Gastropubs

Jimmy’s Beer Dinner Featuring Avery Brewing Company

Last night we attended the monthly beer dinner held at Jimmy’s Bar & Grill in Redondo Beach, which featured beers from Avery Brewing Company to go along with the custom dinner menu prepared by chef/partner, Marc Dix. Avery Brewing Company was represented by their regional brewery rep, Christina Roberts who was more than happy to explain the history and nuance of each brew.

I know I have said it before, and I am sure this will not be the last time I write something similar, but of all the beer dinners I have attended, no one does it better than Marc Dix and his staff at Jimmy’s Bar & Grill. The primary reason, in my opinion anyway, is that Dix does not choose something off his menu and pair it with one of the available beers; he chooses the beer then tailors the dish around it so they complement each other. Since Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, and many people do not eat meat on that day, our meal consisted of different fish variations.

Last night began with a Joe’s Pilsner as a welcome beer which was followed with our first course; a delicious salmon with a sweet chili ginger glaze that was topped with a pineapple mango salsa. This was paired with a Raja Double IPA. The tropical nose of the Raja made perfect sense when paired with the salsa. Continue reading

Flame Pizzeria, Reseda: Best Pizza & Beer or Best Anywhere?

The other day I got a phone call from “Joseph” telling me that he had just gotten involved with a pizzeria and that they had an outstanding tap list that I really should try. In the course of discussion he mentioned that he and his business partner were the new owners of Old Orange Brewing Company. Oh yeah, he did mention that his partner was one of the founders of Shelton Brothers; the importers that bring you great beer and outstanding beer festivals. My interest was slightly piqued; but as I told Joseph, Reseda is kind of a drive from the South Bay. I would “try” to make it out but in my heart, I had a feeling it wasn’t happening because pizza and beer is rarely worth a 60 mile round trip drive in LA traffic. That’s just reality.

Joseph had followed up the telephone call with an email containing a PDF of the craft brews they had on tap. The only ones I was readily familiar with came from Old Orange, and I probably knew more about the brewery than the beer. But I was definitely intrigued, the fact that I would have to look up every beer made me very interested.

I perused the Flame Pizzeria website that listed none of the beers I had been presented but it spoke highly of their chef, Chef Richard Florczak. Chef Richard has been a personal chef for such local celebrities as Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tyson Chandler and Kevin Nealon. Continue reading

Beer Dinner at Jimmy’s Bar & Grill Featuring El Segundo Brewing Company

On the second Wednesday of every month, Jimmy’s Bar & Grill in Redondo Beach holds a beer dinner featuring a specific craft brewery; frequently they pair up with one of our local breweries. Last night the four course meal was paired with fine brews from El Segundo Brewing Company. As I mentioned before, Marc Dix is the chef/partner at Jimmy’s and he is one of the owners of Barley Hops Grill, a popular food truck frequently seen at various tasting rooms; this has enabled Dix to do in-depth research and chose the perfect beer for the dishes he serves. I have the opportunity to attend many beer dinners and I can say without reservation that it would be tough to find anywhere that puts in as much effort and thought as Dix does for the Jimmy’s beer dinners.

While these dinners are four courses, they always start off with a beer to get your taste buds flowing; last night we began with a Citra Pale Ale. The first course was a chicken thigh brined in Mayberry IPA, with a butternut squash, coconut milk puree that was amazing; naturally it was paired with the Mayberry IPA.

The second course consisted of a baby spinach and kale salad with roasted mushrooms and goat cheese with an orange-bacon vinaigrette. The bacon almost made you forget you were eating a salad. This was paired with a Hop Tanker DIPA. Continue reading

A Visit to STACKED Torrance

Regular readers of my site may recall that back in March I visited a STACKED restaurant in Cerritos for a beer tasting put on by Craft Beer Guild Distributing. While we had a very good time exploring the STACKED menu and trying the various craft beers that had been presented, Cerritos is almost 20 miles from my home so the likelihood of my returning just for dinner was not very good. While we were at the Cerritos location I was informed that STACKED has four locations; Cerritos, Thousand Oaks, San Diego and Torrance, which is about five minutes from my home, so I made a mental note to check it out sometime.

As a result of my article the public relations company for STACKED began inviting me to events at their other locations; but as the invites were always to Thousand Oaks or San Diego the distance was just too far to justify the drive. After the last invitation I reminded them that I lived in the South Bay; I was then invited to visit the Torrance location. After a few emails back and forth, I was told to head over to the Torrance location and was given a couple names to ask for when I got there. When we arrived yesterday I found out that the two names were managers at the Cerritos location. This was not a good start.

