Separately, chef couple Nick Roberts and Brooke Williamson are pretty darned impressive. Roberts has worked in the kitchens of famed Union Pacific, Ducasse, and Café Boulud, while Williamson holds the honor of being the youngest chef to ever cook at the James Beard House and is currently cooking up a storm on this season of Top Chef: Seattle. It's like the two were made to be together, like...well, like great beer and fine food, which Roberts and Williamson are pairing at Redondo Beach's Hudson House and Playa Del Rey's The Tripel.
We've yet to visit Hudson House, but after a really fun trip to the Tripel a couple of weeks ago, we're putting it high up on our list. First of all, The Tripel is perfectly suited to its location - it's tiny, cozy, and laid back, just like the old beach town Playa Del Rey.
LUBRICATION the board screams at you when you walk into the Tripel. In this case, it's referring to the 'Social Lubrication' that flows out of its 12 taps - a stellar mix of Belgians and local craft brews (below, left). Along with the excellent tap list, the Tripel also offers beer cocktails like the Sour Grapes (below, right) which deftly blends sour beer with Luxardo maraschino liqueur.
And what to pair with all these lovely concoctions? How about a parade of creative small plates?
To start, a hint of coconut and red curry bring unexpected warmth to dense, crumbly biscuits (below), which are made even tastier with dollops of luscious clotted cream and orange blossom honey.
The chicken sausage stuffed dates (below) balance the sugary dried fruit perfectly against the savory elements: the well-seasoned meat stuffing, piquillo pepper, and cilantro. A really nice alternative to the ubiquitous bacon-wrapped version.
Baby octopus (below), a favorite of mine, gets a nice char, retaining a bit of bite, which is a good textural contrast to the creamy, inky coconut rice and saffron-tinged sauce.
The duck egg Florentine (below) is an interesting combination of creamed spinach, perfectly poached egg and crunchy triangles of smoked trout toast. While we might like the individual elements more than the dish as a whole, the composed dish is a good example of Roberts and Williamson's willingness to think outside the box.
Yeah, I know you don't know what chicken waterzooi (below) is. Neither did we. Order it anyway. It's a Belgian dish, and it's fantastic: a bright, hearty stew of heirloom carrots, leeks, kale, fenugreek, and gremolata, with big chunks of succulent, tender chicken, and an insanely crispy potato latka for texture.
Even the more traditional dishes get a fancy fun spin. The Tripel burger is a disco party of flavors: duck confit, pork, and aged beef, truffle pecorino, arugula, and housemade apricot jam on an onion brioche bun. It's definitely not for the faint of heart, but it's not overwhelming, either - the richness plays really well with the sweetness of the jam. It's been a long time since we've had a burger this good in LA.
For dessert, we enjoyed a fresh baked chocolate-cherry cookie (below, right) with black tea ice cream alongside our espresso. An nice, warm, ooey-gooey finish to a fine meal.
Good food and good drink really are the perfect combination. There's no doubt you'll find us getting lubricated in Playa Del Rey again very soon. In the meantime, we'll be cheering on Chef Brooke every Wednesday on Top Chef: Seattle.
*Disclosure: This was a hosted meal.