MB Post in Manhattan Beach Kiiiind of Blows My Mind

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When it comes to dining in Los Angeles, I more or less stick to a grid that spans from West Hollywood to Downtown (with many stops in Koreatown in between). It’s not often that I head west to Brentwood or Santa Monica, and it’s even rarer that I head off to the South Bay, a region of beach communities including Manhattan, Hermosa, and Redondo Beaches, among others. That may all be changing very soon though thanks to my first glorious dinner at MB Post, a relatively new restaurant (or “Social House,” as it bills itself) in Manhattan Beach. I’m not saying that I’m going to become a regular on the South Bay dining scene, but I may just need to make regular trips for the bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits alone.

Yes, they’re as good as they sounds.

My friend Esi from Dishing Up Delights and I both trekked down to MB Post earlier this week for a media-comped meal, and quite frankly, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that chef David LeFevre hailed from Los Angeles’s prestigious Water Grill, which meant that we were in for good eats, but I had no idea just how good.

This is when I shut up and let the pictures do the talking. Well, and captions too.

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A look inside the kitchen. That’s Chef LeFevre in the cap.

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The place was totally packed. Here are patrons sitting at a communal table.

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The bar also attracts a rather healthy crowd.

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As MB Post exists in a former post office, the menus amusingly arrive in an envelope. The lack of a surly woman named Latisse reminds us that we are not in fact in the presence of the USPS.

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The envelope even comes personalized, and as I am the MAN of the table, it comes addressed to me. Sorry, Esi.

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Because the restaurant is so busy, we have to spend a few minutes at the bar. The hand-crafted cocktail menu has me foaming at the mouth, and ultimately I choose this lovely concoction: the Mo-Pho-Jito. It’s a mojito with star anise, kaffir lime, mint, ginger, and coriander honey. In the wrong hands this drink would be overly sweet and annoying. Thankfully, the Mo-Pho-Jito is instead well balanced and totally refreshing. Bonus points for an awesomely cool glass.

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At last it’s time to extract the menus from the envelope.

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Things start in earnest with a sizable bread and charcuterie course. It’s daunting to say the least.

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Let me guide you through this first wooden block of offerings (labeled “A Lil’ Sumin’ Sumin'” on the menu). On the left we have two types of fresh bread, both lovely. Then we have three jams: rhubarb (great), apple-fennel (lovely), and plum-thyme (divine). Next we have three honeys: chestnut (charming), truffle (I DIE), and straight-up honeycomb (do I lose cred if I say “yummy”?). Then we have mustards: redwine (very good), pink peppercorn (my favorite of the three), and stout (also very good). THEN we have marinated olives in one jar and pickles in another. Needless to say, there was plenty of dipping and nibbling here.

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Cutting board #2: aside from the dollop of “David’s nuclear horseradish mustard” (my favorite of all the mustards) and more plum-thyme jam, we also have 12-month aged jamon serrano, picante salami, Marcona almonds, a cheese that I regrettably don’t remember but loved dearly, some apple slices, and Mycella Blue, which was apparently voted the best bleu in the world. I’m happy to report that these were all great, especially when combined with the honeys, jams, and mustards on the other cutting board.

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And now the last cutting board. We’re still on our first course, mind you. On the upper left we have a fleur de del pretzel roll, which when dipped in the horseradish mustard made my mouth sing. Below it, we have a grilled flatbread/naan that also elicited various moans of delight. It came with a wonderful harissa yogurt sauce. And then finally, we have the aforementioned cheddar buttermilk biscuits and a maple butter. Let’s just take a moment here:

So here’s the thing. Some of you may know that I have a special place in my heart for Red Lobster. And in that special place dedicated to ReLobs (my new slang name for it), I have an even more special place dedicated to the cheesy biscuits served at that fine establishment. They alone are almost worth any trip to Red Lobster.

