Strata and Kitchen – Easy Reader News
I don’t often find myself comparing restaurant offerings to geology, but that’s just the metaphor that came to my mind when I had dinner last week at The Strand House. I’ve been there over the course of a decade and through the tenure of at least five chefs, each having arrived with their own ideas of what would appeal to diners. In many restaurants, each new chef would wipe the slate clean and cook exactly what they wanted, but somehow, that’s not how it worked here. Instead, you can see the strengths of each chef’s tenure in the menu, offerings like strata in a fossil bed. It’s interesting to look at past food trends while reflecting on what the current incumbent will bring to the establishment.
The chef of Strand House is now Craig Hopson, an Australian passionate about modern French technique. The previous chefs brought their passion for new American, South European and Asian fusion ideas, all mixed with an experimental bent and a tendency to do as much as possible in-house. We saw a few old favorites on the menu and considered ordering some, but really wanted to see what Chef Hopson was up to and asked our server to recommend some of his creations. He suggested a summery corn soup with corn and crab cakes, a beet and plum salad, and a tempura soft shell crab over forbidden rice with a spicy chai tomato sauce. Seasoning tomato sauce with Indian spice tea was an idea I had never seen before, and it’s a good idea. The exotic, slightly smoky herbal flavor is excellent with nut black rice. The crabs that topped this were layered on top of each other like a game of leapfrog, a dramatic presentation for a seafood that had been thoughtfully left almost unadorned. The breaded and fried seafood was a clean, natural flavor to pair with the calculated and complex flavors of the plate, and the restraint paid off.
I almost turned down the plum and beet salad because my wife and I had just had a peach and beet salad the night before, but I’m glad we had this one. Who would have thought of grating the beets, frying them into a crispy disc, and then putting them on top of fresh fruit and roasted vegetables? The pistachio vinaigrette and mint leaves gave it a slight Middle Eastern flavor, and it was a new take on a modern classic. The corn soup was conventional by comparison, a simple set of flavors accented by a swirl of basil pesto. He has the simplicity of French Mediterranean cuisine, showing off great ingredients and knowing when to stop.
We continued with an item that has been on the menu for years in different preparations, the Royal Ora salmon. This New Zealand farmed fish gets high marks for both durability and flavor, and when we visited four years ago, it was made with an Asian-style sauce that included radishes and Japanese pickles. Chef Hopson took it in a different direction, with the grilled fish over grilled squash, tomato and lemon cucumber with zucchini blossoms tempura and a slightly salty, mineral herb called agretti. It’s a bit of seasoned spinach and it’s a very good fish companion, and now that I’ve tried it, I’m going to look for it in the produce section. The vegetables had been mixed with a subtle miso vinaigrette after being grilled, which left the distinctive flavors and complemented the perfectly cooked fish.
After that we had the Peruvian chicken and a roast duck breast with farro (and yes we ordered too much, but my wife had two days of office lunches outside of dinner). The Peruvian chicken wasn’t entirely different from the item that has become popular in recent years, but the sauce that came with it mixed Peruvian peppers with mashed celery and buttermilk. It was a great mix of freshness and heat that complemented the chicken and the side of the crispy roasted potatoes quite well. The roast duck breast was conventional in comparison, and perhaps the most faithful to French tradition even though it was made with unusual ingredients. The candied thigh and thigh rested on a bed of farro containing bits of tangy rhubarb that pierced the fatty flavors of the meat and beef glaze.
The Strand House has an impressive list by the glass and, as has always been the case here, the waiters know their stock. We asked for suggestions and received some great pairings including a Cherry House Rhone with the duck.
We almost decided to share a dessert, but couldn’t choose between a sweet corn cake with blueberries and ricotta and a lime pie, one of my favorite desserts. Both were very good, but I would give the corn cake the edge, which was topped with sweet corn ice cream, cornflake crumble, and salted caramel. My wife rarely likes salted caramel or sweets but was won over by the combination of vegetable sweetness and honey with a light salty bite.
On a whim the next day I looked online and found the Strand House had room for Sunday brunch. So we went to see what Chef Hopson could have added to this menu. Turns out that hadn’t changed much, so my wife ordered a Benedictine salmon that she liked on a previous visit while I had the breakfast burrito, and we shared a little cinnamon bread. The breakfast burrito here is barely recognizable as a burrito – it arrives under a sunny pair of eggs rather than the eggs inside. It’s stuffed with hash browns and skirt steak, a bit harder cut than many, but very tasty when properly prepared, and there’s beans, salsa, and homemade fries. on the side. I prefer the more traditional form of the burrito, but all the flavors were perfect. I highly recommend pairing it with the cocktail called Weekend Brunch, which has very strong citrus and herbal flavors as it accentuates Mexican spices. My wife’s Old Fashioned Peach was unusually fruity in comparison and was the only cocktail I’ve had here that wasn’t to my liking
I would have the cinnamon roll again, but I would ask for the frosting on the side, as the sweet and savory flavors of the caramel bacon maple were a bit overwhelming. The idea was good, but I would have liked to have been able to get only what I wanted.
Brunch at the Strand House is surprisingly reasonable for great food and drinks overlooking the beach. A meal for two with a pot of French press and cocktails cost around $ 70. If you haven’t been there for lunch, brunch, or dinner, then do. They celebrate a decade of activity and are part of the local food scene more than ever.
The Strand House is located at 117 Manhattan Beach Boulevard in Manhattan Beach. Parking on the street or adjacent lot – allow time to find a space. 11:30 am – 9:00 pm; Tu es. to Fri; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sat-Sun Wheelchair access correct. Some vegan items. Full bar, corkage fee $ 30. (310) 545-7470. TheStrandHousemb.com. emergency