If you were to ask me to name a hidden gem in South Bay, I would say Baleen Kitchen without giving a second thought. After living in LA for so long, I never knew such secluded place existed so close from the Redondo Beach Pier. A part of Hotel Portofino, Baleen Kitchen is housed in a separate building which over looks a boat dock. It’s a beautiful space that has an outdoor lounge area with a firepit, a lively bar, and an elegant dining area. Plus, if the timing is right, you can even see a gondola cruising down outside the window!
I had a fabulous dinner experience feasting on delicious dishes from a special tasting menu put together by Chef Richard Crespin. Here is what was on the table: Lobster Mac & Cheese ($16); Tuna Tacos ($5 each); BLT Salad ($13); Hole in One; Sashimi & Baleen Roll; Surf & Turf; Filet of Beef ($38); and Warm Chocolate Cake ($8) for dessert. Some of the dishes were existing menu items and some were not. Of the existing menu item, I really enjoyed the Lobster Mac & Cheese. They were very generous with lobster meat and I was able get a good chunky piece for every bite. The Tuna Tacos were fun little starters and went great with a glass of Pinot Gris. The Filet of Beef was cooked to perfection and the roquefort crust was an elegant way to enhance the overall flavor of the meat. My two absolute favorite dishes were Hole in One and Surf & Turf. Hole in One was a toasted brioche with a fried egg, asparagus, sauteed mushrooms & truffle aioli. It was basically everything I loved in one plate. The juice from all the ingredients (especially from the fried egg and truffle aioli) soaked in warm butter brioche was fantastic. The Surf & Turf was rather a creative dish. It had roasted scallops, braised short ribs, uni, and vanilla parsnip puree. I mean, I already love scallops by themselves but to add braised short ribs and uni?! I really hope that both Hole in One and Surf & Turf can be featured on the regular menu soon because I would personally come back just for those. The Warm Chocolate Cake was a wonderful way to end my fantastic dinner.
After dinner, I walked over to the hotel and checked out the gorgeous lobby. Although it was dark, I was able to get a feel of how close the water was from the window and immediately fell in love with the beachy chic interior. If you are looking for an easy weekend get away within LA County, I would recommend checking out Hotel Portofino and dining at Baleen Kitchen. Thanks to a visit to Baleen Kitchen, I discovered so many charming elements so close from home! e