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Darren's Restaurant One of Manhattan Beach's Best

Aug 21, 2014 06:55PM ● By Mb News Staff
Dining at Darren's Restaurant in downtown Manhattan Beach is like discovering a shining star amidst other shining stars.

Indeed, the dining scene in downtown MB has become a hotbed of activity with joints like Manhattan Beach Post and Little Sister gaining critical acclaim and countless foodie fans.

But years before those culinary finds took residence in Manhattan Beach, Chef Darren Weiss brought his incredible talents to the beachside community, opening Darren's in 2007, gaining great acclaim right from the start.

Stop into Darren's any evening and you're likely to see the chef/owner officiating over the multitude of dishes coming out of the kitchen or behind a stove. It's that kind of hands-on approach that tells you how much this chef aims to please and how much he wants to ensure that you have the best dining experience possible.

Mid-week, on a Wednesday evening, Chef Darren held forth, unobtrusively mingling with patrons and staff as diners filled booths, tables and the new community table created during last month's remodel.

To the restaurant's credit, that remodel turns Darren's into an even better dining experience that is intimate yet open, with high ceilings and an interior that reflects the laid-back casualness of coastal California.

As kids and parents took a seat at the community table, joined by young adults and others who wanted to belly up to a communal dining experience, Darren's was ablaze with activity. Filled to the brim, wait staff created unique dining experience for each party, tailored to their desires.

We took our time, basking in an evening out, sipping drinks and enjoying our time with sommelier Nadia who explained wines and menu selections.

If you're keen on mixed drinks, Darren's mixologist offers an intriguing selection. The Bath was a shining example of the specialty drink menu, and would be quite enough for a simple bar stop.

We turned Nadia loose on our wine and menu selections, and were not disappointed. In fact, her unfussy wine knowledge enhanced our meal and made our evening even more incredible.

When it comes to cuisine, Darren's creations are excellent. Even something as seemingly simple as Corn Muffins take on a heightened sense of elegance and flavors with pine nuts, truffle butter, sage and ricotta.

From there, we moved into salads--a Crispy Pear and Baby Iceberg Lettuce selections. Each was a delightful and savory sensation with the sort of culinary touches you don't find just anywhere. St. Andre Triple Cheese adorned my Pear Salad and Point Reyes Bleu Cheese turned the iceberg into an amazing treat.

Braised Beef Short Ribs and Northwest Day Boat Scallops were nothing short of excellent. Again, a Pt. Reyes Bleu Cheese mixed into a polenta perfectly accenting the short rib, and a to-die-for fungi risotto with braised leeks and porcini oil artfully elevating the scallops to the highest order.

Dessert was yet another dish from heaven: We split Chocolate Dipped Fried Gelato with a Butterscotch Creme Chantilly.

Darren's Restaurant is certainly a gem among gems, and provides patrons with everything you'd expect from a superb culinary spot.

Darren's, 1141 Highland Ave., is open for dinner Monday-Saturday beginning at 5 p.m.; (310) 802-1973.

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