Darren’s — born again after several months of remodeling and retooling — may be the most grown-up restaurant in downtown Manhattan Beach.
There’s a certain undeniable Neverland quality to the South Bay’s beach towns and their restaurants; this is a world where you can be young forever amid the energy, the mixology, the chow and the general wacky weirdness of the area’s hottest eateries.
But Darren’s doesn’t feel like the sort of restaurant where you show up wearing board shorts and flip-flops. I’m not suggesting tie-and-jacket — heck, there isn’t a restaurant in the South Bay where either a tie or a jacket is called for —but I figure a decent pair of khakis and maybe a nice Tommy Bahama shirt would do. A fair understanding of our cuisine circa 2014 wouldn’t hurt either. Socks are optional. But reservations are necessary.
Those of us who are fans of chef Darren Weiss remember him from his first local restaurant, the tiny Cafe Catalina in Redondo Beach. He’s a chef with an impressive history. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he cooked at David Paul’s Lahaina Grill, Mark Ellman’s Avalon and the Grand Wailea Resort & Spa on Maui; the man’s beachside roots are well documented. After that, he was at Rockenwagner in Santa Monica before going his own way with Cafe Catalina. He headed for Texas for a stint and then opened the current Darren’s in 2007, which he reopened a couple of months ago. (Full Press Story)