11.16.2011

M.B. Post - And a Girl Date.


With a little less than a week to go, I have successfully tested, at least once, every recipe for the next Dinner at Eight. I have delivered one of everything to Jill so she can assess her pairings. I have used all of the leftovers to deliver lunches to various folks around Hollywood and I still have a refrigerator that is fecund with said food.

And yet I wanted none of it for dinner last night.

And so I grabbed up Nastassia and headed to Manhattan Beach to finally sample David Lefevre’s kitchen skills at his, highly praised, M.B. Post. My interest was piqued about Lefevre after I tasted but only one dish a few months back at the Test Kitchen reunion. The downstairs of the townhouse (Sotto) had Steve Samson & Zach Pollack hosting Walter Manzke, Nancy Silverton, David and Matt Molina (Mozza). And some cat named David Lefevre whose last job was executive chef at Water Grill.

When I scrolled down the menu, I surprisingly whipped past all of the chef’s-who-I-was-geeked-about’s dishes and became fixated upon Lefevre’s Braised Pork with Crispy Gnocchi, Summer Squash, Bianco Sardo. Without minimizing any of the other chef’s dishes or skills, as the meal in its entirety was remarkable, that braised pork dish, without hesitation, stole the show. And I was not alone with this opinion.

My friend, Emma, and I were also fortunate enough to be seated at the two spots that gaze directly into the kitchen, smack in front of Lefevre’s station. We both thoroughly enjoyed watching him and having some light banter towards the end of the evening (during which we both promised to hit up his new spot, M.B. Post posthaste).


Cut to last night.

It’s not too often I stray from my Hollysphere, but I am rarely a pantywaist about doing so. I guess I just need the right partner to be down with me. Enter Nastassia, and a perfectly pleasant and lovely drive from my Canyon to the most perfect parking place right next to our destination in Manhattan Beach. Easy breezy.

We were shocked to see the place straight up bustling at eight o’clock on a Monday night. Regardless, our hostess was able to seat us immediately at one of the smaller communal tables.

I look around. I dig it. It’s happy. It’s warm and comfortable. It’s confident. It reflects no affectation. I’m surrounded by flip flops, suits, no make-up, lip jobs, cute boys, frat-types, darling dresses, jeans, button-downs, tee-shirts, regulars and newbies alike. And, hey, it’s in an old post office!

 

Our smiling server, with her Rachel Ray-cute looks and Rita Hayworth-sultry voice, was directly present to get our drinks and had a pretty astute knowledge of the wines on the (solid) list. I went for the Pierre Soulez ‘chateau de chamboureau - grand cru’ savennieres, loire, france, 09 ($13.50).

 

After slightly too long, as Nastassia and I were chatty-chat-orama, we got down to it and ordered a few things in the food department from the menu that wanted to take us on a trip around the globe. We began with the bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits with maple butter ($5), blistering Blue Lake green beans with Thai basil, chili sauce and crispy pork ( $9) and the roasted brussels sprouts with Emmental, hazelnuts and sage ($9).

 

 

The biscuits were downright magnificent. Warm, with burny-crispies on the outside and downy and steamy on the inside, peppered with little chunklets of bacon and infused with cheesiness throughout. Then I tried a bite with the butter. It’s a good thing I got to that butter when I did. Nastassia was threatening to lick the ramekin clean… Yes, that’s how good.

 

 

As we giggled in the reverie of the biscuits and got into a little bit of fun girl-talk, our blistery green beans and our roasty brussels sprouts appeared before us. I love a green bean and I love a brussels sprout even more. These were both special, but the green beans really sparkled here. They were perfectly cooked, crisp, but with a give, and accented with bold, heavy flavors. The pork was rich, succulent and salty and added another layer of nuance and texture to the bright and fresh beans.

 

 

Roasted brussels sprouts are something I not only do at home, with great frequency, but I see out often on menus at establishments ranging from gastro pubs to fine dining. More often than not, their preparation with hazelnuts, brown butter, slow-roasted to an almost perfect storm of burn and caramelization is ubiquitous on these menus. This wasn’t a far cry from that, but I will say that I loved that the brussels sprouts were huge, well-prepared and the Emmental and sage were elegant and apt touches.

At our server's suggestion, I moved on to a glass of the Saxon-Brown "cricket creek vineyard" semillon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, 08 ($11.50).

Then we were delivered the Japanese hamachi with yuzu koshu, avocado, puffed forbidden rice ($12) and the Vietnamese caramel pork jowl with green papaya salad and lime ($13). I thought the hamachi was fresh, elegant and delicious. I thought that the dish was conceptually, perfect. But I also thought that the puffed forbidden rice was very big and thick and crunchy and intense. It battled with the delicate and perfect hamachi a bit. I would have loved it just as much sans puffed forbidden rice.

 

 

The pork jowl was divine. It. Was. Divine. It was unctuous, fatty, savory, sweet, acidic, crisp, soft and utterly delectable. This and the green beans are, in my humble opinion must haves. 

 

 

This is normally where I would call it a night, food-wise, and just continue on my wine trajectory. But I was with Natstassia… hello? So, yes, we ordered the Spiced Honeycrisp apple handpies with salted caramel sauce ($7).

I ordered a tawny port to go with this.

 

 

It was awesome. It really was. Nastassia was over the moon. We deduced that there must be lard in that perfect salty crust. I ate a few bites, even with the cooked fruit situation, but I liked it a lot. For a more discerned palate’s dialogue on the dish, I suggest you stay tuned for Nastassia’s words on the matter.

 

But we were really happy. This is a good place. This is a smart place. We both want to return.

 

 

One year ago today: Sausage Over Creamy Lentils

Two years ago today: Grilled Cheese Night at Campanile

 

 

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