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Talented people may begin working for other people, but most yearn to strike out on their own and create unfettered art, whether their art is hung in galleries, or presented on plates. Some are not good at business and do not work with people who are adept at the skills required, so they end up back where they started, but others soar to new heights as they flex their creative muscles.

Fishing With Dynamite is a small restaurant in Manhattan Beach, the seafood outpost next door to MB Post, both owned by renowned chef David LeFevre. Reservations for the 35 seat space are hard to get, so book your seat at least a week in advance, especially if you want to eat during prime dining hours. It’s worth the trouble; trust me:) I went twice in two weeks during DineLA week because their $25 lunch menu was too good not to repeat (prices noted below are the regular menu prices).

The rockfish and shrimp ceviche, with persimmon, radish, serrano, cilantro, avocado, and lime for $12 was as wonderful to eat as it was to behold. The textures and flavors belied the quality and freshness of the ingredients, and two orders would have made a very nice light meal.

Another appetizer was the hamachi, served with ponzu, avocado (hidden underneath the hamachi), radish, serrano and shiso for $18. If you are craving sashimi, this is a dressed up version.

When I saw the Shrimp Po Boy for $14 delivered to the table next to me, I had to order it on one of my visits. It comes LOADED with crunchy shrimp, weiser potato chips, and topped with a cajun remoulade on a buttered and toasted brioche bun. There was no way to hold this, even with two hands, until I ate two or three of the shrimp first!

My favorite meal was the Ono special during DineLA week; grilled rare, and served with eggplant (underneath the fish), pinenut gremolata, celery, and orange.

I don’t usually eat desserts after two courses, but I am very glad I got the Key Lime Pie, made with a graham cracker crust and kaffir lime meringue for $8. It was the BEST version of Key Lime Pie I’ve ever tasted!

The fresh meringue and the creamy filling were just slightly sweet and slightly tart over the buttery crust. I took half it it to go, unable to leave what I could not finish!

After a great meal, great scenery 🙂

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Zazou, in Redondo Beach, was one of my favorite restaurants when I lived in the South Bay, and one my first night back, I decided to go with a place I knew, even if it had changed. I chose the 8 hour braised short ribs with mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach for $29. It was a beautiful LARGE plate and I looked forward to my first taste, but unfortunately the meat was not as tender as an eight hour braise should have made it. The flavors were good, not outstanding, but a decent blend of reduced beef stock. The fresh spinach saute and potatoes were both fine side dishes and the carrots and onions from the braising liquid added a nice textural component to this dish. This plate was so large, I could only eat half of it! My waitress was so wonderful she laughed when she asked if I wanted dessert, seeing I had left so much of my main course on the plate. I told her no dessert, but a decaf espresso would be great.
The decaf espresso was great, with perfect crema and made with excellent Lavazza beans.

Zazou on Urbanspoon

I went to Paciugo Gelato, in Hermosa Beach, for my dessert since it gave me time to drop off my leftovers and walk off some of my dinner. I love gelato and to have a place in Hermosa that does it well was one of the changes I loved finding in my old hometown. A small cone or cup can hold up to three flavors for under $5, with exotic options like strawberry lavender, wedding cake, and black pepper olive oil, you can chose something new or in my case, two old flavors, like coconut chocolate rum and extra dark chocolate. The perfect way to end a day is with a stroll along the beach and a cone of excellent gelato!

Paciugo Gelato Caffe on Urbanspoon

A new day meant finding a great coffee place to start my day and it looked like Two Guns Espresso in Manhattan Beach was THE place to get something called a “Flat White”. They use 3 shots of espresso and 6 oz of steamed milk (I got soy) for this smooth nonfrothy drink. I loved it. I especially loved the friendly baristas and the fact that they use Caffe Vita beans from Seattle which emphasize Fair Trade and Organic beans. If you frequent the area (or their shop) get a frequent user card and get a free drink after buying nine. The first Tuesday of every month is Ducati night when you can  drink free coffee as you peruse the latest models of this classic Italian motorcycle.

Two Guns Espresso + Coffee on Urbanspoon

After my Flat White at Two Guns Espresso, I really didn’t need anymore espresso, so even though they had organic coffees and teas, I opted for a light but sustaining breakfast, so I went to Planet Earth in Hermosa. I chose their house made granola with soy milk for $5.95. It was delicious, with bits of dried unsulfured apricots, cherries, coconut, and almonds. They have plenty of options for vegans, those who are dairy or gluten sensitive, and anyone who wants their food to be organic, free trade, and home made. The only drawback to the place is that they are so disorganized they had trouble keeping up with orders and ran out of ingredients like bananas for my granola by 10 am. One customer waited 20 minutes for eggs, another waited 10 minutes for a quinoa bowl. Since most people don’t have the luxury of time for breakfast, especially on a weekday, they need to work on their executions and supplies so their mises (preparation of their ingredients for the dishes) are en place (ready). No matter how good their intentions and supplies, they will not survive without better organization.

