The Rockefeller is exactly what you’d expect to find in a beachside gastropub, making a pleasant addition to both Hermosa and Manhattan Beach. Intriguing spins on American comfort classics, a rustic feel with a beachy undertone, and a price point that reminds you it’s a special occasion without breaking the bank. From the plaid-clad friendly service staff to the fun list of beers both on tap and incorporated in the menu, The Rockefeller beckons for the energetic crowd that pours in through its doors.
The Rockefeller’s largely classic American selections embrace touches from Italy, South of the Border and the Far East. The appetizer selections embody this trait more than anywhere else on the menu. The allagash queso, for instance, which has all the elements of the Tex-Mex favorite but goes a step further with added chorizo for a pleasantly smoky character. The truffle mac ‘n’ cheese is a heavenly, creamy compilation with bacon in tow. Add meatballs, flatbreads and ceviche to the mix and you still don’t have the full list of options available.
Burgers are certainly the focal point here, and at that epicenter is the Rockefeller burger, the restaurant’s luxurious namesake with ‘wagyu’ beef, truffle bacon jam, taleggio and garlic aioli for a rich, hearty finish. The everyday diner can still relish in the basics, however, with the American prime burger being an excellent [and economic] option. The Rockefeller gets a slap on the wrist for charging extra for fries, but at least the fries come out in heaping portions meant for sharing.
Sadly the rest of the menu doesn’t live up to the level set by apps and burgers. Tacos leave a lot to be desired in both flavor and portion size, as does the lobster stuffed avocado, which doesn’t contain enough seafood to be worthwhile. Dessert falls short, and while the beer list is robust, the housemade Rockefeller blonde doesn’t hold the character desired from a craft brew.
Back to the upside, though, it’s nice to find a higher-end gastropub with entrees starting at $11.
The Rockefeller has locations in Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach. Hours vary, but each location is open for dinner Mon – Thurs and for brunch, lunch and dinner Fri – Sun. Average out-the-door price for split appetizer, entrée, split side and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$50/person. For more information visit The Rockefeller online.
Ayara Lük, the full-service ‘pop-up’ concept for Ayara Thai, which is currently under renovation until late 2017, is way more than a filler during the remodel. Ayara Lük [lük means ‘child’ in Thai] not only serves up many of the renowned family recipes that have made Ayara Thai one of LA’s premiere foodie destinations, but has established itself as the R&D kitchen for the family to test out new flavors and concepts. Foodies, you’re in for a Far East treat.
The menu may only cover one page, but everything is prepared with authentic, organic ingredients and fine execution. Start off with the rustic tom yum soup, which feels like a spa treatment for your mouth with fresh lemongrass, kaffir lime and oyster mushrooms. Move on to the signature pad thai Lük with lobster tail and crab, which boasts heaping portions of each delicacy, or the drunken noodles, with equally bold, albeit intrinsically different character.
Curry is a must, of course, and you really can’t go wrong here. The interesting theme that runs through Ayara Lük’s curries is a sense of decadence that doesn’t often come in Thai food—the curries here are thicker and richer, especially when melded with meats that span far beyond the traditional options at other thai establishments. The short rib green curry, mild in color but nearly alfredo-like in consistency, is a true standout, followed by the equally new-age khao soi chicken noodle and lamb panang curries.
A fun drink menu includes wine, Thai beers and of course delicious Thai iced tea. If you’re somehow still hungry and want to end on a sweet note, the coconut ice cream tacos round out a novel evening.
Located along a nondescript stretch of Sepulveda just north of LAX, Ayara Lük plays home to a modern, expansive atmosphere with an open-air kitchen that may or may not allude to some of the changes we expect to see in the new Ayara Thai. That re-opening is highly anticipated, and there’s a chance that both restaurants may serve side-by-side. In any case, this family-owned legacy is bound for great success moving forward.
Ayara Lük is located at 8740 South Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90045. Average out-the-door price for split appetizer, entrée and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$50/person. For more information call (310) 881-4498 or visit Ayara Lük online.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.