Chloe, the Playa del Rey bistro, has been such a success that chef-owner Christian Shaffer is branching out with a second restaurant, this time in Manhattan Beach. Avenue debuted a couple of weeks ago in the heart of the quaint beach town, right around the corner from the pier.
Since Shaffer can't very well be behind the stoves at two places, he's brought over chef Collin Crannell from Chloe to get things rolling and added to Avenue's kitchen team Michael Wilson of the late 5 Dudley in Venice, who was Shaffer's sous chef at Pinot Bistro.
A week into it, the place was already taking off. Locals were ensconced at the bar, and more were spread around the pleasant, high-ceilinged room.
Despite the wood wainscoting and simple bar, the feeling is anything but beach-casual, and the food follows suit. Avenue is a definitely a grown-up kind of place. Right at the top of the one-page menu is a parsnip puree soup scented with vanilla. Charred romaine hearts are cloaked in a creamy dressing and draped with boquerones (Spanish vinegar-marinated anchovies). Fried oysters wear a stout-batter jacket, while the hand-cut steak tartare arrives crowned with a dainty quail egg (and a bit underseasoned).
Main courses hit the usual comfort notes with cedar-planked salmon with smashed potatoes, prime flatiron steak or slow-roasted pork shoulder with purple kale. The cooking is clean and polished.
The wine list takes in all the usual sights, and then some. Umathum, a terrific Austrian red from Burgenland, doesn't show up on many lists, but Avenue has it. More than a dozen wines are poured by the glass, and there's also a reserve list in the works.
Avenue is Shaffer's new baby. But it's not his only one. He and his wife, Tedde, who runs the front of the house, have a new daughter only a few weeks older than the restaurant. It's like having twins.
Where: 1141 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach
When: Dinner 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; 6 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Full bar. Street parking.
Cost: Appetizers $8 to $10, main courses $18 to $28, desserts $6 to $8
Info: (310) 802-1973