Tanya and I went outside to decide where we would eat when Ashley Brown, manager for the Torrance STACKED came out and asked what brought us there in the first place. After hearing that there must have been a mix-up somewhere and not wanting to lose the opportunity for some exposure, Brown invited us back in. Continue reading

Smog City Beer Dinner at Jimmy’s Bar & Grill

These photos were taken at the Smog City Beer Dinner which was held Wednesday evening at Jimmy’s Bar & Grill in Redondo Beach. I want to begin this by stating that over the past few years I have attended quite a few beer dinners but I am not sure that I have ever attended one that had such obvious thought put into the pairing of the food and beer as what we experienced last night at Jimmy’s. Marc Dix is the chef/partner at Jimmy’s and he is one of the owners of Barley Hops Grill, a popular food truck frequently seen at various tasting rooms. Regular readers have probably picked up on the fact that I don’t usually pay much attention to the food trucks I run across at various events, preferring to leave the food choices to Tanya. After experiencing our meal last night and speaking with attendees that assured me that Barley Hops Grill is one of the best food trucks in the area, I am sure I will give more input when Tanya asks what I want to eat.

I live around the corner from Jimmy’s and have been here for 30 years, so I have seen lots of businesses come and go from that location. A few years ago a sports bar, 20/20, opened there, but did not last long. We had checked them out as a possible location to have a Business & Beer gathering but were left unimpressed. It was not long before I noticed 20/20 was closed and a lot of remodeling was being done. A short time later, Jimmy’s Bar & Grill was opened. I suppose I was misled by the “bar & grill” portion of Jimmy’s name as I had a preconceived idea that burgers and fries would be the main fare but last night’s menu definitely cleared up any misconceptions I may have had. Continue reading

Flights Beer Bar: Craft Beer for Hawthorne

As I have mentioned before, friends and followers of this site frequently direct me to the latest beer bar that they visited, or that they had heard was opening in the area. I have learned to not bother rushing off because as often as not the selection isn’t really that special or the business is not going to survive the winter. I first heard about Flights Beer Bar in late March or very early April. When I asked my informant what was special about the place they could not tell me as they had yet to visit.

Over the next two months a few more people approached me; some inquiring because they had not been there yet either, and a couple that had made their way over to Hawthorne to check it out. I ended up getting a personal invitation from the owner and another recommendation or two from people that have similar tastes as me, so I decided that I would begin my birthday weekend by going to Flights for a beer and maybe take some photos if it was warranted.

Flights is located at 5119 W. El Segundo Boulevard in Hawthorne, which means it is right off the 405 on the east side of the freeway; it is also on the north side of the street so you need to know it is there or you will do some u-turns to get back there. To make it easy, it is between the Subway and Burger King. The sign is big, but the color scheme isn’t ideal at 12:30 PM. I was told it does light up at night and they have several runway lights above it on the roof. I will have to return at night time to see how visible it is. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tasting at STACKED Cerritos

Last week I was invited to participate in a beer tasting put on by Craft Beer Guild Distributing and hosted by STACKED: Food Well Built in Cerritos. I know that I frequently discuss location when it comes to the invitations I choose to accept and Cerritos isn’t exactly next door, it is a little less than 20 miles from my home, but since Craft Beer Guild Distributing has been on my radar lately I thought we would go ahead and deal with the traffic on the 91. We went last night and in retrospect, I am glad we did.

While I do not usually discuss food on this site, STACKED is different than most gastropubs that I visit. The primary difference is that while the menu is made up primarily of burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and salads, the customer is the one that designs the meal. Virtually every item on the food menu is “build your own.” The brainchild of STACKED co-founder and CEO Paul Montenko, STACKED provides every table with an iPad and a menu that allows you to drop and drag the items you want on your burger or pizza. While Burger King may have been the first to let you “hold the pickles, hold the lettuce” STACKED takes it further by not charging you for the pickles or lettuce you did not ask for and letting you add any of 18 toppings including pastrami, pulled pork or caramelized onions. They have six bun options (one of which is no bun), six cheese options and even eight different types of meat for your patty. After creating your meal you simply hit submit and a few minutes later you start receiving your order. One of the nice things about this is that you can order your drinks, they have a full bar, and have that delivered while you peruse the menu. If you want an appetizer before your meal, order it up on the iPad and it will show up before the main course. It really is pretty cool.

