Comfort Cuisine

The Brothers Simms offer more than their famous burgers at Manhattan Beach’s Tin Roof Bistro.

If you see or happen to know the Simms brothers and you live anywhere in the South Bay, for goodness’ sake, give them a thankful hug or, better yet, buy them a beer. Mike and Chris have almost single-handedly reinvented dining—from Long Beach down to the OC—with a string of successful restaurant hits.

From the venerable Kettle in Manhattan Beach to Simmzy’s and the Lazy Dog Café concepts, the Brothers Simms are also partners in two high-end outlets: Chef David LeFevre’s popular MB Post and Chef Anne Conness’ Tin Roof Bistro. I recently dined at the latter for the first time and came away duly impressed.

Conceptually, Tin Roof Bistro is just that—a bistro where the emphasis is on comfort food and casual service. For Chef Anne, however, “comfort” doesn’t mean thoughtless mac ’n’ cheese and generic burgers any more than TRB’s “casual” service implies sloppy, surly servers. If anything, the atmosphere is one of over-achievement for the inauspicious location: in the Manhattan Village strip mall parking lot, just off Rosecrans and Sepulveda.

Tin Roof Bistro is no Chili’s kind of joint. It’s a serious, standalone restaurant doing serious food, even if everyone seems to be having a really good time while working. Maybe it’s just that happy-go-lucky Manhattan “we live near the beach” mentality, but the vibe among guests and employees alike is upbeat fun. From the outdoor bocce court with happy hour food and drink specials to an innovative “wine locker” program for aspiring oenophiles, TRB has something for every type of diner.  

Highlights from our meal included a salad of grilled, late-summer peaches on bitter arugula with feta, almonds and a honey-dijon vinaigrette. It was simple but simply perfect, and our server thoughtfully divided its ample size onto two plates ahead of time without our requesting it. Nice.

While the nightly special of Prime Angus Porterhouse for Two sounded like a carnivore’s dream, we decided to stick to the lighter side and instead split a pizza and a burger for main courses. The pizza was hardly margarita but instead was an unusual but delicious combo of figs, bacon, balsamic syrup and blue cheese. It tasted really good hot from the wood-burning oven but was even better cold the next morning from the fridge at home! I am still dreaming of that pizza. Similarly, our burger was actually made from ground lamb, which paired beautifully with the bottle of Samsara pinot noir we snagged for just $41.

A note on wine and service: The first bottle we ordered wasn’t quite right, and as someone who’s worked in the business a long time, I appreciated the cheerfulness of our server who speedily exchanged it. They’re looking to sell wine at Tin Roof Bistro, not make you feel awkward, which is a welcome change. Ask for Pablo Kovacs if he’s in—one of the nicest wine guys in the South Bay, and he’s certain to hook you up with a tasty, fair-priced bottle.

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