MB Post, Los Angeles review

Until chef David LeFevre bravely opened MP Post, slap-bang in the middle of Manhattan Beach, LA’s south bay never really contributed much to the culinary scene beyond beach-boy burger joints and beer bars. Surely a long time protégé of Charlie Trotter’s, or a Michelin star winning executive chef of downtown’s famed Water Grill who wanted to open his first solo foray in the heart of a sleepy surfer town must have been barking up the wrong lifeguard tower. But we all have to hand it to him – not only did he ace it, but he started a tidal change of popular foodie hotspots up and down the Pacific beachfront. 

LeFevre’s concept was to simply recreate a few sharable comfort food dishes that reminded him of his roots. Who knew this would turn into reservation riots and valet parking apoplexy as he drove his neighbors nuts with addictive tastes and textures well beyond their Baywatch comfort zones.

There’s an über-emphasis on chilled, laid-back informality in the vast, open space. The wooden walls and concrete floors feel cool but intimate, and the odd lifeguard tchotchke here and there feels reminiscent of old school corn-dog shacks. The sand colored envelope addressed to you (a nod to the restaurant’s former life as a post office) contains the list of robust offerings of local and selected small batch wines, ten cocktails with a few unique twists and shakes, and a region-free menu categorized by ingredients rather than courses.

Menu - MB Post

You’ve got mail!

As if by socialist decree, there seems to be a mandatory serving of a Bourbon sour at just about every table. The sneaky switcheroo of Kentucky Bourbon for Pisco with frothy egg-white-whipped lime-juice seems to have become the Tequila sunrise of the new generation. And right beside them, like a couple of sun tanned, liver-spotted beach bums – the wave stopping Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits. These bad boys go down SO well with a thimbleful of whipped maple butter, that I would like to nominate their recipe for inclusion into the next time-capsule. Why shouldn’t archaeologists, a thousand years from now, relish in the delight and pleasure of millennials, who paid currency for this incomparably more-ish treat, after riding the surf with fin-shaped planks?

Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits - MB Post

Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

The cheese and cured meats cater to just about every appetite, from the simplest cheddar with honey, to salty slithers of dark red Jamon Iberico with a bracingly strong horseradishy mustard and tart pickles. I would also argue that there’s at least one vegetable with everyone’s name on it. Mine’s probably on those blistered Blue Lake Beans with the most wonderful Thai basil and chili sauce and a few dice of crispy pork belly. Or perhaps the creamy, dreamy Mac & Cheese with parmesan, mycella blue and fontina. Maybe the fruity, fragranty Pomegranate Couscous with lavender feta…? No. It has to be the caramelized Roasted Brussels Sprouts with crunchy hazelnuts and strips of emmentaler.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts - MB Post

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

LeFevre offers an equally scrumptious choice of more serious eats. His Loup de Mer has the crispiest garlic-topped skin out of any fish in the greater 310 area code. It sits atop a birds nest of julienned cucumber and an almost green-papaya, mint and cilantro dressing.

Loup de Mer - MB Post

Loup de Mer

The only oddity in a string of otherwise safe bets were the line of Shrimp and Pork Dumplings straddling an insipid ponzu sauce (rather than, say, a thick soy-garlic dip), but more incongruous were the lonely chicharrones, providing little more than punctuation. But the unsurprisingly popular soft-as-a-salt-water-taffy Meyer Farm Beef Rib-eye arrived nicely charred outside and perfectly pink inside, slithered into pencil strips and topped with a rich disc of melting black truffle butter.

Meyer Farm Rib-Eye - MB Post

Meyer Farm Rib-Eye

And you thought you could only get a corn-dogs at the beach!

www.eatmbpost.com

Trois Mec, Los Angeles review

Trois Mec

Trois Mec

Trying to get into any of LA’s “it” restaurants at the peak of their game has always involved a bit of high stakes drama. But none can rival the theatrical shenanigans of securing a seat at Jon Shook, Vinny Dotolo and Ludo Lefebvre’s Trois Mec (three mates). Just like any other live performance, the website offers tickets to specific sittings on specific dates. The “pay now – see you in two weeks” scheme permits diners to sample Lefebvre’s unconventional cuisine in a daily changing, omakase (chef’s choice) menu of whatever happens to be in season, in vogue or in the pantry.

Trois Mec exterior

Trois Mec exterior

Thrilled to be finally clutching a ticket, I gingerly opened the door to a roar of “Bon soir”, in an utterly unremarkable dining room, that occupies the space of a formerly unremarkable pizza joint at the end of an unremarkable strip mall in the shade of the Hollywood hills.

Then for the next couple of hours I found myself drowning in a tsunami of mediocrity as the giant candle of hype melted away into a puddle of weak tea. Sure, the notion of a don’t ask, don’t tell, hush-hush, say-no-more, pre-pay, chef’s choice supper club sounds rather enticing, but when the eloquently described dishes yield little more than the total sum of their parts, its hard not to feel like you’ve just been taken for a bit of a backstage joyride.

Garlic Bread - Trois Mec

Garlic Bread

A series of pre-menu Snacks included the house signature Buckwheat Popcorn – a decent enough, salt and vinegary blocker for the gaps in between the teeth; the peppery Tapioca cake with melted Parmesan cheese – a solid runner-up in the rice-cake cook-off; a Dijon Crème Brulee – every bit as unnecessary and pretentious as it sounds; a highly forgettable miniature sesame crisp something-or-other with shredded greens; and finally the first applause-worthy item, a square inch block of fire toasted Garlic Bread with melted herb butter.

Spot Prawn - Trois Mec

Spot Prawn

The five menu items started with the melancholy death of a Santa Barbara Spot Prawn, which was camouflaged from sight by slithers of crusty tomato, and camouflaged from taste by the violent upstaging of horseradish-infused crème fraiche.

Grilled Eggplant Caviar - Trois Mec

Grilled Eggplant Caviar

The Grilled Eggplant Caviar reminded me of a bucket of red laundry with Jamon Iberico swimming in a soggy pond of honey melon juice amidst a few crushed hazelnuts in suspension.

The Sunchoke salad, the only real hit among the misses included a medley of the thinnest slithers of delicately pickled sunchokes amongst a splendid blend of crunchy green beans and roasted sunflower seeds over a bed of citrusy hummus, spiked with thyme powder, giving the dish a fresh elegance and a little hope for the rest of the evening’s performance.

Sunchoke Salad - Trois Mec

Sunchoke Salad

The jury is still out as to whether it might have been easier to slice through my wallet or the Grilled Beef Belly, which would have also benefited more from the company of a crispy roast potato than the paltry abalone mushroom and green herb jus.

And finally a sugar-crusted, raw egg yolk topped the Carolina gold Rice Pudding, which came peppered with brown butter powder, making for a curiously savory and unnecessarily rich dessert.

Sesame Crisp - Trois Mec

Sesame Crisp

If I’m ever in the area again, I just might pop next door to Ludo’s Parisian bistro Petite Trois, which by all accounts looks and feels (and hopefully tastes) like a real meal – and may yield slightly more value for the $100 seat!

https://www.troismec.com/