Menu Review at American Farmhouse Tavern & Dining Hall, Manhattan Beach

You’re not in Kansas anymore! For patrons of American Farmhouse Tavern & Dining Hall, that’s a good thing. They’ve taken Santa Maria style barbecue and paired it with stylish farmhouse décor for an experience that’s rustic and elegant at the same time. Spoiler alert: The food is good too.

The Farmhouse, Then and Now

I visited American Farmhouse in August for a re-introduction to the restaurant. Foodies in the know might recall American Farmhouse at a location other than their present spot, just a few blocks up the street. With the departure of Szechwan, American Farmhouse chef and owner Orlando Novoa saw an opportunity to expand their operation and took over the location. With the move came a liquor license and plenty of room to work with.

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Getting a lesson in the history of the original farmhouse back in Oklahoma.

Inside, the walls are covered with pictures that evoke farm life from the early 1900s. Keeping true to their theme, the pictures and décor are from the Oklahoma home of the chef-owner’s wife Kristen. Quilts hanging on the walls were made by her grandmother and tractor seats at the bar are original pieces from her family’s farm.

Getting Into the Menu

The first thing I noticed coming into the restaurant was the sweet smell of a smoky grill. Just outside the back door is the Farmhouse’s signature pit grill, fueled by red oak wood and complete with a turn spit. The grill is the key to the “ranch style” flavor of their grilled meats and vegetables.

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Featuring an authentic Santa Maria style grill fueled by sustainably gathered red oak wood.

Speaking of vegetables, entrées from the dinner menu are rounded out nicely by complimentary stews and side dishes. Each dish is accompanied by a deconstructed stew, allowing diners to mix their soup just the way they’d like with broth, cattleman beans, and Santa Maria style salsa.

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Do it yourself stew with vegetables and broth, cattlemans beans, and salsa.

Also included is a seasonal wedge salad with a choice of dressing. I tried the salad with the house made Cabernet vinaigrette and found the dressing delicious.

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Forget the other dressings! Go for the Caberney Vinaigrette and be amazed.

Fresh off the grill, the entrees continued to please where the stew and salad left off. I sampled the Spit Roasted Cornish Game Hen ($23), the Atlantic Salmon ($25) , and a Santa Maria style tri-tip.

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Santa Maria style tri-tip.

All of the meats were true to their flavor but were smoky and succulent from the grill. I need to get some red oak for grilling at home!

Each entrée also includes “something sweet”, an after dinner liqueur or a scoop of sherbet or ice cream. I tried both (don’t judge) and was won over by the liquer which had the essence of a Bailey’s and cream.

After dinner, the group I was dining with retreated to a room in the back of the restaurant. Decked out with a rosy pool table and seating for twenty or so, this hall would be great for a private dinner or small celebration.

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Playing pool in the private dining room.

Another thing that has been wanting to get back to American Farmhouse is their happy hour. Starting early during the week (4-6:30 PM, Monday – Friday) and late on the weekends (9 – Midnight, Friday – Saturday), their happy hour seems reasonably priced to the point of being a bargain given the quality of the food and the vibe of the venue. They also have daily specials like Wino Wednesday and my favorite: Thirsty Thursday.

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Happy hour and daily specials are sure to keep the "farm hands" coming back for more and more.

I didn’t visit American Farmhouse at their old location but I’m happy to have been introduced to them at their current one. Given the grill, the cocktails, and the fun farmhouse theme, I’m sure they will be setting the standard for Taverns & Dining Halls for a while.

PS: American Farmhouse is also participating in dineLA’s Restaurant Week for Fall 2011. Check out their fixed priced lunch for $16 or dinner for $26. Both are great deals!

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About the Author

Michael loves grilling, rum, and has a weakness for key lime pie.

One Response to “Menu Review at American Farmhouse Tavern & Dining Hall, Manhattan Beach”

  1. Well I’m sad that Szechwan is gone but glad to try something new too. I like how they kept the menu here simple yet updated if that makes sense.