Thursday, December 10, 2015

This Tin Roof is not Rusted

Tin Roof Bistro
3500 North Sepulveda Blvd. #100
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Yes, we are up in the South Bay area again, so you know what that means. We are taking our good friends Chuck and Stephanie to LAX for one of their six trips a year to visit their grand kids in South Carolina. Most people need to be in their golden years to travel this much, and luckily Stephanie married someone that was way older than herself, and well into his golden years when they met all those years ago. I can write this because Chuck probably has misplaced his bifocals, and can't read this anyways.

With this dynamic duo traveling so much, you might think that we are running out of places to eat when head up this way. Nothing could be further from the truth. The South Bay area has so many great restaurants that we want to try, Chuck will be 105 years old by the time we have even made a dent in our list of restaurants to hit up. Of course that's only three years away, but new places are opening all the time. This trip we came up to try the highly rated Tin Roof Bistro.

Tin Roof Bistro is located on the outskirts of the Manhattan Village Mall, which is on the corner of Sepulveda and Rosecrans. This restaurant visit added a little more importance to me, because of the recently opened up Simmzy's back in OC at the new shopping and entertainment venue, Pacific City. Simmzy's is the sister restaurant to Tin Roof Bistro, and part of the Simms Restaurant Group, which also includes the restaurants, Fishing With Dynamite, Manhattan Beach Post, and of course the now five location strong Simmzy's.

Tin Roof Bistro, opened in 2009, is Mike Simms vision of a wine country locals spot. A restaurant where you can feel comfortable wearing a t-shirt and jeans, or in sports jacket. Mike knows a little something about wine country, as he worked up in the Napa Valley after graduating college. He also has the restaurant business in his genes, as his dad and grandfather are longtime restaurateurs.

We got here at just before 8:30 on a Friday night. We had no reservation, but at this later dinner hour, we had no problem being seated right away. I'd say they nailed Mike's vision, as the restaurant was very comfortable, lively, and unpretentious. The feel of it reminded me of one of our favorite spots in San Clemente, Vine Restaurant, which is also going for the wine country feel, without the stuffiness. The menu is dotted with appetizers, salads, a fine selection of daily specials, and entrees. The entrees are all reasonably priced, with none of them reaching Chuck's critical $30 mark. Let's see if we could send Chuck and Stephanie off to South Carolina with a great meal.

First up is an item that you can also order at Simmzy's, the Blue Cheese Haystack ($6.75). On Tin Roof Bistro's Yelp page, this gets a lot of love, and that held true at our table as well. A mound of shoestring fries is topped with a blue cheese dressing and a sauce that resembled a milder buffalo style sauce. I enjoyed these, but because the fries were so skinny, it was hard for the sauce to cling to them. They were good quality fries and the blue cheese had a little tang to it. A nice start to our meal at Tin Roof.

Since Chuck was buying dinner in exchange for the ride to the airport, we all got salads. This was Katie's selection, the half version of the Manhattan Beach Cobb ($8). This take on a Cobb salad had Katie drooling. It came with romaine, bite sized chicken pieces, avocado, bacon, walnuts, celery, grapes, crispy shallots, and a combination herb vinaigrette and blue cheese dressing. This updated spin on a Cobb salad was refreshing, and hit the mark. Lots of different textures kept each bite interesting, and the combo salad dressing was the best of both worlds. Katie remarked that she might just get the full version of this salad next time.

I've been on a real roll with Caesar salads lately, and that held true to form on this night as well. This Classic Caesar ($8.75) had all the components you'd expect to find in a Caesar; chopped romaine, plenty of shaved Parmesan, some pretty solid croutons, and their self described, "take no prisoners" Caesar dressing. This salad was not revolutionary, but I liked the combined effect everything had here. There was plenty of the dressing on here, the crunch from the croutons was good, and they also did not skimp on the shaved cheese. A delicious, yet basic Caesar.

I guess Chuck was in a good mood, because he allowed himself and Stephanie to split this Simple Greens Salad ($5.75). This was a pretty good sized salad for the price, and it came with a good variety of greens, tomatoes, shredded carrots, croutons, and a honey Dijon vinaigrette. No complaints from either Chuck or Stephanie about this salad, which they said had fresh produce, and the dressing provided a nice flavor to the greens.

We saw a number of pizzas coming out of the kitchen on this evening, and two of them made their way to our table, the first of which was this M.S.G. Pizza ($13.50). Mushroom, sausage, and garlic made up the name of this pie, but there was also red sauce, mozzarella, and plenty of green scallions topping this. Katie really enjoyed her choice here. She felt that the toppings on this pizza went well together, without one of them stealing the spotlight from the others. She also was a big fan of the crust here, as it was not soggy in the middle, like a lot of these wood fired pizzas tend to be. I also enjoyed the piece I stole from her.

Almost without fail, if there's a menu item with the word spicy included in the title, Stephanie makes a beeline for it. She was true to form when she chose this Spicy Chicken BBQ Pizza ($12.50) for her and Chuck to share on this evening. Fresno chilis, smoked mozzarella, chicken, cilantro, and caramelized onions topped this pizza, which predictably, Stephanie said could have been spicier. Both her and Chuck did like the pizza, thought the chicken was tender, and the crust was pretty solid. They would probably get something else on their next visit here, but had no qualms about this being their first meal at Tin Roof Bistro.

I was not feeling like a pizza on this evening, and instead opted for something off of their entree portion of the menu. This Grilled Flat Iron Steak ($26.25) caught my eye right away. This 8 ounce steak was cooked perfectly to my desired medium rare specifications, tender, and made even better with a very good homemade Worcestershire sauce. Almost out shining the beef was the fingerling potato hash, which was topped with plenty of blue cheese and bacon. One of the better side dishes I have had in awhile. The potatoes were done right, and you can never go wrong with a blue cheese and bacon combo. A very satisfying meal.

Chuck and Stephanie still had about two hours before their flight, so we decided to splurge on dessert with this Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse ($4.25). This was a lighter than expected mousse, but still had a rich chocolate presence. I wish there was a little more of the pecan brittle toffee incorporated here, but this was a great way to end our stay at Tin Roof Bistro.

I left here pretty impressed with almost everything we experienced at Tin Roof Bistro. The food was exactly what they were striving for, chef inspired cuisine, with an emphasis on freshness. Almost overshadowing the food was the warm, yet professional service we experienced on this evening. When patrons would get up during their meals, the staff would fold their napkins for them, which is not something that you see at a restaurant with this price point. I also noticed a real team atmosphere among the wait staff, which helped keep things running smoothly. After eating here, I'm really looking forward to this restaurant group's entry into the OC dining scene. Tin Roof Bistro was a great sendoff for Chuck and Stephanie.

Out of five cats, (for the obvious reason of when I hear the words tin roof, I immediately think of the play by Tennessee Williams, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"), five being best to zero being worst, Tin Roof Bistro gets 3.5 cats.

For more information about Tin Roof Bistro, head to their website here:

Tin Roof Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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