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Photos: Fresh Seafood at Its Best at Fishing With Dynamite

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Chef David Lefevre's Fishing With Dynamite opened this spring in Manhattan Beach just two doors down from MB Post, the hip spot known for their spicy bloody marys and crave-worthy bacon cheddar biscuits, giving Angelenos another reason to drive down to the Beach Cities. FWD is a one of a gaggle of restaurants that's recently started serving in the area, adding to the city's culinary cache. In a town that was for so many years known for whipping up fried fish and chips, FWD brings an elegantly playful homage to the sea.

The tiny restaurant, whose dining room is a mere 450 square feet, makes the most of its space by utilizing lots of light and adding funky little coastal design touches here and there. (Check out the photos for some of those elements.) The remodel of the former Talia's Italian restaurant space is one worthy of Apartment Therapy. The 36 seats are within close quarters, but what the beachy craftsman-like dining room lacks in size, it makes up for in style.

Lefevre's oyster bar is the focal point of the teensy dining room, and rightfully so. The seafood is absolutely impeccable. A lot of places are trying to bring raw bars and oysters onto their menus, but no one does it with the exacting integrity of LeFevre, who had formerly run the kitchen at Water Grill and has worked with Charlie Trotter. The bivalves and other shellfish are always served cold and clean, and are shucked with precision as orders come in.

What's on offer when it comes to the oysters changes depending on what's in season. There's a hearty variety of both East and West Coast options. LeFevre explains that oysters from the Pacific showcase more melon and fruit characteristics because they are grown intertidally, so they're not always covered with sea water. East Coast oysters, on the other hand, are subtidal, so they are always submerged in salt water, resulting in a more briny taste. You can order your oysters with with mignonette, cocktail sauce, ponzu, or pico de gallo, but you won't really be able to see the subtle differences in the varieties unless you "eat them naked" as LeFevre says.

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In terms of other raw items, there's live Santa Barbara sea urchin, clams, mussels, shrimp, and Peruvian scallops served with grapefruit and ponzu. They can be ordered individually or put into a beautifully presented tower, the largest of which is the $145 Mothershucker, a whopping presentation of of 15 oysters, 6 clams, 16 shrimp, 20 mussels, 1 whole lobster, 1 whole dungeness crab, and live uni that's meant to serve 6. The name is just one of the many comedic touches you'll find on the menu, and in the artwork on the walls at FWD.

Unfortunately some of our favorite dishes like the phenomenal Maryland blue crab cake and grilled octopus with white beans, date-tomato ragu, preserved lemon and kalamata olive tampenade didn't photograph too well. But trust us when we say you want to order them. Especially that crab cake. The lack bread crumbs and other money-saving fillers really allows the sweet meat of the shellfish to shine.

Also worth diving into are the cocktails crafted by Jerry Garbus. Per Lefevre's suggestion we went with Through the Looking Glass, a sipper made with Jabberwok gin, fino sherry, Donlin dry vermouth, and orange. It complimented the oysters perfectly as promised.

And don't forget to grab an order of the zesty key lime pie. It's seriously one of the best we've had. Naturally, it was gone before we could even think to snap a shot. But give us a break; you know how much we love pie.

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