Planet Earth Coffee and Tea on Urbanspoon        More Beach Bites tomorrow 🙂

No, Industriel is not a misspelling, it is a restaurant serving “Urban Farm Cuisine” in downtown Los Angeles. The interior is definitely a playful mixture of industrial “decor” like the metal chains & pulley by the stairs, combined with a rustic farm feel as they show off their home made pickled carrots, tomato jam, and pickles for sale. Everything that can be made in house IS made in house here and the quality ingredients are skillfully used in all their dishes.

The Quinoa, with roasted mushrooms, pecan, kale, and a caramelized shallot vinaigrette was one of the best dishes using quinoa which I have ever tasted. The textures and flavors each complimented each other and gave the dish a hearty yet fresh taste.

The Red Snapper Nicoise was a delightful variation on the usual tuna. The perfectly cooked snapper was served with barely blanched green beans, olives, tomatoes, and the most perfectly done boiled eggs I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant, I could eat this dish several times a week. The bottarga dressing lightly coated the greens and gave a well balanced acidity to the fish.

The only reason I would not come here for lunch more often is the location in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. If you work in the area, this spot is a treasure, but if you don’t live or work in the area, coming here can be a bit of a challenge with traffic and parking, so I would suggest you make a reservation for a week-end and enjoy the pleasures of having a lazy day at Industriel.

Note: Underground parking at the One Wilshire building, about a block away, is only $5 on week-ends (cash only).

Industriel on Urbanspoon

Zinc in the Shade Hotel has a prime location only a few blocks to the beach and pier in the heart of Manhattan Beach. It’s a rare treat to find great food in a great location, but add to that combination some very affordable prices, and you’ve got a formula for success. Zinc seems to have mastered the formula. With a $16 lunch menu that includes an appetizer, entree and dessert every weekday between 11-4pm, this is a great place to enjoy a lunch at the beach without breaking your piggy bank.

I started with a tomato bisque drizzled with basil oil. It was a good rendition, not as flavorful as Bottega Louie’s or Bouchon’s, but a solid starter.

For my main course I chose the Steak Frites, hanger steak with brown butter, red wine demi-glace, and shallots, served with hand cut fries. I ordered it rare and it came as ordered, but because it did, the quality of the meat showed and it was not pretty. The sinewy piece was so tough in places that I could only eat about two thirds of the steak. The sauce was good and the crispy shallots were wonderful accompaniments. I would definitely choose another main course, like the King Salmon burger (which was sold out).

The fries needed salt, but unfortunately adding them after they arrived was a little too late since it would not stick after they had cooled.

I chose a berry sorbet for my dessert, a refreshing finish, not too sweet or tart.

Would I go back? Sure, but I would pick another main course and try the chocolate pot de creme for dessert next time. With a location like this, I want to find food good enough to go back for next time.

Note: You can park under the Mettox shops in covered city metered parking, so bring plenty of change or buy a cash key.

Zinc on Urbanspoon

The Tea Exchange is not only a shop, but a tea room which serves 11 kinds of tea lattes, paninnis, smoothies, and delicious baked goodies. I had the pomegranate green tea and Cindy had a tea latte (our taste in food is as different as our taste in men, but that is part of why we get along so well). We both enjoyed our selections and split a large peanut butter chocolate chip cookie that we agreed was perfect (especially since they warmed it for us before serving it so that it tasted as if it was coming fresh out of the oven.

The selection of teas and tea pots was astounding, ranging from flowering teas to remedies for allergies! If you love tea and are a tea expert, this shop is worth visiting just to peruse the selection of all things tea.

Since we were a bit early for dinner, we also stopped by Scala at 318 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 tel# 310.406.3000 The owner of this shop originally had several stores, but downsized to one location with a varied selection of everything from sky high stilettos to sheepskin boots. I bought a pair of these beautiful 888 flats normally $129, but on sale for $89. Cindy liked them so much, she also bought a pair (in pewter). They are extraordinarily comfortable and flexible enough to carry in your purse as your emergency pair after your stilettos torture your feet.



Ah tea and shopping by the beach, life is good!

I had lunch at Sashi in Manahattan Beach right after they opened, but it was time to try them again for dinner with sushi aficionado Cindy. It was a cold night at the beach (50F) with the fog rolling in, but we sat in the (heated) cozy patio and had a great dinner.

