which feature potato tots covered in cheese and your choice of brisket or sloppy joes.

So next time you are in Venice, swing on into Pork Belly’s for lunch or dinner. They are also open late (till 2 am on Friday and Saturday), and this would be the perfect food after a few alcoholic beverages.  No matter what time of day, it’s worth every messy bite!

http://www.porkbellysla.com/

*Hosted meal

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My Kind of Spot – The Tripel in Playa del Rey

I have been obsessed with Top Chef for years.  I watch it religiously and feel lucky I get to regularly seek out some of the chefs local to Southern California.  When I saw the co-owner and co-chef of The Tripel in Playa del Rey, Brooke Williamson, was on Top Chef this season, I was stoked.  Brandon and I stumbled upon her and her husband Nick Roberts’ bar Hudson House in Redondo Beach a couple of years ago and instantly fell in love with the atmosphere, food and wine.  This past weekend, Brandon and I took a drive north to see if The Tripel impressed us as much as Hudson House.

The Tripel...cozy, laid-back and delicious!
The Tripel…cozy, laid-back and delicious!

When we arrived around 1pm, we grabbed the last seats in the house.  I was immediately impressed by the wine list.  Concise yet strong with some great values from France, Italy and California.  I ordered an Alsatian blend from Kuentz-Bas and it was dry with citrus flavors…a great pick for $8.

Ordering up the Allagash Black and Bear Republic Hop Rod Red...great choices!
Ordering up the Allagash Black and Bear Republic Hop Rod Red…great choices!

The beer list was equally impressive.  There were 14 craft brews on draft from Victory, Bear Republic and many other great breweries with prices ranging from $5-9.  We ordered a couple of beers from the list, Allagash Black and Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye, which we have enjoyed many times before and definitely dug this time around.

We started off our meal with an order of sweet potato tots and they way over-delivered.  Perfectly fried, lightly dusted with sea salt and served with a delicious spiced aioli and horseradish honey mustard.  For our main courses, we ordered the charred baby octopus with black coconut rice, jalapeno and saffron along with steamed mussels and clams with a Serrano pesto broth and grilled bread.  The mussels and clams were delicious…I could drink the broth and I practically (and by practically I mean actually) did.  The octopus dish was the only letdown.  While the octopus was perfectly cooked, I felt that the dish was a little rich and could use something to give it a lift.  The bites with the jalapeno definitely helped but the saffron sauce still overpowered the delicate flavor of the octopus. 

Mussels and clams...amazing flavors!
Mussels and clams…amazing flavors!
Charred baby octopus…not as impressed with this dish or the presentation.

All in all, our experience was a memorable one…we will even be returning in the next week or so to bring some of our food and beer/wine loving friends.  The Tripel is the kind of place I would open if I were lucky enough to ever have my own spot.  Unpretentious and comfortable with darn good food and libations!

www.TheTripel.com

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A Taste of Napa in OC- The Cellar San Clemente

Orange County…home to perfect weather, beautiful beaches, an overabundance of plastic surgery, and a lack of good wine bars. This is why I was so excited to find The Cellar in San Clemente. I have been going there for several months now and each time I find something unique or delicious to indulge in.

 

The Cellar has a wonderful cheese shop as soon as you walk in.  They have a broad selection of cheeses from all over the world (including cheese from Cowgirl Creamery…my favorite) along with honey, charcuterie, and jams.  Heaven if you are a cheese lover and hard to find anywhere else if you are in South OC.  There is also a small selection of wines for sale at competitive prices.

The wine bar itself is rustic and sophisticated yet laid back.  I usually stop over in the evenings when there is often live music but today I came in for a relaxing, Sunday lunch. The Cellar has a nice selection of wines by the glass (54 options today), with many coming from California.  They also offer wine flights and a large craft beer list.  It is hard to find a place nearby with this diverse of a selection. 

Today I ordered their cheese, honey, and almond sandwich.  The sandwich was served on a fresh, toasted baguette with D’affinois cheese from France, Marcona almonds, and raw, organic honey.  The waiter suggested a glass of Deep Sea 2008 Viognier and it paired nicely with the sandwich. (review to follow)  It was a wonderful lunch enjoyed on their patio in downtown San Clemente. 

I feel like I get a small piece of Napa when I come to The Cellar.  Unpretentious (none of that wine snobbery nonsense), fresh, comforting foods (you should try their lobster mac and cheese), and an abundance of CA wines…if you are anywhere close to San Clemente you should stop in.  I assure you that you will thank me later.

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A Great Way to Beat LA Traffic- Border Grill Santa Monica

The only thing good about LA traffic are the places you have to choose from while you are waiting it out.  Today my husband and I were working in Santa Monica and decided to head to Border Grill to let the madness on the 405 die down.  Border Grill is an amazing Mexican restaurant founded by Top Chef Masters Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger.  The place is an urban-styled cantina with a laid back yet trendy atmosphere.  We arrived at happy hour so we decided to indulge in the low prices and enjoy the evening.  We started with their famous margaritas, on the rocks with salt.  Now I have had some great margaritas in Southern California and Border Grill’s is definitely in the top 5.  Not too sweet with just enough tequila to remind you that they could get you tipsy quickly.   Border Grill also has an extensive tequila list if you want to try something unique or sippable.

After relaxing and enjoying our drinks for a few, we ordered the guacamole.  The guacamole was prepared nicely.  The avocados were perfectly ripened and there was just enough cilantro and jalapenos to give it character.  The chips were a little thick and crunchy for my taste (I prefer the thinner tortillas) and I always feel this can overpower the guacamole or salsa that is being served with the chips. 

Next we ordered the green corn tamales (at the recommendation of our friendly server Amelia).  The tamales were highlight of the entire meal.  They were beautifully made and the sweet corn in the tamales was mouth-watering.  They were served with a side of salsa and sour cream but I honestly thought the sides were a distraction and took away from the delicate flavors in the tamales. 

For our entrees, we ordered a variety of Border Tacos including the lamb, fish, potato, and avocado.  Each tortilla was handmade and the flavors were fresh and unique.  The potato taco was the stand out among them.  The tortilla was crispy and the potatoes were perfectly cooked with a corn relish, Mexican cheeses, and a chipotle crema. 

Overall, I have to say that Border Grill is one of the better Mexican cantinas in LA.  I love the way that Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger have interpreted Mexican food and I hope to be “stuck” in Santa Monica at rush hour again to enjoy their fresh and flavorful Mexican dishes.

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