Sunday, September 1, 2013

What a blast

Red snapper, ready for dinner
 Fishing With Dynamite is a new seafood joint in Manhattan Beach - and it's just what you want when you go visit a seaside town.

Launched by Chef David Lefevre, who also runs Manhattan Beach Post nearby, it's a tiny place; so compact that the only seats we could find were two tall stools at the narrow raw bar. But they were Eames DSR barstools - supremely comfortable for the two hours of self-indulgent dining we were about to undergo.

Oysters, of course! Fishing With Dynamite offers six different varieties of oysters, and this weekend there were bivalves from New Zealand, Maine, Prince Edward Island, and New York. We were a little disappointed there were no Pacific Northwest oysters, but the New Zealand Coromandels were so plump and meaty they made up for it.

It's not very common to see scallops on a raw bar menu - but these Peruvian scallops were so good I hope we'll start seeing more of them. Served with a chunk of grapefruit, a drizzle of ponzu, a leaf of cilantro and sea salt, they were sweet and delicious, the flavors mingling like magic. And they're priced cheaper than the oysters - think about that!

The nice thing about sitting at the raw bar is that you can watch the kitchen staff shucking the shellfish. And at Fishing With Dynamite, it's impressive to see the practiced ease and the care they take to present each oyster perfectly - fully separated from the shell, free from any grit or fragments, bathed in cool clean oyster liquor.

I'd come out with a craving for Dungeness crab, and we were just waiting for our next platter to come out of the kitchen when the manager brought out a steel bowl with some live Santa Barbara spot prawn. He toured the dining room, showing them off. I couldn't resist a photo - and we couldn't resist ordering some.

Dungeness crab and shrimp

Our platter of crab and shrimp arrived, and we were dismayed. What had we done? Could we eat all of this? We had our work cut out for us!

Slow and steady does the trick. We settled in with our cocktail forks and crackers. There were three sauces served with the shellfish - a good cocktail sauce, horseradish, and a nice dill-flecked remoulade. The crab was freshly steamed and sweet, and the shrimp were plump and perfectly cooked. I delightedly splashed about in crab juices until it was all gone.

His birthday being imminent, [The Man I Love] indulged himself, and chose a French white wine, a Santenay Passetemps from the Cote d'Or. It was a marvel, complex and almost flowery, golden in the rays of the now-lowering sun that slanted in the door from the beach.

The spot prawns returned, this time split and broiled. The dark red coral, or roe, was smoky and popped to the bite.

We were finally full - and lucky too, because the manager brought another temptation around the dining room, this time a quartet of whole pink snapper, fresh and beautiful.

We finished with a salad of heirloom tomatoes and burrata - soft, meltingly good fresh mozzarella-like cheese. It was a perfect palate-cleanser.

Although we enjoyed ourselves immensely, I'd caution you from taking this as a "review" of Chef Lefevre's cooking. The menu includes what he calls "old school" seafood cookery, like chowder and crab cakes, and "new school" - fish cooked with Asian flavors like miso and Thai spices. But our meal was so elemental - just the seafood, raw or steamed or broiled without anything fancy to mask the exquisite freshness - that I'll have to come back sometime to taste the Chef's cooking.

We walked off our meal with a stroll on the beach. What a perfect day!

Fishing With Dynamite is one of a few new seafood places that have opened lately in Los Angeles. We've got our work cut out for us!


Susan B said...

Ohhhh, Santa Barbara spot's been a while since I've tasted that sweet and succulent variety.

smalltownme said...

oh my, oh my, oh my. Perfect is right!

cookingwithgas said...

I love the name and here in nc I have witnessed such foolishness.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I'm drooling over the scallops with grapefruit... and the shrimp!

Mrs. G. said...

Caitie and I drove through Manhattan Beach on our way to Hermosa. I wish we had stopped there. Have mercy!