So after living in all three of the South Bay Beach Cities (Manhattan, Hermosa, & Redondo), I thought I'd run out of new places to try, or at least new places that had the "WOW" factor... I was wrong! Last Friday night, I gathered 5 "foodie" friends to try out Chef Melba's Bistro in Hermosa Beach, and after our dining experience, I am the group's heroine! Chef Melba's Bistro is a small (albeit, a bit cramped) and quaint little restaurant on Hermosa Avenue, 1 block from the beach (try to get there around sundown, spectacular!). Although CMB has only been opened for less than a year (I don't know for sure), it already has a steady following, and rave reviews from patrons and professional food critics (her west wall is adorned with newspaper articles). The kitchen in open and you can watch Chef Melba orchestrating a symphony of kitchen utensils and fresh ingredients, that is somewhat mesmerizing. The first very important element that we experienced was the hostess, Reina (Chef Melba's sister), she was warm and nurturing, and even offered to hold a much-coveted parking space in front of the restaurant for us (if you've ever tried to park in Hermosa Beach, you know what I mean!). Secondly, every table is BLESSED with fresh bread that is grilled, with a hint of fresh garlic.
Third, the appetizers, we ordered:
Baked assorted vegetables with goat cheese;
Fried calamari with cocktail sauce and garlic cilantro dipping sauce; and the
Ahi tuna tower with mango, avocado, basil and chili-infused oil.
The Fried Calamari was so crisp and fresh and crunchy, and the Garlic cilantro dipping sauce was so good, my husband tried to horde it! While every restaurant seems to do a version of an Ahi Tuna Tower, Chef Melba's inclusion of mango was genius! So good, I tried to horde it!
Fourth, as for our entrees, we ordered:
Prawn scampi with linguine, whole roasted garlic, & tomatoes, in a light sauce;
Grilled salmon with whole-grain mustard-rosemary butter and seasonal vegetables;
Seared rare ahi tuna with twelve-year-old balsamic and extra virgin olive oil;
Sea scallops and prawn combination over brown rice with saffron sauce;
Grilled natural black angus rib eye steak with sun dried tomato demi-glace; and
Grilled natural black angus sirloin steak basted with teriyaki peppercorn sauce.
There was NOT one complaint nor even a murmur of discontentment, only "mmms" and "oh man, this is so good!" My only complaint about my Scampi Linguini was that I wanted more of it! Since we got to try a bit of everyone's dish (for the sake of the review, yeah!), the Seared Ahi Tuna was the winner of the night, although it truly could've easily been a six-way tie!
When (not if) I go back to Chef Melba's, I definately will try either the:
Grilled center cut pork chop with demi-glace and shiitake jus; or the
Grilled 9 oz filet mignon with red wine porcini sauce and roasted potatoes; or the
Seafood cioppino with clam, mussels, calamari, crab, and tomato saffron broth; or the
Fettuccine with salmon, squash, and mushrooms in a light tomato sauce; or the
Tuscany prawns with tomatoes, olives, capers, lemon juice, and roasted garlic.
I know that I would to try the Grilled half-pound Kobe beef burger with fries,... however, to me a burger is a burger is a burger, and I am a firm believer that it is a travesty to grind up Kobe beef! Kobe beef wasn't meant to be eaten that way, and it's just wrong!
I noticed that Chef Melba's Bistro has a "Low Carb" menu which I found to be a bit perplexing since low carb diets are un-fashionable these days. That being said, everything on CMB's Low Carb menu sounded so incredible, that I would definately order from it without hesitation.
Lastly, while all the desserts seemed inviting, especially the CM's signature dark chocolate bag with passion fruit mousse or the Apple crostata with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, we all agreed that we would've like to have seen something with a little more chocolate muscle (e.g., a flourless chocolate torte/cake... Oh shush, all of you who just groaned,... you know you lust after such a thing!). What is unfortunate for Chef Melba's Bistro is its close proximity to a Cold Stone Creamery,... so yes, we opted to walk down the block and indulge. I'm so ashamed!!!
Anyway, to finalize my review, my only criticism of Chef Melba's Bistro is the noise-level. At 7:30 p.m. on a Friday night, it was almost unbearable! Do not, I repeat, do not let this deter anyone from going there, once the bigger parties leave, the room quites to a nice, tolerable buzz.
So, I want to give a shout out to Chef Melba and her wonderful staff, and the incredible food that I wish I had discovered on my own,... however, the ultimate shout-out goes to my fellow Chowers who directed me to Chef Melba's in the first place, and my fellow Chowers who will benefit from this review. GO THERE, I promise I will be your heroine!