Several of my friends are in the food or restaurant business, so when one of them suggests a place they love, I listen and will join them for a meal that I know will be (usually) very good on all levels, from chef skill, to products used, to recipes, to service and decor. Baran’s 2239 in Hermosa Beach is the kind of neighborhood gem that every neighborhood wishes inhabited their backyard.

With a tiny parking lot, you best bet is to park a block or two away and give yourself a reason to walk off dinner; or better yet take a car service and enjoy your wine with dinner ($25 corkage for 1st bottle). We brought a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a Gainey Pinot Noir for four of us, so we each had two glasses with our meal and enjoyed the lighter wine with the lighter dishes.

We started with the beef tartare, served with shrimp chips and korean spices. It was a hit with the raw meat lovers like myself, but not so much for the non devotees of uncooked red meat.

The quail with white beans, nuts, chives, and citrus was a delightful choice for everyone. The contrasts in textures and flavors worked well together to bring everyone joy in their mouth:)

The Pork Belly made us all applaud and fight for every bite as we sought to eat just one more morsel of porcine goodness.

To balance out some of the protein we also got the grilled broccolini with pomegranate seeds and a nice bean purée.

Since we were all food lovers, we ordered more dishes as we finished one, so the next up were the seared sea scallops, easily the favorite of the evening, and the waiter graciously offered to add one more scallop for our table of four so we could all eat one 🙂

The fried chicken was an interesting take that was different enough for us to enjoy, while comforting enough for all to say “ah!”

We weren’t sure if we wanted to try the jerk extra spicy wings after the guy at the table next to use said he loved spice, but was in pain after one bite. We literally watched his face turn beet red and two of us decided at the end of the night to take the chance. It was searingly spicy, but edible. The disappointment was that the heat lacked complexity or depth of flavor. We felt that if we were going to endure the heat, there should’ve been more spice or oomph. We would probably never order this again, but we were very glad we tried it.

In spite of the disappointing last dish, I loved everything else, especially the cozy local vibe and the obviously very local clientele. I would come back here anytime with a few friends so we could share a few plates. We ate 8 plates in all (we doubled up on one of the ones pictured) and with the corkage fee on 2 bottles it came to around $75 per person, including tax and a 20% tip, a great deal on this level of service, skill, and ingredients.