Cindy wanted only sushi, but when I saw they had a Miso Grilled Wild Alaskan Sea Bass ($6) on their robata selection, I had to order it. When I bit into the delicate fish I felt as if my mouth had taken a blissful bite of heaven. Cindy agreed that it was the best skewer of fish she had ever eaten.

Cindy ordered the spicy tuna roll ($12), made with avocado and she declared it the best she had ever eaten.

We ordered aji (skipjack), albacore, and tai (red snapper) ($6 per order) and every type of fish was delicate, fresh and delectable.

Cindy ordered the bikini roll with shrimp tempura, asparagus and crabmeat ($16). it was beautiful and tasty, but too rich for either of us to finish.

It’s always good to find a restaurant which does a nice lunch also does a nice dinner; it’s even nicer to share it with a friend.

Sashi: sushi and sake lounge on Urbanspoon

I love it when I am pleasantly surprised by a restaurant, and today I felt as if I got an unexpected gift at Sashi Sushi + Sake in Manhattan Beach. The restaurant is in the Metlox center, just steps from the beach and other fine restaurants, so there is plenty of competition around them which provide beautiful surroundings and wonderful food.

The space has a large covered outdoor terrace that looks out over the central square with a small dancing water area, so it’s the perfect place to sit when the weather is warm. Even though it was a chilly day (for Southern California this means it hovered around 50 degrees), I chose to sit outside on the cushioned seats and people watch. Thankfully I had a wide selection of seats, so I chose the one closest to the heat lamp and was comfortable throughout my meal. A complimentary dish of edamame was brought out with the menus and I appreciated having something healthy to munch on while I perused the selections of sushi, sake and other Asian style dishes.

I ordered the dry “Summer” sake selection ($10) and enjoyed it’s clean light taste, I also tried to order the Kanpachi sushi as an appetizer, but they were out of nearly all the white fish sushi, including the halibut and the fluke, so I ordered the Grilled Asian Flank Steak Salad ($16).

The salad is made with BBQ Indian Spice Marinated Flank Steak, Avocado, Mango, Mixed Cabbage, Bocconcini Cheese, Red Bell Peppers, Peanuts, Vine Tomato, Mint and Basil served with Sweet Chili Lime Vinaigrette. It was as tasty as it looked, with the steak done on the rare side (my preference even though I did not specify when I ordered), and all the vegetables were crisp and freshly chopped. The combination of mango, fresh basil with peeled vine tomatoes and bocconcini mozzarella in the salad was a successful taste twist on an Asian inspired salad.

My server, Cynthia was the epitome of an efficient professional, suggesting various substitutions for sushi items not available, and being instantly available even when not immediately visible to provide anything I might have needed.

Pleasant surprises are always the best ones, and Sashi is one of the best surprises I have had in awhile.

>Sometimes when good things in life are combined, great things are created; a creperie which serves wines and champagnes by the beach is one of those great things. There is of course the Cafe Crepe in Santa Monica, right on Third Street Promenade (see earlier post), but if you are in Manhattan Beach, there is La Creperie Cafe.

Service was a bit slow, but when we heard that several people did not show up for work the day after Thanksgiving, we felt extremely well served by the one waitress handling the entire restaurant by herself! The manager said that those who did not show up would be replaced, so hopefully the new hires will show up for the upcoming holidays.

The food was very good; from the tasty French Onion soup to the fabulous merguez sausage sandwich with harissa, served with a side salad and wonderfully garlicky french fries, everything was well presented and prepared. The bonus here are the Lavazza coffees and the wine list, both of which provide a variety of choices in quality at very reasonable prices. Lunch for two came in under $35 with drinks and tip; that in and of itself is a rarity in Manhattan Beach in the heart of the boutique/pier area.

The decor is very ecletic and fun, with red walls and fanciful seat covers, this place is definitely comfortable and fun. This is the perfect spot for breakfast, lunch, a nice afternoon snack, or a late night date of drinks and dessert at the beach. Hmmm, I think I’ll have a glass of Champagne with a nice cinnamon sugar crepe on my next visit-a good combo for anytime of day or night!

Sometimes when good things in life are combined, great things are created; a creperie which serves wines and champagnes by the beach is one of those great things. There is of course the Cafe Crepe in Santa Monica, right on Third Street Promenade (see earlier post), but if you are in Manhattan Beach, there is La Creperie Cafe.

Service was a bit slow, but when we heard that several people did not show up for work the day after Thanksgiving, we felt extremely well served by the one waitress handling the entire restaurant by herself! The manager said that those who did not show up would be replaced, so hopefully the new hires will show up for the upcoming holidays.

