Charles Phan @ M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

Charles Phan (The Slanted Door)
M.B. Post

1142 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dining date: 8/12/13

Manhattan Beach Post (M.B. Post) has been a hot spot in the area since opening over two years ago (helping to spawn another restaurant, Fishing with Dynamite, earlier this year). Chef David LeFevre hosts a recurring guest chef series called “Can You Dig It?” that benefits partner charity Common Threads. For this iteration, he teamed up with chef Charles Phan of San Francisco’s The Slanted Door.

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Charles Phan is one of the old school notable Asian chefs in America; he’s best known for his flagship modern Vietnamese restaurant, The Slanted Door, which opened in the mid-1990s. His mini-empire now spans 7 restaurants in the San Francisco area. I don’t think he can be found in The Slanted Door kitchen as much nowadays, so this was an opportune chance to sample some of his cooking straight from the source. Chef LeFevre’s food has a lot of Asian influences and I was curious to see if he could adapt his cuisine to seamlessly fit in with Phan’s.

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The menu for this evening was a collaborative effort, with 5 dishes being prepared by Phan and 3 by LeFevre for $75. Phan brought a couple of notable The Slanted Door plates as well as a few new ones. As far as I know, LeFevre’s dishes were making their first appearance here at M.B. Post.

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Timothy Hollingsworth @ The Strand House (Manhattan Beach, CA)

Timothy Hollingsworth
The Strand House: Culinary Masters Series
117 Manhattan Beach Blvd
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dining date: 5/20/13

8773364573 7e68c37fc0 Timothy Hollingsworth @ The Strand House (Manhattan Beach, CA)

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.

8773444303 770472a9aa Timothy Hollingsworth @ The Strand House (Manhattan Beach, CA)

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M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA) (2)

Can You Dig It?
Manhattan Beach Post (M.B. Post)

1142 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dining date: 7/16/11

M.B. Post chef David LeFevre turned 40 earlier this month. To celebrate, he organized a dinner at his restaurant this past Monday featuring a rather strong cast of chefs from around LA. Animal, Mozza, Sotto, and Rustic Canyon/Milo&Olive/Huckleberry are some of the more popular restaurants in the city, and they’d all be represented in this meal. Each chef (or chef team) teamed up for a course to bring together this 5-courser. Proceeds went to benefit Common Threads.

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While our party originally had a reservation to Angelini Osteria’s iteration of the 5×5 Collaborative Dinner (featuring guest chef Michael Tusk of Quince/Cotogna), we opted to make the trip to Manhattan Beach. It was my third trip to the restaurant (I’ve been once for dinner and once for brunch and enjoyed both).

bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits, maple butter

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It wouldn’t be a celebration without M.B. Post’s ever-popular bacon cheddar biscuits. Given it was the first time at M.B. Post for the rest of our party, I was slightly worried I’d talked them up too much. No worries here. Everyone loved the warm smoky, cheesy biscuits as much as I did. And the maple butter is ridiculous. Can’t go wrong with these guys.

gem lettuce, pickled beets, bread crumbs, green garlic crème fraiche - Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo (Animal, Son of a Gun)

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This dish was a little bit of a departure from some of the heavier dishes the Animal guys seem to be known for. Crisp lettuce and sweet beets were complemented by some crispy breadcrumbs and fennel fronds; I found the clumps of creme fraiche to be too unevenly distributed though.

hamachi grilled over white oak with tomatoes and bitter greens pesto - David LeFevre (M.B. Post)

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The hamachi was cooked beautifully; it was a bit of a denser fish yet still pretty juicy. Grapes, tomatoes and bell peppers provided a sweet flavor dynamic to counteract the bitter greens pesto. Waxy green beans topped it all off. This might’ve been my favorite dish of the night.

orecchiette with sausage & swiss chard - Matt Molina (Mozza)

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I had high hopes for this one given that I enjoy Osteria Mozza’s pastas. The housemade orecchiette was quite chewy, smothered in a hearty sausage ragu. The salt and spice were slightly heavy-handed, though I liked the breadcrumbs.

beef short rib alla vaccinara, bitter chocolate agrodolce, semolina gnocco - Steve Samson & Zach Pollack (Sotto)

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This dish was originally to feature veal cheek, then beef cheek and finally a late-game change brought short ribs to the plate. I would’ve loved to have had the cheek, but found this short rib to be very well done. It tore apart easily, and was so tender and flavorful, pairing with the rich sauce (though I didn’t get so much of the sweet-sour flavor combination). The gnocco was a fun addition too, being a sort of crushed, creamy version of gnocchi. A little bit of what I thought was shaved celery was a nice touch too, adding a fresh crispness.

fresh corn cake with sweet rose creamery corn ice cream and strawberry rhubarb compote - Zoe Nathan (Rustic Canyon, Huckleberry, Sweet Rose Creamery, Milo & Olive)

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I had heard about this dish (or something similar) at Rustic Canyon and was eager to try it here. The cake was moist, light and sweet from the corn. Nice. The strawberry rhubarb compote was really good too, as was the corn ice cream. This may have been the best dish of the night too..

assorted cookies and pastries served with spiked milk

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A serious bounty of sweets came last, presumably from Huckleberry. If that wasn’t enough, it was paired with a glass of spiced, spiked milk. I was pretty impressed with these sample-size treats which included lemon bars, macaroons, homemade twix, chocolate cupcakes, sugar cookies, and whole wheat chocolate chip cookies.