WELL. Imagine the best Red Lobster cheesy biscuit, and now imagine it RE-imagined in the hands of a great chef. Welcome to MB Post’s bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuit. These things are worth the drive alone. They are a destination biscuit. And ain’t no biscuit like a destination biscuit. Shall I describe how it tastes? I’ll take that as a yes.

Biting into the bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuit, a.k.a the BCBB, is a generally orgasmic experience. The outside is crisp and crunchy, but the inside is soft and pillowy and full of cheesy glory. The flavors are strong and intense: there’s definitely bacon present. But we gots the cheddar too and some solid chive action no less. It’s definitely swoon-worthy.

The trick is the bacon fat. Chef LeFevre later explained to us that the kitchen renders out bacon fat and then uses that very same fat to coat each precious biscuit before they’re baked. Thanks to that sheen of cholesterol, the biscuits crisp up, and not only that, they’re infused with intense bacon flavor.

So yes, I kind of liked them.

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The second course begins with a pomegranate couscous, replete with lavender feta, marcona almonds, mixed melon, and mint. Every course had a standout dish or two, and this was the star of this round. Bright, bold, and zingy — this was some killer couscous. The textures and flavors had us oohing and ahhing.

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I believe this is the Australian hiramasa, served with puffed forbidden rice. It’s light and refreshing. We really enjoyed this polite offering, but it was overshadowed by some of the more assertive dishes on the table.

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One such assertive dish is this marinated cucumber plate. It may sound basic, but these cucumbers (as well as the tomatoes, the avocadoes, and the shishito peppers, among others) are farm EFFIN fresh. Each bite was like a flavor bomb, especially the tomatoes which had my eyes widening thanks to their sweet zinginess.

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Cocktail break: a Southern Hospitality arrives. It’s “punch” with Eagle Rare bourbon, grilled peach, cinnamon, and charred white oak. I don’t really like peach; so I refrain, but everyone else likes this very much.

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I opt for the Manhattan Avenue, which is a regular Manhattan with Buffalo Trace, vanilla, caramel, and bacon dust. The last three ingredients intrigue me, but I fear this will be a sweet, regrettable decision.

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Okay, real talk (as they say): this was delicious. The Manhattan Avenue was not sweet at all. In fact, I’m not really one to drink Manhattans anyway, but I could have sipped two or three of these down all night. Even better, the bacon dust has a very light presence — not too over-the-top, and with only half the rim dusted, we have sipping options. Once again, great restraint on the part of the bar.

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Course three begins with Blistering Blue Lake Green Beans, which are served with thai basil, chili sauce, and crispy pork. I’m not even a huge green bean fan, and these were absolutely amazing. The texture was right on, and the flavor was once again bold, in-your-face, and perfectly balanced. Definitely the star of this course, surprisingly.

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Steamed mussels in green curry with Chinese sausage and coriander rice. First off, I loved the cast iron pot these mollusks arrived in (with its lid on, the whole thing looked like a giant mussel — so meta). I also enjoyed the presence of sticky rice, and most of all, I loved the green curry, which was rich and full of flavor. A recurring theme, I’ve noticed…

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I am a soft-shell crab fiend, and this one, which came with Singapore chili sauce, grapefruit, apple, and coriander puree, had me over the moon. Another star of this course.

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Thanks to the flashiness of the other dishes, we kept overlooking this humble escolar, served with a summer vinaigrette, basil, and kalamata olives, among other things. Truth be told, this fish was the sleeper dish of the course. It was perfectly (let me put that in italics to emphasize it: perfectly) cooked, and the bright, intense Mediterranean flavors were a great counterpoint to the more Asian leanings of the other dishes. Yes, we repeatedly reached for the mussels, crab, and green beans instead of this one, but every time we returned to the escolar, we couldn’t understand why we hadn’t devoured it already. User error, clearly.

