I want to preface this by saying, I’m a HUGE fan of David LeFevre’s. Like, HUGE! His MB Post is one of my favorites and ever since he opened Fishing With Dynamite a few doors down, I’ve been wanting to visit.
So we finally make it up to Manhattan Beach and the beach volleyball tournament is going on and it is absolutely insane there. Luckily, after a few circles around the block, we find parking just two blocks away. Score!
Before perusing the seafood-centric menu, cocktails were ordered — yes it was early, but hey, it was the weekend. Original Gangster ($12) is essentially a Boulevardier made with White Dog bourbon whiskey, aperol, Vya sweet vermouth and grapefruit, while Regalo de Dios ($12) is a sour with hacienda de chihuahua, strawberry, rhubarb and serrano.
FWD is known for its fresh seafood and no one should walk away without trying at least a few items. You can opt for platters that have already been created or, make your own plate. Oysters can be order individually, by the half dozen, or a dozen (prices will be reflected as such).
We selected three types of oysters: Tomahawk ($3.50/$20.50/$38.50), Malagash ($3.50/$20.50/$38.50) and Sweet Petite ($3/$17.50/$33), as well as Littleneck Clams ($2.25/$13/$22) and Peruvian Scallops ($2.50/$14/$26). There are several sauces to choose from and we decided upon Mignonette and Ponzu.
I couldn’t resist the Live Santa Barbara Sea Urchin and what a bargain at a mere $15. Plump, meaty, positively the largest pieces of uni I’ve ever seen are presented with the shell as decor — spines are still moving by the way — and I slurp them will glee allowing the umami-filled flavors of the sea coat my mouth. This is what dying and going to heaven probably tastes like.
After the raw foods, we moved on to the rest. New England Clam Chowdah ($9) was perfect in consistency for me — not too thick — and filled with bits of clam and other delights such as Neuske’s apple smoked bacon, Weiser Farm potatoes, carrots, celery and chives, served with house made oyster crackers. The saltiness of the bacon plays well with the sweetness of the carrots and every spoonful had bits of clams in it.
We couldn’t resist Chef David’s Mom’s Cape Cod Squash Rolls ($5), hot, soft rolls dotted with squash. We slathered the buns with rosemary butter which melted upon contact enveloping the rolls, making them oh so addicting. A carb lover’s dream come true. These are not to be missed.
I’m generally iffy when it comes to crab cakes purely because most places uses WAY too many fillers. Maryland Blue Crab Cake ($16) blew my mind because believe it or not, there were NO fillers in this at all. Only a little bread crumbs are used on the very top for a textural crunch, but otherwise, it’s mouthful after mouthful of plump, sweet, crab. I didn’t even need the in-house dill pickles or whole grain mustard remoulade, but they were both delectable on their own.
I will always order octopus if it’s on the menu and this Grilled Octopus ($19) did not disappoint. Tender pieces of octopus braised in a red wine and mirepoix stock are then grilled for an optimum char factor. The cranberry beans, date-tomato ragu, preserved lemon and kalamata olive tapenade made for a sweet, tart explosion.
I’m a sucker for sashimi so Hamachi ($16) with ponzu, avocado, red radish, serrano and shiso was right up my alley. Beautifully fresh sushi-grade hamachi is bathed in a tart, spicy and fragrant marinade enhancing the wonderfully sweet fish.
Santa Barbara Spot Prawns arrived too late for inclusion on the menu, but Chef sent some out to us and I was so grateful he did because they were so succulent and absolutely sublime in their natural state. I was sucking out the lusciousness in the heads, much to the chagrin of those watching, *shrug* hey, I wasn’t going to waste any of it!
Our last savory dish of Thai Shellfish & Coconut Soup ($11) was my least favorite. Although the broth was filled with plump shrimp, mussel, rice noodles, kaffir lime leaf and coriander, it lacked depth and acid. I added some lime juice to my leftovers the next day and it was exactly what I was looking for to bring a touch of zing to the coconut broth.
If you’re a dessert fan, try one, or all of them on the menu. Maple Pudding with Rosemary Sandies ($6) with Buffalo Trace bourbon and candied pecans, a little sweet for me though.
I loved the Key Lime Pie ($7) with a gorgeous graham cracker crust and kaffir lime meringue, although the kaffir lime was very subtle.
If you’re looking for a hot dessert, the Pretzel and Chocolate Bread Pudding ($8) is the way to go. Salted caramel sauce is drizzled over and topped with a house made ice cream. The hot pudding with the cold ice cream is a perfect combination in my mouth. Too bad I was too full to eat more than a bite.
Just like MB Post, Fishing with Dynamite is one of those restaurants you’ll want to return to over and over again. Chef David Lefevre knows how to bring the freshest and best quality of everything to your plate and it definitely shows.
Fishing with Dynamite
1148 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266