M.B. Post stands out for its excellent wine list, which features 30 wines by the 3- or 6-ounce pour. The bottle list is a single sheet, one side for whites, the other for reds. The selection spans the globe and includes little-seen wines, such as Simic Chardonnay from Slovenia or Baumard Savennières from the Loire Valley. And there's also a short, sweet list of draft beers.
Service is attentive and enthusiastic. Waiters are ready to explain the food to anyone who's puzzled by unfamiliar items and ingredients. The crowd seems to be game, though, relishing pork jowl and halibut cheeks, albondigas and Japanese Tai snapper.
Braised lamb belly, succulent and crisp, slicked in LeFevre's Moroccan barbecue sauce, is a great combination with cooked semolina and skinny cardamom carrots. Beautifully caramelized Vietnamese-style pork jowl arrives with bright-tasting green papaya and lime salad, all served in a two-handled skillet. Here comes another pesto, this time a delicious one made with those shiny green Castelvetrano olives and served with veal costoletta, or chop. Buttermilk-marinated fried chicken, though, could have been crisper and more flavorful, and the thick-cut fries are mealy.
I keep wondering how LeFevre can turn out this food at these prices and whether he can keep it up. I hope every person dining there realizes what a bargain M.B. Post is for the quality. They must, because the restaurant is packed even on a Monday night.
Desserts aren't the $14 we're used to seeing. Seven dollars buys strawberry-verbena shortcake with soft thick vanilla cream and strawberries perfumed with lemon verbena. I like the rustic three-point strawberry rhubarb tart with edges of the piecrust folded over. And if your sweet tooth craves cheesecake, try the fluffy lemon ricotta version with stewed apricots. And after dessert, a cup of Intelligentsia coffee.
Things are changing. Fussy and gourmet haven't always gone over in the South Bay, but with M.B. Post, a highly trained chef has decided to zero in on the casual instead, capturing some of the beach town's irreverent spirit. Right now, the crowd at M.B. Post seems to be celebrating the fact that there's such a terrific new restaurant in town, one that can hold its own against anything in Southern California.
Starting this week, The Review and The Find will appear on alternating weeks. We're also introducing Critics' Choice, which will feature themed brief reviews of some of our favorite restaurants.