Visitors could get a taste of the best Manhattan Beach has to offer at the second annual Bite at the Beach.
It’s almost the start of summer, and the beach cities are getting into the swing of things. The greatest way to show off what is to come is to have the best restaurants in the area show off their signature beers and dishes.
The second-annual Bite at the Beach event took place at the Manhattan Beach Studios backlot on May 16. Upon arrival the vibe was very chill, but all of the booths were placed in an alley behind some buildings. An odd choice, because once the crowd got thicker it was a little clustered. Imagine a rectangle with tables outlining the long sides of it and a band in the middle of one of those sides. That was pretty much the layout, and the center contained three tables for a few hundred people to use. So, needless to say, it was very tough eating what you wanted to sample.
But enough about the layout … let’s talk about the food!
There were some chain restaurants that held down tables like Rubio’s and Olive Garden (They had wine only, so that was OK by me.), but they were just there for the advertising space. Here are a few highlights that were there to show off their skills on a non-corporate level:
El Segundo Brewing Company had their finest brew on hand, and it was light and sharp. The stronger of the two offerings was a bit much, but if you like a double IPA you will be happy. The alcohol content was present, but I feel that takes away from the other food you try to pair it with. The bitterness takes away from the options that give your palate something to work with.
El Segundo Brewing Company was at the same table as Tin Roof Bistro. They ended up featuring some amazing options. The meatballs they put together with a spicy white sauce stood out, but the dish was unfortunately muted by the beer paring. We were told that they were just put with other vendors, and the beers weren’t supposed to compliment the food. This was a huge mistake. But I digress, more food talk…
Paul Martin’s American Grill was there and showed off something so simple and so flavorful it was shocking in a good way. Toast with goat cheese and prosciutto on top. The meat was flown in from Iowa, and the cheese was slightly warm. It went down smooth and actually countered the taste of the beer from before. This is a note to chefs out there: If your ingredients are solid, you don’t have to get too wild with extra flavors.
A SoCal favorite showed up and had the best overall option. Lemonade had a grilled cheese on cinnamon toast with a stone fruit garnish that was unreal. It was savory and sweet. The portion was perfect, and it had a true California flavor that you don’t find too often at these events. It always seems that others try to taste like something else, but Lemonade nailed it.
Another notable participant was Coni’Seafood Restaurant. They had a very fresh offering, but the habanero ceviche was just too much. I like spicy, I like hot – but not like this. Everyone that left their table was saying the same thing, “Oh, this is great. Wait, oh my God … get me water, beer. My mouth is on fire!” Not cool. Literally. If they left this with a hint of habanero it would have been perfect. The seafood was superb, though.
Overall this was a fun event for locals to attend, but if you don’t live close, you’re not missing anything. Also, it’s pretty expensive for tastings of this size. $100 for VIP and $75 for regular admission. Yes, it’s all you can drink, but with a packed space in an alley you should get more options for that price.