Though the name of David LeFevre’s latest addition to the Manhattan Beach dining scene may piss off the folks at PETA, serious seafood seekers should be smiling with yet another top-notch destination to satisfy their cravings. Housed in a sleek grey building on the corner of Manhattan avenue and 12th street, mere blocks from the beach, Fishing With Dynamite combines the sensibilities of an East Coast seafood shack with what I would consider an upscale California beach vibe. In other words, the same great seafood just a bit pricier and with longer lines.
Hoping to avoid such dreaded waits (I believe only two tables are held for reservations), I decided to visit during lunch hoping that it would wouldn’t be crowded. It was, but fortunately there were a couple of open seats at the raw bar which I happily took.
Live Santa Barbara Sea Urchin [$15] / Kumamoto [$3.50/ea] / Malpeque [$3/ea] / Peruvian Scallops [$2.25/ea]
I had planned on trying some of the raw offerings anyway, but sitting there at the counter watching oysters get shucked and lobsters cracked in half just solidified my thinking. FWD offers a few different sample platters but I went ahead and created my own, starting with live Santa Barbara uni which displayed a typical cool, creaminess to it that was countered nicely by the crunch of the accompanying house-made focaccia toasts. Next up were two pairs of oysters representing both coasts: plump, sweet Kumamoto’s with a lingering ocean finish from Washington, and the larger, brinier Malpeque’s from Prince Edward’s Island. As good as the uni and oysters were, the scallops ended up being perhaps the most pleasing bite of the platter, with the tart grapefruit and cilantro leaf complimenting the natural sweetness of the scallop.
Softshell Crab Po’ Boy [$14] | Cajun remoulade, Weiser chips
I have a difficult time passing up anything softshell crab, and this Po’ Boy was no exception. The crab was no doubt the focal point here, its crunchy outer giving way to luscious juices on the inside, while the tangy remoulade and sweet pickles sealed the deal.
Grilled Octopus [$19] | cranberry beans, date-tomato ragu, preserved lemon, kalamata olive tapenade
Grilled octopus arrived last, slightly charred, flavorful and perfectly tender. The beans added some necessary weight to the dish, while the ragu and tapenade contributed a sweet-tart element that balanced the bitterness of the char on the octopus.
Despite being open less than six months, Fishing With Dynamite appears to have already found their groove, with the near impossibility of scoring a reservation and long waits for a table strong indicators of the public’s approval. I’m not sure if LeFevre envisioned FWD to be more of a neighborhood-type joint, but the strength of the cooking and quality of the seafood make it a worthwhile destination from any distance.
Fishing With Dynamite
1148 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dine date: Wed 08.15.13, 1:00pm