The Strand House: Culinary Masters Series
117 Manhattan Beach Blvd
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dining date: 5/20/13
Considering he spent the past 12 years at The French Laundry (the last 3+ years as Chef de Cuisine), represented America in the Bocuse d’Or (placing sixth in 2009, the best American placement to date), and won the James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef in 2010, there are few chefs as young as Timothy Hollingsworth with such a strong resume.
On the heels of Douglas Keane’s (Cyrus) dinner at The Strand House, Hollingsworth was the next guest of the monthly Culinary Masters Series. Having just recently moved to Los Angeles, Hollingsworth will act as a consulting chef on The Strand House and sister properties (The Zislis Group) while figuring out what his own concept will be.
Being a huge fan of The French Laundry, I was excited to be a part of Hollingsworth’s first post-TFL meal. I wasn’t the only one; the dinner sold out in just a few hours – we were lucky to be one of the first ones off the waiting list. The menu was five courses, inclusive of wine pairing by B Wise Vineyard, for $200. A brief look around the dining room clearly indicated that plenty of wine would be served this evening – a solid indicator of a good evening ahead.
A handful of appetizers were served throughout the pre-dinner cocktail hour. A kanpachi tartare, cucumber soup and spiced falafel (pictured) were the ones I came across. Guests were able to enjoy the sunset at the restaurant’s Strand Bar, which offers amazing views.
The meal began with creamy avocado and a bright sea urchin flavor, topped with caviar. The individual ingredients each shined, amidst an unexpected alcoholic bite from the sake.
Sautéed New Bedford Scallops Dungeness crab, hearts of romaine, English peas, summer truffles
2011 B Wise Pinot Noir, Sonoma Valley
This was maybe my favorite dish of the evening. The crab and scallop were each delicious on their own, but the English pea puree almost stole the show with a mellowed sweetness and earthiness that really went well with the seafood. The truffle flavor was pretty subdued, but that didn’t take away from the overall dish.
Peking Duck Belgium endive, pickled cherries, tobacco scented chocolate emulsion
2010 B Wise Syrah, Sonoma Valley
The duck came out a nice medium-rare, juicy and tender with a crispy skin. The chocolate added plenty of depth to the overall flavors at play, balanced by some tart cherries and candied orange rind. I’m not sure I got the Peking duck reference, but this was tasty.
Grilled Cap of Beef Ribeye sweet corn, porcini mushrooms, tarragon, pickled shallot vinaigrette
2008 Brion Napa Cabernet, Sonoma Valley
The last savory dish featured a strip of ribeye cap (is it just me, or is this cut really growing in popularity/awareness recently?). It was an excellent piece of meat, and I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet corn and crisp green beans that went along with it. A shallot and mushroom sauce added the bulk of rich flavor.
Vanilla Scented Yogurt caramelized peaches, English thyme, pink peppercorn streusel
NV Chandon ‘Etoile’ brut, Sonoma/Napa
The lone dessert featured this yogurt, which wasn’t very tart (which I definitely preferred). The sweet peaches were delicious, complemented by a lot of thyme, while the streusel added a crunchy texture. Simple and light.
Hollingsworth’s cooking showed off the highly-seasonal, flawlessly-executed style that I expected. I know I’m not alone when I say I’m curious to see what other projects Hollingsworth pursues; a casual Mexican restaurant is something that’s been thrown out there, clearly a departure from what he’s been doing the past 12 years. However, if this meal was a taste of something to come, I’m definitely looking forward to it.