Friday, July 29, 2011

The Rockefeller: An upscale bar in Hermosa Beach (yay!)

Hermosa Beach is essentially a beach town where the standard attire is shorts and flip flops, bars are filled with partying coeds and most meals you'll get there will consist of potato skins and buffalo wings. I'm a Brentwood girl and my boyfriend is a Hermosa guy. Therefore, I was so excited to hear about our new compromise: new gastropub The Rockefeller a block from the Hermosa Pier. The Rockfeller is trying to target a mature crowd with their selection of over 30 craft beers, wine and upscale bar food.

The place is bustling. We attempted to check it out on a Friday early evening but it was already packed, so we returned the next day for lunch.

The menu is rather limited for a gastropub. Even though the menu itself looks long, half of it comprises of breakfast items and sides. The lunch/dinner items are mainly a small selection of starters, sandwiches, salads and a burger option.

The outdoor patio is the place to sit but the restaurant has a very open layout so the seats inside still get a good view and ocean breeze.

Special of the day was the deep fried risotto fritter which is essentially an arancini. The risotto was cooked nicely and mixed with wild mushrooms, salty parmesan and bits of truffle. My only critique was that the arancinis weren't hot and tasted like they had been sitting out for a while. I also wished the truffle flavor was stronger.

Giant onion rings were pretty good. They had a crispy breading and weren't greasy. Each side comes with a choice of dipping sauce which includes chipotle mayo, lemon thyme vinaigrette and roasted tomatillo. We opted for the lemon saffron sauce which was an aromatic citrus aioli.

The side of portobello mushrooms was served in a tin can. Similar to the onion rings, these weren't oily. The mushrooms had a nice textural breading (almost panko like) and were not mushy. The side of spicy ketchup had a tangy Worcestershire flavor.

Gourmet Grilled Ham and Cheese consisted of a selection of cheeses (aged cheddar cheese, jarlsberg swiss and mascarpone), black forest ham and pesto on whole wheat bread. The sammie was oozing with cheese and sweet caramelized onions. You can tell that they select good ingredients for their sandwiches, however the homemade pickle was nothing special and tasted like a jarred pickle.

The Grilled Chicken Sandwich was a refreshing and light sandwich. It had arugula, watercress and wild mushrooms. The chicken was cooked nicely and well seasoned. The mushrooms and salad was definitely very fresh.

The food overall was decent and tasted pretty healthy. However I found the menu to be limited and the food items did not seem to jive with what a normal gastropub would serve. They mainly serve sandwiches, salads and a burger. I fell that they should serve food that pairs well with beer, perhaps some flatbreads or gourmet mac and cheese. If they wanted to stick with sandwiches, perhaps a pulled pork sandwich would be more appetizing than a salmon or chicken sandwich. But at the end of the day, I am still glad that we have Rockefeller in the neighborhood. I think it has a lot of potential - it already has a great location, decor, layout and beer selections. Now all it needs is to throw some more beer-compatible hearty pub food items on the menu.

Hits: arancini, mushrooms, dipping sauce selection
Misses: not really a bar menu
Rating: ***

The Rockefeller
418-422 Pier Ave
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
(310) 372-8467

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