I thought this meal was good, though it had its up and downs. I always like dinners like these where notable chefs come together for one meal. My favorites were the biscuits, hamachi, short rib and corn cake. I will be back to M.B. Post; I’ve been craving a proper dinner visit.

Brunch @ M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

Manhattan Beach Post (M.B. Post)
1142 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dining date: 1/7/12

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I visited M.B Post in May of last year and walked away both completely stuffed and impressed. Since then, chef/owner David LeFevre has racked up the accolades, being one of LA Times critic S. Irene Virbila’s best meals of 2011 and seemingly on everyone’s “best new restaurants” list for 2011. And, the restaurant’s bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits have become somewhat of an L.A. phenomenon, a must-order for sure.

I’ve wanted to return but scheduling and lack of proximity have kept me away. However, this past weekend the restaurant launched brunch service – a perfect reason to pay a visit.

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The menu is fairly brief with a number of fresh baked breads/sweets, a few meat/potato side dishes and around nine more substantial composed plates. Similar to dinner service, the full wine/beer list is available as well as a selection of cocktails. Being a little under the weather, I passed on any alcohol but Wes did order this Asian-inspired mojito.

Mo-Pho-Jito mojito with starr rum, kaffir lime, mint, ginger, coriander honey

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Sticky Buns pecan and brown sugar

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While pondering what to order, I saw one of these go to another table. I had to get one. Coming out on a still-hot cast iron skillet, it was quite the sight, especially with the rich sugary glaze dripping and pooling at the bottom. The dough was soft and pillowy, while the pecans added crunch to these sweet bites. Quite delish!

Benedict bacon cheddar biscuit, arugula, la quercia prosciutto, hollandaise

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The much-talked-about bacon cheddar biscuits were the base of this benedict. Slivers of proscuitto and arugula topped the biscuit, as well as a soft-poached egg and hollandaise sauce. I liked the combination of flavors, with the arugula standing up to the bacon and prosciutto, and the rich runny egg yolk adding a rich creaminess to the dish.

Nueske’s Bacon rosemary, brown sugar, chili

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The brown sugar lended a maple-y sweetness to the bacon while some fresh rosemary brightened things up a bit. For me, not as memorable as the other plates we tried.

Weiser Farm Fingerling Potatoes lemon buttermilk ranch

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Fingerling potatoes were prepared “French fry” style with fresh herbs and garlic. These were fried to a crisp, and I thought the herb flavor definitely came through (aided by herbs and garlic being fried in the oil with the potatoes, as well as a dash after cooking). It came with a zesty citrus dipping sauce.

Truffle Honey Laced Fried Chicken kohlrabi slaw

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This all-white-meat serving was surprisingly moist and juicy. It was elevated by the honey glaze (reminded me of honey’s kettle) with a subtle truffle essence. The sweetness and the earthy truffle flavor were an ideal accompaniment to the crusty fried chicken. Nicely done.

Fritatta weiser farm potatoes, sprouting broccoli, white cheddar, piperade

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A kitchen favorite; the scrambled egg, potatoes and cheese combined to make a very filling dish that would be great for absorbing all the alcohol from the night prior. Rich and hearty, the peppers and tomatoes of the piperade added a lot of the depth of flavor.

Similar to my previous visit, M.B. Post delivered with its version of elevated comfort food; it was one of the better brunches I’ve had in some time. While the food isn’t as refined as what he was doing at Water Grill, LeFevre’s cooking is now an entirely different beast showing a lot of thought and full of varied flavors; it’s both interesting yet comforting at the same time. This meal confirmed my belief that it’s one of the top restaurant openings in LA last year. Selfishly, I just wish it was closer to where I live/work, but I’m glad the South Bay has something like this. Judging by the crowds, I’m sure they’re glad too.

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M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

Manhattan Beach Post (M.B. Post)
1142 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dining date: 5/19/11

mb post exterior M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

M.B. Post opened one month ago, one of the more highly publicized restaurant openings in the Beach Cities area. The chef is David LeFevre, formerly of the one Michelin-starred Water Grill downtown. The concept here is very different; instead of the super-refined, seafood-centric fare of Water Grill, the menu here is more comfortable and balanced, showcasing seasonal ingredients and bold flavors in a “social house” atmosphere. The GM put it well, saying “David finally gets to cook what he likes to eat.” Clearly he’s on to something; this place was packed on a Wednesday night.

I had been interested in trying this place since it opened; however had not made it out to Manhattan Beach area yet. When I was invited to come take the menu for a spin, it was the “gentle nudge” I needed.

We opted to allow Chef LeFevre full rein to choose some dishes for us. Meanwhile, we started with two cocktails.

