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Let’s Talk “The Arthur J” Manhattan Beach

Let’s Talk Home Run,

It is with a heart filled with gratitude, excitement, and culinary enthusiasm that I write about the soft opening at the Arthur J restaurant in Manhattan Beach.

Saturday night at 5:30 my husband and I and two friends were invited to dine at the Arthur J prior to the main opening  Tuesday night.

I had been been looking forward to David’s third adventure with Jerry Garbus at his side, for months, and I could wait no longer.

We got there early to take it all in. The exterior, the bar, the dining room, the shinny excited looks on the staff’s well prepared faces.

So there we were, flanked by Chef David who seemed uncharacteristically nervous and jittery. Yet everything gleamed from the flatware to the place settings to the white teeth on the staff’s anticipation filled smiles.

The cocktail menu was varied and creative. I tried the Peruvian contraband. It was served up with a flourish and had extreme flavors that tickled the senses, amused my taste buds and had my heart doing somersaults. Can you tell how thrilled I was?

Our friends arrived and we were taken to our sumptuous booth which was reminiscent of just how lovely old-school dining really is.

I breathed everything in. The fantastically subdued music, not vying for attention with our dinner guests conversations, the knives which of course are a crucial element at a steak restaurant, the wine glasses and the overall atmosphere. The Decor was perfect.

As guests there was a planned menu with selections. After some arm wrestling at our table we decided to have the popovers, shrimp cocktail, the cannelloni, a bone in ribeye, a T-bone, and a little fillet mignon. For sides we had mashed potatoes,  creamed spinach. Dessert was ever present on my mind and it took mediation, and some light couples therapy, but we in the end we chose the banana dessert unanimously.

Our Argentinian wine connoisseur friend was at the helm for the wine menu. And we had two lovely bottles. The wine list is extensive and impressive.

The menu selection  mirrored and evoked happy  memories of a dining time gone by.

The popovers. They were perfection. They were light, airy and the cheese pairing inside the popover was not overpowering, it was delicate, fragrant and flavorful. The experience, from the very first bite took me back to happy childhood days having popovers with my mother, and also delicious memories of Yorkshire pudding. It was a combination of both genres.

The  shrimp in their cocktail were humongous Amazon sized shrimp. They were tender, rich, with salty brine notes and basically incredible.

The cannelloni, which were stuffed with mushrooms, were ethereal. The pasta was as light as angels eyelashes, the sauce like a gossamer shawl wrapped around my palate. Oohing an awe’ing emanated from our table. My husband tried to stab my hand with his fork when I angled for the last bite, but being younger and swifter I prevailed!

Now onto the  fire grilled meat. I can only comment on the bone in ribeye that I shared with our friend Claudio. It was so fantastic I’m having a hard time finding the words to describe it. Hints of smoke, but in the background, not overpowering. The flavor of the meat was the forward flavor. Simplicity is one main descriptors I would use. Tender, but enough body to allow the teeth and tongue to linger and release the fleshy goodness.

I didn’t get a chance to taste the T-bone, or the petite filet because I was intently focused on the bone in ribeye I could think of nothing else.

The mashed potatoes, in all of their creamy perfect deliciousness were just a distraction to my main attention.

The conversation and wine flowed. I watched familiar and envious faces come in, admire the restaurant and ask to be seated, alas non. Not tonight!

Dessert and coffee came and the banana creation was delicious, creamy, and thankfully not overly banana-y.

If I had to dig deep down into my soul and try to find one note of positive criticism because this was a trial run for David and Jerry, the only comment would be that the banana dessert could possibly have a different presentation. I know it’s a small observation but that’s all I can come up with!!!!

We were part of the first service and not wanting to over stay our welcome my husband let it be known  it was time to depart. I however, did not want to leave. I forced myself to psychological detach from the event,  from the evening. I have phantom burn marks on my legs from my husband prying me out of the booth!

On the way out I had one last treat, I had the honor to meet Jerry’s parents and tell them what a wonderfully beautiful person their son is.

The night was young, my heart was young, but the rest of me was pretty tired so we went home discussing each and every mouthful Needless to say, the conversation was dominated by our amazing meal.

Thank you David, thank you Jerry, thank you Ryan, thank you all the staff of the Arthur J