124 Manhattan Beach Blvd
Visited on February 6, 2009
I was in Los Angeles for less than 48 hours once after a long 20+ hour drive in a cramped car with five other guys. You know I managed to find a brewpub in SoCal nonetheless.
Manhattan Beach Brewing was less than impressive to my taste buds. The beer was less than memorable although the menu featured outstandingly fresh and delicious fish. If the service hadn’t sucked so badly, the score might have ended up better.
Located mere miles from LAX and downtown L.A. on the coast, Manhattan Beach Brewing has none of the high-class snobbery you might expect from the neighborhood it sits in. The building is wooden and unassuming. The interior is sparse and decorated by not much more than the rows of booths and the glittering silver of the long line of fermenters directly behind the bar. I hear you can see the ocean from the roof, but it was raining when I visited, and I did not get to check it out. However, a high score for authenticity.
The food is why you should come. It was outstanding. Being on the beach with access to fresh fish, the fish tacos were simply perfect, or so I was told by a fish-snob friend who grew up on the Washington coast north of Seattle. The chili was obviously hand-crafted with a delightful consistency and texture. My lamb sandwich was nothing more than gyro ingredients stacked on pita bread with a lamb patty that lacked thickness. It was tasty, but could have been more tasty with more meat. My favorite part of a gyro is the meat flavor, so the ratio of meet to everything else needs to be high. The best part of the meal was the sweet potato fries. Absolutely loved them. Some of the best I’ve ever had, and I get them everywhere I go.
The beer was mostly thin and bland. Not undrinkable, but certainly not good. There were two that were quaffable: the red ale and the porter. If cheap enough, I would drink them consistently if at the brewpub. If anywhere else, or if of equal price, I would order a quality bottled beer or guest draught.
The service started off great with a resounding offering suggestions for dinner, each of which turned out quite well. However, it quickly deteriorated when she did not initially split up our checks. After asking if we could split it, she instructed us all to write down what we had to eat on the back of the receipt with our names. Apparently she also asked us to tally our total and write it as well, but we didn’t hear her. A half hour later, the bill was split, and we could leave.