Friday, July 1, 2011

MB Post: LeFevre Raises the Bar in Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach had been in need of a destination restaurant that reflected the informality of the upscale beach community.  Chef David LeFevre, formerly the Executive Chef of the Water Grill in Downtown Los Angeles had been wanting to open a restaurant in his own neighborhood to fill that void and he has succeeded in both delivering a quality experience and pleasing the masses, as the food was quite good and the restaurant was packed on my visit.

I recently met up with Daniel from ThirstyinLA, Fiona of GourmetPigs and Tony from SinoSoul for a media dinner at MB Post and I had the opportunity to try the full gamut of the menu.  Although known for his fish dishes, LeFevre also excels at meat and vegetable dishes, such as the lamb belly and fried chicken.

Pomegranate Cous Cous

I particularly enjoyed the Salt Roasted Baby Beets served with chevre goat cheese and pistachio and beet green pesto.  The presentation was attractive and the beets still had their stems which made them appear freshly picked.

Salt Roasted Baby Beets
There is an extensive bread selection and the Fleur de Sel Pretzel served with horseradish mustard is the way to go.  The mustard is legitimately spicy and the pretzel was just the right consistency.  Hans Rockenwagner better watch out.

Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits, Fleur de Sel Pretzel, Grilled Naan Flatbread

Cured Meats and Cheeses

The cheese selection includes some unusual choices, such as the Mycella Blue from Denmark.  Some marcona almonds are just the thing to accompany an order of cheese.  MB Post also offers a selection of honeys.  I had not seen this before and it is worth ordering for the novelty alone.  The honeys are comb, chestnut and truffle.  My favorite was the simplest, the comb, as the truffle could be overly intense.

Honey Selection, Mustard Selection and Fruit Spreads

Marinated Cucumbers
The Marinated Cucumbers with kalamata olives, peppadew peppers and chick peas is an unusual flavor combination with the salty of the olives with the sweet spiciness of the peppers and the neutral canvas of the cucumbers.

My favorite dish, hands down, was the Steamed Tai Snapper with bok choy and sudachi (Japanese citrus).  It was delicate and flavorful and the broth was just wonderful.  This was the dish I wanted to keep all to myself; it is not surprising that LeFevre is a fish expert.

Steamed Tai Snapper
For the lumberjacks in your party, the Fee Fi Fo Fum Fries are just the thing.  They must come from enormous potatoes as they are almost a foot long.  These thick cut fries with salt and herbs also retain much of the potato skin.  You may need a wheelbarrow full of ketchup to properly dunk them.

Fee Fi Fo Fum Fries

Moroccan BBQ Lamb Belly
The Moroccan BBQ Lamb Belly with creamy semolina, and weiser farms tiny carrots was as soft as short ribs.  The meat was unctuous and rich.  This felt like more of a winter dish for a cold night.  The Meyers Farm "Never Ever" Skirt Steak with grilled ramps and chicichurri was tasty and had some chew.  A crisp red wine would be just the thing to drink with it.

Meyers Farm "Never Ever" Skirt Steak
Three Point Tart

For dessert, I found the Three Point Tart to be the most successful as it combined macerated strawberries and rhubarb inside the pastry and was served with a buttermilk panna cotta.  The tart looked very much like an over-sized Hamentaschen, the traditional dessert at the Jewish holiday of Purim, which is made to look like a three point hat.  The fruit tasted fresh and the combination of strawberry and rhubarb was a pleasing way to end the meal.

Chef David LeFevre
LeFevre is excited that the neighborhood has taken to MB Post so strongly.  This is the rare South Bay restaurant that is worth the detour from the Westside.  It doesn't run away or condescend to its neighborhood; rather it provides an experience that feels organic, like it should have always been there, but better.  With its comfortable vibe and accessible quality, MB Post lives up to its moniker, a Social House.

MB Post: 1142 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach.  Phone: (310) 545-5405.  Website:

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