The food was very good; from the tasty French Onion soup to the fabulous merguez sausage sandwich with harissa, served with a side salad and wonderfully garlicky french fries, everything was well presented and prepared. The bonus here are the Lavazza coffees and the wine list, both of which provide a variety of choices in quality at very reasonable prices. Lunch for two came in under $35 with drinks and tip; that in and of itself is a rarity in Manhattan Beach in the heart of the boutique/pier area.

The decor is very ecletic and fun, with red walls and fanciful seat covers, this place is definitely comfortable and fun. This is the perfect spot for breakfast, lunch, a nice afternoon snack, or a late night date of drinks and dessert at the beach. Hmmm, I think I’ll have a glass of Champagne with a nice cinnamon sugar crepe on my next visit-a good combo for anytime of day or night!

>Sometimes it’s nice to go to a nearby neighborhood and spend an afternoon shopping and eating as if you lived in that town. It’s also nice to actually spend the night “out of town” in town just to enjoy a break from the everyday chores of life which inevitably end up intruding on a relaxing day at home. I like going to Manhattan Beach for my mini-vacation days. It’s got the massive Manhattan Village Mall and is close to the 405 freeway, but at the heart of the town by the pier, there are still individual shops and restaurants that do not have clones everywhere else.

Lulu’s is a small exquisite lingerie store located in the heart of Manhattan Beach, at 300 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 Tel 310-798-4577. Lulu’s has high-end designer lingerie and shoes like Cosabella, CYA, Missoni, and Costume National. They also have pretty jewelry and hair accessories to add the finishing touches. I love the boudoir feel of the shop and the friendly but not pushy staff. They also have some very cute and practical things like footpetals pads for those high heels to make them look killer without feeling killer. It feels like shopping in a very wealthy friend’s lingerie closet. They have sales that they will give you advance notice on if you sign up on their mailing list. I just bought a gorgeous Cosabella dress for 50% off! Quality on sale never goes out of style.

Lulu’s is just a few blocks to the ocean and surrounded by great little restaurants and cafes like my favorite breakfast place Le Pain Quotidien just a block up the same street in a nice courtyard. They offer organic artisan breads, great pastries and fabulous jams. It’s a great place to sip your latte out of a bowl so you can dunk in your buttery croissant at the communal table, just like in Europe. For lunch, they offer salads and sandwiches on their wonderful bread, all freshly and simply made. They started in Brussels, moved to NY, and are now finally here on the west coast. Next door to the cafe is Shade hotel, a nice place to stay if you don’t live in the area. All the beds at Shade are Tempurpedic and they have a hip bar on the roof that is more scenery than useful. The style is very modern and minimalist. The rates are not cheap, but it is in the heart of all the restaurants and shops, so it still is the next best thing to living in Manhattan Beach, and that is almost priceless.

Sometimes it’s nice to go to a nearby neighborhood and spend an afternoon shopping and eating as if you lived in that town. It’s also nice to actually spend the night “out of town” in town just to enjoy a break from the everyday chores of life which inevitably end up intruding on a relaxing day at home. I like going to Manhattan Beach for my mini-vacation days. It’s got the massive Manhattan Village Mall and is close to the 405 freeway, but at the heart of the town by the pier, there are still individual shops and restaurants that do not have clones everywhere else.

Lulu’s is a small exquisite lingerie store located in the heart of Manhattan Beach, at 300 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 Tel 310-798-4577. Lulu’s has high-end designer lingerie and shoes like Cosabella, CYA, Missoni, and Costume National. They also have pretty jewelry and hair accessories to add the finishing touches. I love the boudoir feel of the shop and the friendly but not pushy staff. They also have some very cute and practical things like footpetals pads for those high heels to make them look killer without feeling killer. It feels like shopping in a very wealthy friend’s lingerie closet. They have sales that they will give you advance notice on if you sign up on their mailing list. I just bought a gorgeous Cosabella dress for 50% off! Quality on sale never goes out of style.

Lulu’s is just a few blocks to the ocean and surrounded by great little restaurants and cafes like my favorite breakfast place Le Pain Quotidien just a block up the same street in a nice courtyard. They offer organic artisan breads, great pastries and fabulous jams. It’s a great place to sip your latte out of a bowl so you can dunk in your buttery croissant at the communal table, just like in Europe. For lunch, they offer salads and sandwiches on their wonderful bread, all freshly and simply made. They started in Brussels, moved to NY, and are now finally here on the west coast. Next door to the cafe is Shade hotel, a nice place to stay if you don’t live in the area. All the beds at Shade are Tempurpedic and they have a hip bar on the roof that is more scenery than useful. The style is very modern and minimalist. The rates are not cheap, but it is in the heart of all the restaurants and shops, so it still is the next best thing to living in Manhattan Beach, and that is almost priceless.

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