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Laid Back, Playful & a Little Rock n' Roll: Checking Out Chef David LeFevre's New MB Post
By Maya Meinert of ShopEatSleep/Special to LAist
When we first heard that Chef David LeFevre left downtown’s Water Grill late last year, we freaked out a little. Where else could we enjoy LeFevre’s sublime cooking? And how long would we have to wait?
But almost immediately LeFevre announced that he would be opening his own restaurant, so our fears were allayed. That new place turned out to be MB Post in Manhattan Beach, and it hasn’t disappointed.
Housed in the beach town's historic post office on Manhattan Avenue, MB Post is much more laid-back than Water Grill. With its rustic interior, bench seating and rockin’ soundtrack (think Elastica, Guns N’ Roses and the Beastie Boys), MB Post is much more LeFevre’s personal speed. But just because the white tablecloths are gone doesn’t mean the quality of the food has suffered; in fact, this menu is interesting, playful, and most of all, delicious.
Since opening in late April, the menu has changed daily, reflecting the seasonality of the food, the whims of the chef and the eclectic makeup of Los Angeles. On this particular night (a busy Tuesday, we might add), we sampled everything from Mexican albondigas to Vietnamese-style mussels, as well as every cocktail on the menu plus three more. Because that’s how we roll. Here were some of our favorites.
Many of the cocktails on MB Post’s list are twists on classics. The Sun Also Rises, a blood and sand variation made with Compass Box Oak Cross whisky, rhubarb and blood orange, was lighter than its muse would have been since the cherry brandy was eliminated. The Manhattan Avenue, a version of the manhattan made with Sazerac rye, vanilla, caramel and bacon dust on the rim, wasn’t as sweet as its ingredients made it sounds, which was a good thing. We could take or leave the bacon dust, though.
We were surprised that we liked the Festering Borough, a New York sour variation made with Eagle Rare bourbon, lemon, cinnamon, Framboise and egg. Normally we wouldn’t go for a drink with the combination of cinnamon, raspberry and egg, but this one was something we couldn’t put down. It’s not a light drink, but it won’t weigh you down, either. Perhaps our absolute favorite of the night was the Southern Hospitality, a bourbon punch made with Eagle Rare bourbon, grilled peaches, vanilla bean and cinnamon that have soaked with a charred piece of white oak for three days. The flavors complemented each other perfectly for a smooth finish, and the peach makes it summery.
It is obvious that we like bourbon? Because we do. A lot.
We’re still thinking about the bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits served with maple butter. They were so flavorful and could easily have served as a hearty breakfast. The fleur de sel pretzel served with David’s Nuclear Horseradish Mustard was delightfully chewy and spicy.
There is a wide variety of accoutrements that you can order with your cheese and charcuterie, or on their own. The pickled rhubarb, truffle honey and pink peppercorn mustard are all standout choices.
When it came to vegetables, the yellow cauliflower with sultanas, mint, pine nuts and caper berries was our pick of the night, as the roasted texture made the cauliflower soft on the inside and crisp on the outside.
We were surprised that we weren’t served more seafood, given LeFevre’s background. Then again, he probably wanted to show what else he could do. In any case, the steamed mussels with green curry, Vietnamese sausage and a ball of coriander sticky rice were a nice twist on traditional moules frites - flavorful and hearty without being overwhelming.
We were served many meat dishes, and the special of the night, the albondigas meatballs with garnet yam puree, shishito peppers and maple miso glaze, were sweet and savory. The organic free-range chicken breast with panzanella (bread and tomato salad), eggplant puree and green olive pesto was perfectly cooked and seasoned. We’re always a sucker for a great roast chicken. The Vietnamese caramel pork jowl with green papaya salad and lime was a favorite at our table, but we found it a tad too sweet.
Last but not least, the strawberry-verbena shortcake topped with whipped vanilla cream was hands-down our favorite dessert. We adore lemon, so the addition of the verbena here, with the sweetness of the strawberries, lightness of the cream and crunchiness of the caramelized sugar crystals on the biscuit made this the perfect end to this meal. Our table really liked The Elvis, “a wonderful mess” of peanut butter mousse, caramelized banana, chocolate pudding and bacon brittle. It was tasty, but it was much too heavy after such a large meal.
All in all, this was a great meal. If you’re looking for a casual meal made with high-quality ingredients and expert cooking, then head over to MB Post. We would go back in a heartbeat.