I love finding what feel like hidden or undiscovered restaurants when I go out to dine. You know, that place that is up a set of stairs, in an alleyway, or looks ramshackle on the outside but is frilly and frou-frou on the inside. These days in Manila, I spend most of my time chasing big-name restaurants that are working hard to open up multiple chains across the city and that serve underwhelming food at classy prices. I mostly expect the same from my restaurants in LA, and even more so from restaurants located inside hotels. Thus, I was really pleasantly surprised by "Second Story" in the boutique Hotel Belamar in Manhattan Beach.
I've probably driven past the hotel dozens of times in my life. It's essentially at the corner of PCH and Rosecrans, right across from the Fry's and the Manhattan Beach Mall. I have never noticed it though. Thus it was pretty surprising to find that a restaurant located inside this hotel was rated pretty highly online, just as it was surprising to find such a nice looking little boutique hotel right under my nose all this time. Perhaps a bit uncreatively named, Second Story is located on the second floor of the hotel, right off the lobby. It's split almost evenly in half, with a long bar curving left and behind as you walk in, and the dining room spreading out in front of it. Dim lighting, dark wood, muted colors are married with a subtle retro vibe and the Brady Bunch on screens by the hostess stand.
We were seated at the front of the restaurant, with a view of the parking lot. There were a few other tables occupied, some with tourists, others with people who looked to have gotten off work early, but the place was mostly empty, and mostly quiet. Granted, this was a Tuesday night. Even mostly empty though, the menus took a while to arrive, and placing our orders also required some patience. The menu was comprehensive, covering most of the major food bases, but not overwhelming. The alcohol menu was likewise. We arrived at six pm, which gave us access to an incredibly fair happy hour promo which offered a selection of appetizers and entrees as half price.
We started with a plate of Sicilian Meatball Sliders. I typically am not a huge fan of sliders, because I feel like food that comes in such a compact package should pack a flavor punch and am often disappointed with how bland sliders end up being. These Meatball Sliders were pretty good though, with a zesty tomato sauce dripping off a tasty meatball on a soft bun. I had the Pork Tenderloin, with coleslaw and blue cheese mashed potatoes as sides. I would have liked the potatoes slightly more moist and slightly less blue-cheesey, but that's just personal preference. The portion sizes generous. We finished off with the Warm Bread Pudding, a delectably rich, gooey, and sweet concoction that went perfectly with the side of vanilla ice cream.
Second Story isn't a cheap restaurant by any calculation. Expect to pay at least 25 dollars a piece for a shared three course meal with drinks. Even with happy hour, we ended up paying over 40 dollars for two. Yet, given the entire experience, it's still a no-brainer for a dinner if you're in the area. It's also not so far from LAX, so it makes a perfect venue for a meal before seeing a friend off. If you can get there before happy hour ends at 7pm, all the better - save yourself some money or eat more.
Second Story at the Belamar | 2nd Floor, The Belamar Hotel, 3501 N. Sepulveda Boulevard, Manhattan Beach, CA, 90266 | 1.310.750.0312
Apologies again for the quality of the pictures!
Sicilian Meatball Sliders