Hermosa may be giving Manhattan Beach’s fancy pants restaurants a run for their money with the newly opened Baran’s 2239. Situated in a mini-mall with a historically high turnover, the parking lot is now habitually full, and the tables inside of the intimate space are fully occupied. Baran is the last name of Jonathan and Jason, the two brothers who own the place, and 2239 was the street number of their grandparents’ longstanding Pasadena restaurant.
There is a nice selection of microbrews and an interesting winelist. It was a surprise to be charged for the bread, but that is the trend in the South Bay with specialty breads like biscuits and English muffins. The focaccia here at Baran’s is definitely worth 5 bucks, fresh and crusted with melted Parmesan. The restaurant serves a large selection of cheese and charcuterie, either to begin your meal or to accompany your wine.
Executive Chef Tyler Gugliotta, most recently at The Tasting Kitchen in Venice, has created a menu that is current, but he also has a little fun with it. The restaurant follows the shared plates model, although the serving sizes vary. On our first visit, we ordered 2 plates per person, but we would have been satisfied by one plate each and an extra to share.
There are some staples on the menu, like the poutine with duck confit, but the menu is changeable depending on the season, the bounty of Gugliotta’s family farm, and his mood. Some of the dishes, like the crab and shrimp sausage on toast, could be classified as starters. From amongst these menu items, I recommend the hamachi crudo with passion fruit in spite of its marked acidity. From the selection of salads and vegetables, the endive salad with goat cheese and strawberries baked to a jamlike flavor and the white asparagus playfully disguised as a penne dish with chanterelles and hazelnuts.
We will have to return to check out their play on a Scotch egg made with lamb sausage and curry jus, the quail with a date glaze and preserved lemon, and their popular smoked and fried chicken. This restaurant is destined to be so successful, let’s just hope we can still get a reservation.