A couple last words on the food: Candied Bacon. Man, oh man, that is some good stuff. As usual, since Tanya and I typically split meals I let her build our burger which brought up another issue: eyes and their relationships to stomachs. It is really easy to build a burger that is bigger than you will ever fit in your mouth. A gentleman at the table next to us did just that; I suspect that after you have been there a couple times you should be able to figure out how to make the perfect burger for yourself. Tanya really enjoys Mac ‘n’ Cheese so she ordered a basic one to check it out; I have to admit it was pretty tasty. Continue reading

O’Flaherty’s Tap House: Rancho Palos Verdes

As this site becomes more popular, I receive more and more recommendations of places I should check out. If it is a craft brewery or brewpub, I am more than happy to make that visit. Probably more often than the brewery suggestions, I am directed to “gastropubs” and craft beer bars that have recently opened or modified their tap list to take advantage of the craft beer craze that has hit the area in the last couple of years. Let there be no mistake, I always appreciate recommendations but, believe it or not, I do not really go to bars very often. I will try to visit every tasting room and brewpub I can get to, but when it comes to craft beer bars the primary consideration is convenience as in it must be close to where I am. In other words, if I am in Alhambra I may hit 38 Degrees but I am not going to drive out to The Valley or downtown LA just to try a bar, no matter what the selection is. As a result, a lot of bar suggestions are not considered due to their locale. I have had times that the place was out of business by the time I got there. On the seemingly rare occasion I am introduced to a true find; O’Flaherty’s Tap Room is one of those, in my opinion.

I was told about O’Flaherty’s by Steve Farguson of Absolution Brewing, back around July. He told me that it was a new place that had an interesting tap list and he felt they deserved some notice. While I was interested, the main downside for me was pretty much the same reason I wanted to visit them in the first place. That reason was location; O’Flaherty’s Tap House is located at the shopping center located at the end of Hawthorne Boulevard at Palos Verdes Drive West. I knew right away that if Flaherty’s was all Farguson said it was, they had a great spot because there is nothing up there with a great tap list. Luckily, I like to go up to Pointe Vicente to try and photograph whales or the waves, so O’Flaherty’s is a nice stop and convenient a few times a year. Continue reading

Hudson House Gastropub in Redondo Beach

I remember the first time we visited Hudson House, a gastropub located in Redondo Beach; it was during American Craft Beer Week in 2012. At the time, the craft beer scene in the South Bay was just getting started or I was just starting to notice it anyway. Since it was the first time that my fiancee Tanya was able to actually join me in my craft beer adventures we had set out to discover as many American craft beers as possible. A search of Google led us to Hudson House, which was described as a gastropub; to be honest, I am not entirely sure I knew the true definition of what a gastropub was. What I did know was that they advertised having more than 50 craft beers available. The downside, at the time, was that of those 50+ brews only four of them were available on draught.

We did return about a year later because it was close to somewhere we had to be and Tanya had enjoyed their burgers. I honestly don’t recall a lot about the visit other than I had been able to buy a bottle of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA and I was not impressed by our dessert choice, their version of bread pudding; a chocolate banana croissant pudding. Be that as it may, we decided to revisit Hudson House on Monday evening. What a difference a couple of years make. Continue reading

Barbara’s at the Brewery

My daughter wanted to take me out to lunch this past Sunday, specifically somewhere I had not yet visited. As she rattled off the various craft breweries and gastropubs that were midway between where she lives and me it was discovered that I had visited each of them. She then mentioned Bonaventure Brewing in downtown Los Angeles. I had been meaning to stop by there for a while, so we decided to meet there for lunch. Unfortunately, it never dawned on me that they would not open until 4:00 PM, so we arrived at The Bonaventure a couple hours before the brewery opened and the hotel’s cocktail lounge did not even sell the beer brewed on premise. This was not what I wanted to hear. As we were meeting my daughter there we had to find a quick substitute before she went through the trouble and expense of dealing with the valet. Tanya got on her iPhone to query Google and started looking for brewpubs in the downtown LA vicinity; the closest to us was Barbara’s at the Brewery. I had heard of the place but had never been there so it sounded like the place to be.

As we passed Union Station and Olvera Street I mentioned that Barbara’s must be part of Angel City Brewery; I have only been there once and I recalled that it was a pretty large facility so it was entirely possible that I had missed something. As we pulled up to Barbara’s I quickly realized that this was not associated with Angel City; but it sure did not look like they had room for a brewery either. There was a large smokestack that had “BREWERY” painted on it which did nothing to ease my confusion. When I walked in it quickly became evident that Google had misled me once again.

Barbara’s at the Brewery is not a brewpub, I am not even sure I would classify it as a gastropub either; it is a restaurant that serves craft beer. I asked our server what the deal was with the brewery smokestack and the “at the Brewery” in their name and was informed that the complex they are located in used to be a Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery many years ago. She thought that it may have been a brewery for someone else before PBR brewed there. The complex itself is called “The Brewery” and is now probably best described as an art colony, with Barbara’s being the location for food and drink. Continue reading

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