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Monday, January 9, 2012

Los Angeles Restaurant Review: Zane's at the Beach, Delicious Food at the Right Price


There’s seems to be a myth in Los Angeles that all the best restaurants are in West LA, Santa Monica or Beverly Hills, and that the trade off for great food is an expensive bill.  While it’s true that Los Angeles boasts many fine restaurants north of LAX, there are a few overlooked gems in South Bay.  Zane’s Restaurant in Hermosa Beach is a culinary delight offering great service, delicious food and the atmosphere of a family run restaurant like you might find in Europe.  Seating is small and intimate and you can expect that at any time, the owner and chef Zane or his wife, might stop by your table to ask how you are enjoying the food.  The menu includes seafood classics like fried calamari, Ahi tuna tartar (lightly seasoned with a twist of citrus), pesto shrimp and a show stopping spicy Cioppino ( a light touch of red pepper gives the fresh seafood just the right accent.)  They also offer lightly grilled Chilean Sea Bass brushed with olive oil and spices as well as perfectly cooked steaks.  I was lucky enough to try all these dishes at a recent blogger “Taste and Tweet” dinner.  The panel of tasters at this seven course dinner included the host of Food Network's Extreme Chef  TV show, Marsh Mokhtari founder Kristin Rohan, DeathbedFood founder Diane Wagner,  Jacqueline Howard of the Hermosa Beach Patch plus writers from the Daily Breeze and the Easy Reader.  It was a unanimous thumbs-up on the Zane's tasting menu from this esteemed panel of epicurious, social media experts. We found each course well prepared and flavorful, without processed additives from a can or heavy sauces.

Pictured: Zane's epic Cioppino.

But how is the restaurant when the team of press and reviewers isn’t there to perform for? That's the real test. I returned to Zane’s a few weeks ago to find out and to talk to other dinners.  The answer is the quality of the food at Zane's is consistently good, even during the cheap and cheerful “Social Media” Happy Hour where appetizers are priced from $5.00 to $9.00.  I asked visiting New Yorker, and fellow dinner Victoria Renner, for her opinion of Zane’s.  Ms. Renner was impressed by the “ light and delicious fare and the atmosphere -- it is both warm and upscale.  Zane's reminds me of 'inoteca- one of my favorite restaurants on the Lower East Side of New York City.” That's quite a compliment for Zane's as 'inoteca is one of the hottest spots in New York at the moment, lauded by Gourmet for their "easy going Italian fare."  Zane's definitely has a similar easy going neighborhood vibe plus the Italian fare.
Pictured: The Ahi Tuna Tartar has just the right touch of sesame and citrus.

Other highlights at Zane’s include the homemade bread derived from a family recipe for pizza dough, the blood orange martini, the cucumber mint martini (perfect for fashionistas) and homemade Tiramisu.  For those looking for simpler fare, the burger and sweet potato fries is simply delicious.  The only word of caution I must offer about Zane’s is that the restaurant is a small space, so you may wish to call for reservations before you drive to the beach for dinner.  Even if you have to brave LA traffic, Zane’s makes the trip worthwhile.

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