The last week of June, I spent in LA and San Diego. One of the best restaurant experiences I had during that trip was at Manhattan Beach Post. The day was beautiful, with lots of sunshine streaming down upon us and a slight ocean breeze as we arrived at Manhattan Beach. After our dinner of lots of small plates and some cocktails, we had a walk to aid our digestion along Manhattan Beach Pier.
The restaurant, also known as M.B. Post, was just opening for its dinner service as we arrived, with the front windowed walls thrown open to take in the summer weather, and the wood with modern metal frames throughout the restaurant gave off a beachy chic while touches of nostalgia were brought in with multiple post boxes and the menu delivered in an envelope like a mail package.
We started out with their infamous bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits with maple butter. They are worth the hype, warm, gooey with cheese inside and speckled with bits of delicious salty bacon and everything was gone from when we each picked ours up just a few minutes either. The maple butter was not needed. If we had not already ordered a third of the menu I might have been tempted for another round.
Now let me pause to discuss some of the handcrafted cocktails. The impressive looking Mo-Pho-Jito, a mojito with starr, kaffir lime, mint, ginger, and coriander honey and a name that makes you roll your eyes but also crack a smile as you order it. The Manhattan Avenue, a manhattan with templeton rye, vanilla, caramel, and bacon dust. You read right, Bacon Dust.
Then, there was the hint of apple pie but not too sweet with cocktail named The Fall of Man, penicillin with compass box ‘oak cross’, apple, maple, cinnamon. And, the Hearts of Darkness, matador with hacienda de chihuahua, pineapple, basil, clove, smoke, oh so much smokiness. Also, finally, the cocktail called Avila’s Heir, a clean citrusy palate cleansing margarita with corralejo reposado, serrano, mandarin, yuzu.
Now back to the food, to our meal of the small plates between the four of us. The ones we loved the most were:
- Raviolo- it was a seasonal special of egg yolk raviolo with herb ricotta, snap peas, baby artichokes, red onion jam, and lardo. We attempted to share (each plate had a single supersize ravioli aka raviolo we split in half) and we carefully spooned the broken yolk as we cut the raviolo as to not lose it on the plate. This was the most delicate dish of the evening, and I relished it because of this.
- Roasted brussels sprouts with emmental, hazelnuts, sage, which prompted an amusing discussion at our table on the difference between “roasted/browned” and “slightly burned”. Of course the key is charred kind of caramelization, which these sprouts had plenty of
- Blistering Blue Lake Green Beans with thai basil, chili sauce, and crispy pork was a bright dish of fresh flavors that had no surviving green beans left
- BBQ Moroccan Lamb Belly with harissa caramelized onions, Japanese eggplant was essentially a love note to sticky caramelization
- White Oak Grilled Skirt Steak with grilled broccolini and red chimichurri- as you can see, it comes as a layered dish of broccolini, skirt steak, broccolini, skirt steak, one of the best stacks ever!
The tasty, but not quite as oh wow reactions as the above dishes, were:
- Fleur De Sel Pretzel, with “David’s nuclear horseradish mustard” I think oversold us with the name of the mustard but was decent
- A charcuterie plate- the only negative surprise of the evening as we asked for them to put together a charcuterie plate for us to share rather than picking and ordering some of the individual 5 meats in their cured meats section, and then when we got the check we saw their interpretation of this request was to put all 5 of the meats at full price/full portions, plus a $2 mustard order they put on the board, totalling that charcuterie plate at a cost of $63! Surprise!
Anyway, the cured meats included La Quercia Spec, an applewood smoked americano prosciutto raised by Heritage Acres; Picante Salami, by Cristiano Creminielli from Utah; La Quercia ‘Tamworth’ Prosciutto and also La Quercia ‘Acorn Edition’ Coppa, both raised by Russ Kremer from Czarks, Missouri; and Cabacero de Iberico de Bellota Puro from Extremadora, Spain. The $2 mustard selection included pink pepercorn, stout, and redwine mustards.
- Grilled Yellowtail with smashed cauliflower, crispy onions, romesco sauce was a great steaky cut but without the romesco sauce to help it, seemed to me a underseasoned and a bit dry on the outside as if it didn’t spend enough time in a flavored olive oil marinade before hitting the flames
- Broccoflower with lemon, caper, chili flake, parmesan was a great idea for a dish, but based on how hard the florets were seemed like they could have used a few more minutes to soften them up just a smidge more
Despite my notes on the second string dishes, they were still tasty, it was just a matter that we were not polishing it completely off because they were so amazing, unlike the the first string dishes I mentioned.
Looking at the beauty of the food above, it’s no wonder that when I tried to make reservations even a week before, the only two openings for our party were at 5:30 or at 8:30 even on a Tuesday evening. We got there when it first opened for dinner service, and this place quickly got busy, the tables all filling up and every chair occupied. My dining companions had a good time along with I grooving to the good background of fun rock music, the staff was smooth in providing recommendations and checking on us to keep us happy with beverages. Great food, great drinks, great atmosphere, great service, this place has it all together.