I know we've said this before, but I rarely get excited about brunch. Maybe it's because I'm not keen on overpaying for fried eggs, french toast or fried potatoes - all things I could make at home. Hell, a six-year old could make these things at home. Forgive me for not being excited to have a talented chef set aside everything they know to whip me up an omlette made with the week's leftover scraps. And don't even get me started on 'bottomless mimosas'...
MB Post is one of the rare L.A. restaurants doing brunch right. The credit can go to acclaimed chef David Lefevre - a Charlie Trotter-protege who recently left downtown's Water Grill in favor of the South Bay. All of the homey comforts you'd expect from brunch are still there, just executed with inspiration to create a great small plates menu by a chef and team who aren't just phoning it in. If brunch is this good, it's scary to wonder how good dinner could be.
The former Manhattan Beach post office provides a large venue, and the new owners have taken full advantage of the space decorating with long wooden communal tables and tall windows that peer into the busy kitchen. As big as it is, MB Post manages to pack in the crowds every weekend. Do not expect to walk in – we made our reservations two weeks in advance.
Upon our arrival, it seems there's nothing in this world that our attentive server isn't ultra-enthusiastic about. Her level-eleven perkiness might feel spurious somewhere, but not here. Taking a look at the "Bangin' Brunch" menu, we too found quite a lot to be ultra-enthusiastic about. This is not a brunch for light eaters or dieters, no sir. Almost without exception, the items are decadent and delicious, and made to share.
We start with a couple of handcrafted cocktails. The Southern Hospitality (below, left) is a refreshing punch of Eagle Rare bourbon, grilled peach, cinnamon and charred white oak. The Old George (below right) is equally refreshing on a warm summer Sunday. It's a variation on a salty dog, made with chopin, grapefruit, basil, and a beautiful raspberry pepper jam.
If you've heard anything about MB Post, then you've heard of the impossibly good bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits. Some of the best biscuits we've ever tasted: crunchy, cheesy exterior, warm, doughy, buttery insides punctuated with morsels of bacon. If that doesn't sound good enough on its own, try slathering them up with the light-as-air maple butter. In fact, these biscuits are so good we fully intend on ordering another round for dessert, though by the end of the meal the size of our stomachs, in light of all this good food, simply won't allow it.
Because our pork pangs are too overwhelming to be satiated by the bits of bacon in the biscuits, we supplement with a side of thick-cut slices of crisp bacon, with rosemary, brown sugar and chili. Unlike bacon sides at most brunch venues, the bacon here is perfectly cooked and there's no lack of flavor (we may or may not have dipped the bacon in the leftover maple butter and it may or may not have been really awesome).
For the bruncher looking to indulge his or her sweet tooth, there’s the French toast topped with whipped cream, cherries and pistachios. A deep slice into the thick toast reveals an oozing forkful of fresh, creamy housemade ricotta.
We take a breather from the artery clogging to enjoy the sole light dish of the meal: the Fitzgerald & Frog Hollow stone fruit salad - featuring slices of white peach, nectarine, apricot and pluots drizzled with honey, flecked with mint and served over ice - serves as a nice interlude.
Then it's right back to heart-attack city. The shatteringly crisp outside of the truffle honey-laced fried chicken (served with a nice, but easily overshadowed kohlrabi slaw) hides white meat chicken that has no business being this succulent. This chicken...is too good to be on a brunch menu. At least anywhere other than MB Post.
Slightly less dangerous, the juicy, well-seasoned turkey sausage patty comes served atop a bed of sage and cavolo nero (black kale) sweetened with maple. It's very tasty, but at this point in the meal, almost superflous.
The Coughlin's law (below, left) is a variation on a redeye (essentially a bloody mary made with beer and an egg). Here, Tito's vodka is combined with Belgian pilsner, tomato, dill, picante and topped with a quail's egg to make quite the hangover cure. The Avila's heir (below, right) is a spicy margarita made with corralejo reposado, serrano pepper, mandarin and yuzu.
The burrata, roasted pepper, and green olive pesto sandwich would have been a pleasant enough lunch, with the creamy cheese and sweet pepper contrasting nicely with the slightly piquant spread and crusty bread. However, arriving late in the game, well after our stomachs have reached their breaking points, the sandwich (and excellent housemade chips) scores only a few bites of our attention.
Everyone is shell-shocked when the server dropped off the monstrous, deep-fried burrito stuffed with scrambled egg, chorizo-spiced pork, pepperjack, and yam, and topped with salsa verde. What happened to small, share plates? Nevertheless, it was good and we kept eating. And eating...
Alas, we leave without another dose of bacon-cheddar-maple-butter-biscuits, but fully satisfied. Thankfully Chef LeFevre has shared his recipe for the addictive biscuits here.
MB Post is not the only place in the county making brunch a weekend highlight, but it may be the best of them. LeFevre has turned what's usually an afterthought into an attraction.