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By the time the third course ended, we were feeling rather full. Oh well. Here comes course four, starting with this confit pork belly, lemon braised Swiss chard, and corn agnalotti. I had mixed reactions to this dish. The pork, while flavorful, was a little on the dry side. The agnalotti, however, were incredible. Big flavors. HUGE. And the Swiss chard was a perfect match. Overall, this was the least successful dish of the night in that it was merely quite good. (I’m still dreaming about the agnalotti though.)

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Some of my finest photography. The blurriness is an artistic touch, naturally. Anyway, this here is braised lamb neck, summer squash, crispy gnocchi, and Bianco Sardo. A very tasty dish. Not amazing, but still super tasty. I loved the crispy texture on the gnocci. Sadly, I was reaching capacity, and probably the last thing I could stomach was gnocchi. Somehow, I gladly made room…

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Oh. Mah. Gah. Grilled sweet corn, roasted chiles, Fontina, bacon, and polenta. I don’t know how much longer this item will be available on the menu as corn season is wrapping up, but if it’s available, order it. Don’t question it. Don’t deny it. Don’t delay it. Just assume that this will be one of the dishes you order. It’s that good. Fast forward to the end of the night: the restaurant was kind enough to wrap up all our leftovers. Esi and I divvied up the boxes randomly and went our separate ways. I nearly wept the next day when I discovered I had scored the corn leftovers. Major win. (Esi box selection FAIL)

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Our waiter announced that this Meyers Farm ‘Never Ever’ skirt steak with grilled broccolini and red chimichurri was his favorite item on the menu. It did not disappoint. Another standout for this course. The chimichurri took me to a happy place (and also reinforced the global, around-the-world menu theme).

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The famous Fee Fi Fo Fum fries, named for their giant size. These bad boys were crispy and fun. I only wish I hadn’t been so full. I only managed to get through one.

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The fries come with both a ketchup and a house sauce whose ingredients are shrouded in secrecy. It’s quite lovely, made more so by the intrigue.

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Finally, dessert. This here is The Elvis, which consists of chocolate pudding, peanut butter mousse, and bacon brittle. It was a whole lot of yes. Incidentally, I should note that bacon creeps into many of the dishes at MB Post, but it’s never gimmicky and always tastefully done.

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Lemon ricotta cheesecake, served in a jar. Like many dishes that evening, the presentation is clever and fun without being annoying.

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Sadly, I really don’t like peach; so I abstain from this dessert.

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Lastly, a strawberry shortcake. I also skip this dish, thanks to my debilitating hatred of berries. I really need to get over that.

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Um, I’ll be going back.

As you can probably discern, I loved MB Post. Nearly every aspect of the meal excited me. I loved the vibe of the crowd, I loved the look of the restaurant (exposed wooden beams = joy), I loved the size of the menu (big but not overwhelming), I loved the variety of dishes, I loved the quality of the food, I loved the presentation of the food, and I loved the taste of the food. I think this qualifies as an unmitigated rave.

And did I mention the price point? The most expensive item is $17. Everything else falls in the $8 – $15 range, with many options on the lower end of that scale.

Additionally, it appears as though the menu changes day to day depending on what’s fresh at the market. There’s a good chance that several of the dishes described here may no longer be available. But that’s okay: I am certain that Chef LeFevre will do wonders with whatever fresh ingredients he finds. As he told us after the meal, his goal has not been to serve up subtle bites but rather big, bold flavors — the kind that make diners say “WOW” and then perhaps have a Bugs Bunny eye-bulging moment. I can assure you he succeeded massively on that front.

MB Post
1142 Manhattan Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
310-545-5405
eatMBPost.com

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5 thoughts on “MB Post in Manhattan Beach Kiiiind of Blows My Mind

  1. Ok fine, I didn’t get the corn and green bean leftovers, but I did get the couscous and steak. I say we both won!

  2. What can I say? MB Post saved the South Bay from a gastronomical wasteland. Chef DL knows how to please and delivers! I want lamb neck and give a round of beer to the kitchen!!

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