Bikinis and beach volleyball in January? Manhattan Beach was fortunate to see 80 degree weather recently and while you might not always see that type of heat wave in winter, you don’t need that temperature to have a great time. You will always find that the beach, the glorious sunsets and the trio of the Shade Hotel, Rock’n Fish and the Strand House make this a memorable destination.
Whether you are on a vacation or you live in the Los Angeles area and want to do a staycation, the Shade Hotel is the destination to put you in full relaxation mode. The bonus, if you live near Shade and want to get away for a few days, is all that travel money you can spend at the countless cute shops that litter Manhattan Beach.
To make sure that you have the ultimate Manhattan Beach experience, owner Michael Zislis created his own triumphant trio right on the beach. The Shade Hotel, an experience all by itself, Rock’n Fish, a restaurant that encompasses all that is Manhattan Beach, and finally the jewel of the group, the Strand House. Simply put this is one of the premiere restaurant destinations in all of Southern California; just make sure to make a reservation.
When they came up with the term “boutique hotel” I think they might have very well been sitting in a room at the Shade Hotel. This hotel oozes class and style from the moment you walk through the front doors. The Zinc lounge stares you right in the face as you make your way into Shade, and this is anything but your typical hotel lounge, but we’ll get to this later. The hotel itself does everything it can to take in that fresh beach air and sunshine. The walkway to each room is actually within the confines of the hotel but in an open-air setting, and the rooms have their own balcony, allowing you to relax and take in the Manhattan Beach scenery. Don’t limit yourself to the view from the balcony; one of my favorite parts of Shade is they have complimentary beach cruisers for you to use. There is nothing like jumping on a bike and exploring the beach and all that Manhattan Beach has to offer.
Once your day is complete you will find that there is nothing more relaxing than a room at the Shade Hotel. A day vacationing can always leave you a little more tired than your actual job sometimes, and the Shade Hotel makes sure that when you wake up you will be ready to start a new adventure. The bed itself will make you never want to get up. If I was in advertising I would use the Shade Hotel as the example of why to use a Tempur-Pedic™ bed. Combining this bed with the Mascioni™ linens, you literally feel as if you are sleeping on a cloud. To take your in-room experience to an even higher level, you will find a chromatherapy lighting system and the oh so cool Heat & Glo™ Cyclone Fireplaces. If you are really in the mood to relax, hop in your private Sanijet™ two-person spa tub. Take full advantage of this! I’ll just say this, wait till the end of the day to get to your room, because once you are in it, you may never want to leave.
The Shade kitchen is run by Executive Chef Greg Hozinsky, who crafted his trade in San Francisco, taking full advantage of being immersed in the culinary hot spot of the United States. Greg has taken some of the things he learned, blended them with his own creativity and then put to great use great local ingredients to craft a unique menu. The Zinc lounge, located right at the foot of the entrance of Shade, begins the day as a great place to enjoy the beach weather for breakfast on their patio, then take in lunch while watching some sports on TV, and finally, when evening hits you can dine, drink and later dance into the late hours of the night. While Zinc is as upscale of a lounge as you will find, the food that Greg created for Zinc is not in the same dictionary as lounge. The truffle short rib sandwiches are so good you are going to find yourself heading back to Zinc just to grab these anytime you are in Manhattan Beach. The rich flavor of the short rib is complimented nicely by the hint of truffle from the white truffle oil, but what really sets this apart is the honey and coleslaw. This combination of sweet and crunchy makes for a perfect compliment to the tender short rib. Make sure you also try one of the subzero martinis while you are at Zinc. It is not very often you are going to have a drink served up in a glass made of ice; I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a cocktail.
Just a short walk down the road you will find Rock’n Fish and the Strand House. There is definitely no need for a car once you check into Shade, and the great part of the walk to these restaurants is that it is downhill and into the scenic view of the Pacific Ocean.
Rock’n Fish moved into the home of what was a Manhattan Beach favorite, Hibachi Restaurant. While Michael has made many changes over the years since he has moved in, including a recent facelift to kick off 2012, he has kept several of the original menu items from Hibachi so that customers will always feel at home when they visit Rock’n Fish. The classics are just the start. Rock’n Fish has a seemingly endless menu, ranging from the freshest fish around to sandwiches that are so big and flavorful calling them a sandwich is almost a sin. When you mention Rock’n Fish to anyone who has been there before you will inevitably hear them say, “You must try the oak grilled artichoke.” When you hear something recommended that often, my advice is give it a try; in this case I’d have to say it is a great tip. The combination of steaming the artichoke and placing it on the grill somehow creates a multitude of flavors. You first bite is smoky, a little crisp and then you find your way into that soft and succulent heart that is bursting with garlic. This alone makes the trip worthwhile.
If you are not familiar with the breathtaking Strand House restaurant, I just have to ask: where have you been? Since opening in 2011, the Strand House has quickly become one of the hot spots on the West Coast. Of course if you are on a vacation in Manhattan Beach you will make plans for dining and more, but you will also have to compete with the Los Angeles crowd, because this is one restaurant that is worth the drive. For an in depth look at the Strand House, visit: http://tinyurl.com/42sfx6s
All three locations have an enticing drink menu, offering a wide variety of specialty cocktails and a wine list that will make any sommelier jealous. Luckily for anyone who steps into these restaurants, Michael shares his love of wine with all of his patrons by making sure that he not only has the finest wines available, but offers choices that you likely have not heard of; and the best part is that he has priced all his wine in such a way you will find it to be an incredible value over almost any other restaurant. If you happen to find Michael in the restaurant you are dining at, let him know what you ordered and he will pair up your dinner with the perfectly matched wine.
While each of these three locations is going to provide you with their own setting and characteristics, the one thing that you will find consistent is the service. It does not matter if it is the front desk staff, the wait staff, or management, each and every person knows the intricacies of not only their job, but also of Manhattan Beach, and they have this amazing ability to make you feel as if you are the only person in the room.
Southern California can make you very spoiled—beaches galore, sun and fun along with a never ending list of things you can do. The one thing that Michael Zislis did with his Manhattan Beach creations was make you remember why you can’t help but love the beach and he will make you want to make sure you never forget.
For more information on the Shade Hotel, visit: www.shadehotel.com
For more information on Rock’n Fish, visit: www.ROCKNFISHMB.com