Love & Salt - Clarity in Overindulgence

I ended up in Manhattan Beach at Love & Salt the other night after Lodge Bread Pizza earlier in the day, not a little driven by rumors of the Lowdown burger, which I recall reading about when Fiorelli was at Mar’sel, but never tried. At $20 including beer or glass of wine it’s not the worst deal in high-end burgers by any stretch of the imagination. It was a very large burger, and I was happy I split it with someone. It’s very soul-satisfying, and simple to the taste. This is the kind of high-end burger I could imagine pissing some people off because it’s not necessarily a novel set of flavors, rather it just gets all of the details just right: just right pickles, gooey white cheese, perfectly seasoned patties, light tomato aoili, caramelized onions, not-too-soft brioche bun toasted just so, etc…

Chicken Oysters have replaced their pigs ears. Extremely pleasant with rendered tissue providing a kind of lubrication and added savor to them. The house pickles and buttermilk aioli are dynamite.

I find it almost impossible to go to Love & Salt without having pasta either, and both of their latest additions did not disappoint.

A smoked rigatoni with rabbit meatballs and escarole in a parmesan brodo and burrata almost looked like a salad soup. Every element was just right though. Chewy al dente pasta graced with smoke, set against a properly musty broth, gooey burrata, immensely flavorful rabbit meatballs cooked with a lovely crunch on the “crust”, but perfectly tender inside showcase rabbit exquisitely against the lovely touch of bitterness from the escarole. There was both a tremendous amount of layering in terms of flavor sensations in this dish, as well as a deep clarity to each flavor, while still managing to result in a righteous gestalt from the melange.

Creste di Gallo with lamb ragu was the epitome of simplicity. There is little I can say about it. Pasta made exactly right, lamb showcased perfectly, with hints of cinnamon, and undertone of carrot coming through, the funk of the lamb not lost at all. The outrageousness is that there was as much ragu, like actual lamb meat, as pasta. I had forgotten about the fascinatingly overindulgent aesthetic of Love & Salt. Despite practicing the opposite of cheapness with their portioning, they are priced below comparable pasta places in LA, even though I can’t imagine Manhattan Beach is super cheap real estate.

I was saddened to see the place near-empty last night, but a lot of places were fairly empty, supposedly due to a big football game shrugs. Love & Salt remains one of my favorite places to return to because everything there seems to be just right. I’m not sure I’ve ever had anything I felt was even necessarily mediocre there. Somehow they achieve very high levels of overindulgence while capturing flavors sharply, and cleanly. I never seem to leave a place feeling so “light” after having just spent the meal stuffing down things like pasta, fried chicken, and burgers. It leaves me totally mystified more often than not. It’s an absolute crime that a place doing such hamfisted, over-priced pasta like Spartina is full, while a place like Love & Salt is not, but I digress.

Of particular note to those that don’t dine in groups, they are making the rabbit porchetta in a half portion now for only $38, as well as doing half roast chickens (used to only be whole ones).

The place is just an absolute joy to eat at, and their cocktail, and wine menu is also quite fun to explore (as are their increasingly creative non-alcoholic cocktails).

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You’ve been on fire lately, eating all over the place and seemingly everywhere. Thanks for your contribution to this forum.

I’ve been working in the South Bay for over 10 years now and have never found much food to rave about. It’s good to see legitimate food driven restaurants starting to pop up around here that can compete with the best that LA has to offer. Well, maybe we’re not there yet (yes even including FWD), but definitely heading in the right direction. I’ll have to check out Love and Salt.

Thanks for the kind words. I recently got an iPhone and it’s greatly helped with my abilities to take and upload photos. Plus, after starving in a hospital for over a week, I greatly missed gustatory pleasures out in the world, perhaps I’m overcompensating a bit haha

My, you are in for a wondrous time to get to explore Love & Salt for the first time. If I may, try out their bone marrow cavatappi, kind of a simple, yet ridiculously indulgent dish. The pasta comes out naked, and then bone marrow is scooped fresh from the bone into the pasta along with breadcrumbs, and some herbs, and mixed all together to create one of the most brilliant pasta dishes in LA. The rabbit porchetta is also a very unique dish that is a truly stunning, and far more accessible now that it comes in a smaller portion. Also, try out their English muffins, which sounds odd, but you will see what I mean when you try them out. You cannot really go wrong with anything in my experience eating there though.

Manhattan Beach is an incredible hotbed of good places. MB Post, Fishing With Dynamite, and the Arthur J, plus the original Little Sister (still my personal favorite of the two locations).

You are in for a truly grand time if you happened to have not been to many of these places.

Thanks for this. Look forward to trying it.

After MB Post recently I convinced some friend’s to go get the half pig’s head at Love & Salt as a kind of “dessert”. This is one of the most baller dishes in LA at the moment. It was so good we inspired the table next to us to get one as well, and the thing literally fed all 4 of them by itself (our small party of already-full diners took home like a pound of meat and fried skin haha).

The skin is so perfectly done. The undercurrent of maple, and notes of vinegar and IPA on the crust, and seeped into the delectable meat is just right, not overwhelming, or cloying. The crispy snout and tongue are things unlike any other bites of porcine joy I’ve ever had anywhere else. The house-made mustard, pickled garlic, blueberry preserves, and pickles were also all marvelous and added various joyful notes to the fatty, crispy, tender onslaught of pig. And the buttery grilled toast was revelatory as well; Love & Salt makes some of the best bread anywhere in the city, although not with the ancient grains that are so au courrant.

At just $45, you could come to Love & Salt and eat dinner for like $10-$15/person if you all just shared this thing. Love & Salt reminas tragically underrated in my view.

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That looks and sounds amazing! Thanks for the report.

Would love to see a comparison report vs the one at at Social in OC :wink:

Is that a menu constant there? I don’t see it on their current menu, though maybe it’s a constant off-menu item?

wow that looks amazing and a flat out bargain at $45. Imagine what Republique would charge for something like that.

I would imagine at least $100.

It’s actually hard to tell how they are making that much money off the dish.

I was thinking closer to $150 given how much they charged for a whole chicken

The $195 milk-fed poulrade? I think that may have been a special case, but fair enough haha

$45 is a great deal. it’s 69 for the head at cockscomb

And Cockscomb, at least to my tastebuds, is not even half the restaurant Love & Salt is.

i’m imagining that skin to taste like candy. Please tell me it does.

Yeah, the snout for sure. Very caramelized maple and balsamic… Fucking amazing

Went to L&S last night with wife. Drove all the way from Santa Monica w an obnoxious traffic jam. Still loved meal and will be back. Had English muffin, pickled vegetables, chicken oysters, bone marrow pasta dish, pig’s head and donuts. All delicious, as advertised by Aesthete et al. Warning to those of us with older model digestive systems: pigs head is a lot of pure fat with sensational crispy skin and some meat…I’m not up to actually digesting a dish that rich without consequences. Be a little careful of the fact that it is challenging digestively.

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Glad you had a good meal overall and the “heads-up.”

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I went a while back ago…really enjoyed the English muffin, the bone marrow pasta, and the creste pasta. Didn’t see the pig’s head until now. Will have to go back with my carnivore friends for a tasting.

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That pig’s head would take a toll on anyone, not just the elderly haha