Restaurateur Michael Zislis waited decades for his dream spot on Manhattan Beach and when his wish was finally granted, he made sure he took full advantage of it by creating the stunning The Strand House restaurant.
Food aside, and we will get to the menu later, a visit to The Strand House is a must visit just to take in the view overlooking Manhattan Beach as well as the incredible design. Whether you are hip, cool or trendy or if you aren’t any of above, when you leave The Strand House you will feel as if you are all of those, the setting has that type of power on a person. Each of the four levels has its own unique setting and while you will thoroughly enjoy wherever you are at, you won’t help but have a little bit of yearning to be on one of the other levels.
Where to begin when it comes to the menu? Instead of actually starting off with food, the focus has to be on the flavor and uniqueness that makes up this menu and it begins with the collaboration between consulting chef Neal Fraser and executive chef Travis Lorton. The two chefs focus on finding fresh and local ingredients, which really makes a difference that you can taste in all of their dishes. Beyond the fresh ingredients, it is how they incorporate them into the dishes that will leave you asking yourself what was that extra little flavor sprinkled in that you might know what it is but really took your dish to that next level.
Let's get to the main course, which with this restaurant being located on the beach would leave you longing for some amazing fish, which The Strand House delivers. From his history working in the restaurant business Michael has relationships with some great fish importers, so he is always able to provide the freshest in season fish you will find anywhere. Don't limit yourself to fish as there are plenty of other great options and the one I would start with is the grilled prime hanger steak. Grilled to perfection, this steak was full of flavor with a combination of onions, watercress gremolata and capers. Some of the other great options include the spit roasted suckling pig, the grilled rack of lamb and don't forget the amazing wood-fired pizza. To pair with all of this incredible food, Michael has put together a great assortment of wine, that for the value will be hard to match anywhere.
The side dishes are plentiful and flavorful as you will be able to tell by the creativity in the ingredients that are so good they we should come with a name other than sides to give them their just due. The stuffed Anaheim chiles with goat cheese and tomatillo salsa are not for the faint of heart, this dish is all about heat. I was expecting hot, but my mouth got a little more than it bargained for, but what a quandry, too hot for me to handle, but too good to stop eating. The other dish I would recommend would be the roasted Brussels sprouts. They are prepared with brown butter, maple and caraway seed, and interesting blend without question. Brussels sprouts can be a tough vegetable to get right, but roasted they were cooked to perfection and the sweetness really brought them to life.
The wine list is impeccable, but don’t be afraid to grab yourself a cocktail as they are as tasty and creative as anything on the menu. The name itself says try me, but the Sunset over Manhattan Beach is more than just a drink, it truly the essence of The Strand House. Almost too beautiful to drink, you will be glad you did with the mixture of vodka, tangerine juice and blook orange cordial makes for a smooth and subtle sweet drink that is perfect for any meal. Pastry chef Seth Caro, formerly a contestant on “Top Chef: Just Desserts,” stepped out of the kitchen to use his creativity in putting together the unique cocktail menu. Seth did not spend all his time on cocktails, as his desserts are full of flavor and the only way to end a fabulous evening at The Strand House. The butterscotch doughnuts are a true delicacy, warm with the butterscotch waiting to ooze out of the center, they are topped with powdered bacon and burnt peach jelly to give this treat and nice blend of flavors.
The Strand House did not take long to become a hot spot on Manhattan Beach but this is one restaurant where waiting for your table is not a bad thing, in fact you might just prefer a little wait. The Strand House has added an amazing 24 bottle wine dispensing system in the waiting area. You can purchase a prepaid card and then you insert your card and you can try as many wines as you want, from a sample to a full glass if you find a wine you really love. These are not wines on the menu, but Michael thought it would be a great way for people to try out some wines that they might not ever experience and for two dollars for a sample, that is a fantastic deal.
From the moment you enter The Strand House you will find the service to be flawless, even with a packed restaurant. You never will find yourself looking for your server and the knowledge of the menu that the staff has will put you at ease if you have any questions. It is hard to hit the trifecta, but The Strand House managed to reach the highest levels with their ambiance, service and food.
If you live near Manhattan Beach consider yourself lucky that a restaurant such as The Strand House has washed up on your shores. If you aren’t as fortunate it will be worth whatever drive you have to take to visit The Strand House as it pairs as perfectly with the beach as does
For more information on The Strand House, visit: http://www.thestrandhousemb.com/
Photos by Daniel Hennessy