Too many visitors turn resolutely left out of LAX, heading north for Los Angeles, Beverly Hills or Santa Monica, oblivious to the delights which lie to the south. Yet within a half-hour’s drive of the airport sit LA’s delightful beach towns, a great place to kick back and enjoy good food in rustic surroundings. Hermosa Beach is one of the prettiest of these coastal villages, and The Hook & Plow has been its star turn since 2014.
Farm to fork is the current byword in California dining, but the Hook & Plow sees it more as ocean to plate. Fresh catch is the favourite raw material of executive chef Alejandro Arrieta, who hails from Colombia and honed his skills as banquet chef at the five-star Bel Air Hotel.
Today, Arrieta’s Latin influences are tempered by those imported by Hawaiian twins Lauren Copeland and Lisa Cassity, who are among the four owners. Thus poke – the marinated fish salad from Hawaii fast becoming a world craze – is a surefire starter, here made with avocado, cucumber and super-fresh ahi tuna.
There is catch of the day for pescatarians and burgers and steaks for carnivores, while dishes like scallops and pork belly with squash and creamed corn showcase Arrieta’s own influences and skills, and the furikake house fries are an umissable side, umami on a plate with their seaweed seasoning, Parmesan sprinkles and just a touch of truffle oil.
Roasted Brussels sprouts were a wild idea too far and possibly only a dyed-in-the-wool vegan would choose crispy organic marinated tofu over fresh fish and seafood or America’s favourite entree, short ribs. However, white chocolate and goat’s cheese combined to make an unusual and tasty cheesecake, and the berry cobbler with vanilla ice-cream is a real crowd pleaser.
While there’s a good selection of California wines, the craft beer movement has reached LA, and 10 of the finest from breweries within 20 miles of Hermosa Beach are all on tap. Dinner is relaxed, but party people may want to come for weekend brunch, when the vibes are pumped.
Tell Me more about the Hook & Plow Hermosa Beach