1138 Highland Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
I've come to the conclusion that if I had to live anywhere in LA county, one of the spots at the top of my list would have to be Manhattan Beach. I'm sure parking is awful here, and the crowds during the summer months would get on my nerves, but this area seems so much like OC's own, Newport Beach. There's a vibrant bar scene from everything I have seen on our few visits to this South Bay city. Then there's also plenty of restaurants, which of course piques my interest in an area.
Of course we were up this way to take our good friends Chuck and Stephanie to LAX, for one of their, what seems like 30 trips, back to North Carolina. This trip was a little different because good old Chuck had scheduled a Friday night flight out of LAX, so that meant we had to leave OC around 6pm, just to have a little time to make it up this way to have dinner.
405 traffic broke up a little bit right after the OC county line, so we made it up to Manhattan Beach right around 8. The area was popping with activity, and our first choice for dinner was booked solid, so we scrambled a bit to find another place to eat, where we could get right in, since Chuck is always fidgety about getting to the airport on time. After a quick search of Yelp, we decided on dinner at The Kettle.
The Kettle proclaims on their menus that they have been, "locally world famous since 1973." In that time they have gained quite a reputation for their breakfast items, and the fact that they are open 24 hours a day, they are also the place to be as soon as the bars close. Luckily we were with old man Chuck, who is used to being in bed by 6pm on most nights, so we had no chance of running into a bunch of drunks on this trip.
The restaurant had an old school feel to it, without trying to hard. The menu is pretty diverse, so if you have a picky eater in your party, like Chuck, you will have no problem finding them something to eat here. The menu is definitely like something you would see at an old school diner. Plenty of breakfasts items, appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, but they also feature full blown suppers. Chuck was checking his watch every two minutes now, looking forward to sitting in the airport for two hours. So let's take a look at what we ate before Chuck and Stephanie took off for vacation.
Chuck and Stephanie did not want to be overly stuffed for their cross country flight, so they decided on sharing a meal. I believe Chuck just wanted to cut down on expenses, but we'll take his word for it. Dinners come with soup or salad, and they selected the Mixed Greens Salad. This salad contained some garbanzo beans, tomato, plenty of croutons, and your choice of dressing. The greens were pretty fresh, and they both liked the provided crunch of the croutons. A very capable starter salad at The Kettle.
Meals come with your choice of muffin here, and they were out of my usual selection, blueberry, so I opted for a Honey Bran Muffin, while Chuck had the Banana Nut Muffin. Even though bran is probably one of my least favorite kinds of muffins, this one was moist, and had a touch of sweetness to it. The banana nut muffin was even better, and came out like a very well made banana bread. Very tasty. Hopefully next time we visit I'll be able to try one of their blueberry muffins.
Much to Chuck's delight, the entrees made their way to our table pretty quick, starting with this Braised Pot Roast Dinner ($18.95). This classic dish was made with chuck roast braised in red wine, beef stock, and vegetables. The result was pretty tender shreds of beef, with plenty of flavor from the sauce. This came with red skinned mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach. Both were pretty good, but the potatoes shined here. Good consistency, and the gravy was tasty as well. The garlic bread looked a little better than it actually was. It could have been a little softer for my taste. Chuck and Stephanie made quick work of this plate, probably because they wanted to rush us along to LAX.
Katie tried the Grilled Vegetable and Ricotta Salad ($16.50 with grilled chicken added). This salad had a plethora of items in it. Grilled eggplant, mushrooms, bell peppers, red onion, and zucchini are in here, along with baby kale, cherry tomatoes, and then it's topped with toasted pine nuts, pesto, ricotta cheese, and a balsamic vinaigrette. This was a pretty good sized salad, which Katie ended up taking a good amount of it home. She loved the variety of things in here, and the chicken was served warm, which she liked.
For some reason when we walked into The Kettle, I had a feeling this place reminded me of another restaurant. After seeing this French Quarter ($13.95) on the menu, it dawned on me that the restaurant I was thinking of was Mimi's Cafe. They also have a similar burger on their menu that closely resembles this one. This version is better though, because they use a half pound of Wagyu beef, cooked to a wonderful medium, then they pile on melted Swiss cheese, bacon, red onion, lettuce, tomato, and thousand island dressing, all on toasted sourdough bread. This was a pretty solid burger. Not overly greasy, but still had a nice flavor to the beef. The toppings were all pretty good, but did not get in the way of the meat. The bread held up nicely, and the fries were better than average seasoned fries.
For being our second choice restaurant on this very busy Friday night in Manhattan Beach, and with a time deadline, we were all pretty pleased by The Kettle on this night. As I was writing this review up, I did a little more research, and found out that this restaurant is related to Mimi's Cafe. The founder of Mimi's, Arthur Simms, bought The Kettle back in 1976, and from what I can ascertain, they are still part of the same restaurant group, but I might be wrong about that. Anyways, back to this visit. We really had a good meal here, the service was pretty superb, and their variety will be enough to please almost anyone that visits. We even made it to the airport with two hours to spare before their flight took off. A very successful night.
Out of five potato chips, (in honor of one of my favorite brands of potato chips, Kettle Brand), five being best to zero being worst, The Kettle gets 3 potato chips.
For more information about The Kettle, go to their website here: http://thekettle.net/index.html