Sun Also Rises blood & sand w/ compass box oak cross, rhubarb, blood orange

mb post blister in the sun M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

This cocktail had citrus notes up front, while the scotch was more noticeable on the finish.

Mo-Pho-Jito mojito w/ starr, kaffir lime, mint, ginger, coriander honey

mb post mo pho jito 224x335 M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

I thought this sounded too interesting not to try. It was pretty much like a mojito, but with Asian accents from ginger and coriander. Pretty good. I’m just glad there wasn’t any raw beef involved.

Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits maple butter
Fleur De Sel Pretzel horseradish mustard
Grilled Naan Flatbread harissa yogurt

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mb post bread2 M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

Next up were a trio of breads with their own spread. All three of these were tasty, served warm, with the biscuits probably being my favorite. Bacon and cheddar flavors permeated the dough, which was moist and fluffy. The maple butter presented a delightful sweet counterpoint. I wish I could somehow get this for breakfast.

Charcuterie and Cheese: Jamon Serrano, La Quercia Organic Prosciutto, Weybridge (cow), Mycella Blue (cow), Assorted Pickles, Marinated Olives, Honey Selection

mb post charcuterie M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

mb post honey M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

A large assortment of cured meats, cheese and accompaniments was served next. A little bit overkill for a party of two, I was glad to be able to try a selection of things. I liked both the serrano ham and the prosciutto, while the cheeses were complemented by a really impressive array of honeys. I don’t remember what all of them were, but they each had a distinctive flavor and sweetness – really cool.

Dirge: Corpse Reviver corpse reviver w/old raj, lillet, lemon, absinthe

mb post corpse reviver M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

This cocktail had citrus overtones from the lemon, mellowing out the gin, with just a touch of licorice flavor from the absinthe.

Grilled Yellow Peach with Rocket Greens whipped ricotta, candied walnuts

mb post peach M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

This dish screamed ‘summer,’ centered around a sweet yellow peach. The grilling really brought out the sweetness, which was countered by the bitter arugula. Whipped ricotta added some richness to the dish, while walnuts provided the crunch.

Salt Roasted Baby Beets drake family farms chevre, pistachio & beet green pesto

mb post beets M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

The beets were surprisingly sweet, really refreshing. I liked the pesto as well, adding a bright vibrant flavor, while the pistachios added some texture.

Steamed Mussels green curry, Vietnamese sausage, sticky rice

mb post mussels M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

This was one of our most highly anticipated items and it did not disappoint. The plump mussels were cooked well, accented by a light and milky thai curry. Some sausage added salt and meatiness, while the sticky rice was very good.

Alaskan Halibut sautéed with basil, kalamata olive and early summer vinaigrette

mb post halibut2 M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

The halibut was beautifully prepared with a crispy sear and moist flaky interior. Some summer vegetables were a nice accompaniment, while the vinaigrette provided just enough acidity.

Vietnamese Caramel Pork Jowl green papaya salad, lime

mb post pork jowl M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

We’d probably had enough food at this point, but it was on to the richer meat courses. I can’t remember the last time I had pork jowl (cheek), but it had a rich fattiness like pork belly. I found the pork to be a little bit too sweet for me (especially with the richness of the fat), though the green papaya salad did help to cut through much of that.

Myers Farm “Never Ever” Skirt Steak grilled ramps, red chimichurri

mb post skirt steak M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

Hard to go wrong with a nicely cooked skirt steak. The grilling imbued a strong smokiness to this tender cut, while I appreciated the chimichurri for adding an extra flavor profile.

Blistering Green Beans thai basil, chili sauce, crispy pork

mb post green beans M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

As a side, we had some green beans which brought with them quite a bit of heat, balanced by some radishes. The crispy pork was a nice touch.

Three Point Tart macerated strawberries & rhubarb, buttermilk panna cotta

mb post three point tart M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

Here we had a light pastry filled with a sweet fruit. To balance this out, the slightly tart buttermilk panna cotta was smooth and rich, quite tasty.

Chocolate Cherry Pudding Cake black cherry granité, vanilla crème fraiche

mb post choc cake M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

I thought this was a pretty solid chocolate cake. Not particularly memorable (there are so many chocolate cake variations out there now), but executed well. The tartness of the cherry granité nicely balanced the sweetness of the chocolate and vanilla.

Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake stewed apricots, cornmeal streusel, marcona almonds

mb post lemon ricotta cheesecake M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

I enjoyed this cheesecake; the lemon was the standout ingredient for me here. I liked the streusel and almonds as well, adding some sweetness and texture. The apricots were a nice touch.

This was a very good meal (and large; I think we easily had enough food for four). The menu has a lot of options and it was all done pretty well, from the bread to dessert. Whereas some of Water Grill’s cuisine can seem inaccessible or stuffy for some, MB Post prepared plates filled with familiar, yet engaging flavors – exactly what I think LeFevre was aiming for. I could see why this place was so popular, and I expect MB Post to continue to be a hot spot for both good food and drink.

Note: This was a sponsored meal.