Four Score

Playa Provisions wakes up a sleepy strip with a delicious quartet.

In the late ‘70s a regular visit to Playa del Rey always included a visit to my dad’s barbershop for a bowl cut in Jesse’s chair. And I can honestly tell you pretty much nothing has changed on that stretch of Culver Boulevard since then. 

The barbershop pole still turns in the strip mall, and the occasional drunk stumbles out of Prince O’Whales on a weekday afternoon. Ah, memories.

Given its penchant for status quo, you can imagine my surprise at the recent arrival of Playa Provisions. Actually, what surprises me most is how long it took for a cool eatery to open shop there. 

Its position at the very end of Culver, right after that hard left turn on Ocean into El Segundo, sets the stage for a beachy banquet of ice cream, seafood and whiskey awaiting inside. Not in that order—or necessarily all together.

South Bay trailblazers and celebrated chefs Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts, fresh off the success of Redondo’s Hudson House bar and The Tripel, finally bring something new to the neighborhood they call home. “We want Playa Provisions to be the place where adults want to come for date night but also the place the kids beg to go for ice cream after the beach,” Brooke says. 

That place is a 7,000-square-foot, four-in-one concept smack against the sand, designed by DEX Design Studio. The bright and modern space features: Dockside, an inventive, seasonal seafood dining room; King Beach, a sandwich and fresh salad marketplace; Small Batch, a homemade ice cream counter; and Grain, a sexy and intimate whiskey bar. 

The vibe is coastal, casual and cool … not unlike a lobster bake at a really slick house on The Strand. Dockside offers unfussy seafood fare, including delicious fresh lobster and clam chowder, plus some creative options like the lobster twice-baked potato, stuffed clams with quinoa and prosciutto, and “crab pops” with Dungeness crab wrapped in a snow crab claw. Throw in some cornbread, a “hair of the dog” and a seat near the fire pit on the patio, and you’ll be smooth-sailing.

Grain brings in the hip happy hour crowd with a menu of 55 types of whiskey, including five varieties of Pappy Van Winkle’s and the chef couple’s in-house, barrel-aged whiskey. Traditional cocktail options include the Manhattan and an old-fashioned, as well as more unexpected concoctions such as the ginger highball and a Kentucky maid. 

If you’re lucky enough to be nearby at lunch hour, the venue can be equally appealing in daytime. Small Batch takes homemade to a new level with standouts like the horchata and blackberry popsicle and the oatmeal cookie ice cream sandwich with marshmallow ice cream. 

King Beach elaborates on traditional breakfast and lunch fare with nontraditional versions such as the turkey and bacon sausage sandwich with Gruyère, vinegar-cooked collards and the fried egg with avocado and pickled habañero hot sauce on ciabatta. 

Someday I’m going to swing by around noon to see if Jesse’s caught on to the new eatery. Perhaps you can teach an old dog new tricks.  

Playa Provisions
119 Culver Boulevard in Playa del Rey

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