Fan of longtime Manhattan Beach restaurant Darren’s were likely devastated when founder and chef Darren Weiss closed the place after a 12-year run. The veteran chef, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America and trained in Hawaii before opening Catalina Cafe in Redondo Beach in 2005, has long beat the odds as a humble and dedicated restaurateur — and now he’s ready to do it again.
Weiss returned to the South Bay this summer with Fox and Farrow, an English hunting lodge-inspired gastropub that serves Asian and Pacific Rim-inflected fare alongside familiar British favorites like shepherd’s pie, pheasant sausage, and sautéed quail over fingerling potatoes. Fox and Farrow, which opened four weeks ago in a space adjacent to the longtime Underground sports bar, has a grown-up sit-down vibe inside thanks to its wood-lined bar and cushy lounge seating. Diners can also catch the restaurant’s nifty beach view, with waves visible from Fox and Farrow’s second-floor perch along Hermosa Avenue.
Weiss, who was born deaf, has worked to overcome challenges both in the kitchen and in the dining room of his successful businesses, inspiring many along the way. In the past, he has hosted deaf students from Europe as a way to show others that deafness doesn’t have to limit one’s role in any workplace. Prior to Fox and Farrow, Weiss was cooking at Chelsea, a sort of clubby lounge co-owned by his brother Seth, who continues to operate the space as Fox and Farrow, and remains a co-owner of the next door Underground.
At Fox and Farrow, the menu is meant to be a mostly timeless pan-cultural rendition of gastropub food. The restaurant’s new duck confit salad with blue cheese and wild berry dressing might seem lifted out of the late aughts, while Weiss’s signature salmon with sweet Thai chile and peanut curry, crispy rice cake, and pickled cucumber takes a page from the Wolfgang Puck textbook of fusion cuisine. Shareable plates include sliders, pulled pork tostadas, grilled pork spare ribs, and braised buffalo shoulder risotto. The duck orecchiette pasta might be the highlight of the menu, showing Weiss’s skill in layering unexpected flavors with cooking finesse. Umami-rich shiitake mushrooms and fresh spring peas settle into a balanced herb-cream sauce and al dente pasta, served in portions big enough for two. As for drinks, there’s an array of classics like negronis and manhattans (along with a chocolate martini of all things), though others like the Sly Fox blends whisky, St. Germain, tuaca brandy, and lemon juice.
With Fox and Farrow, Hermosa Beach gains another dinner destination in a part of South Bay that only rarely offers much in the way of upscale-ish, composed dinner possibilities — though in recent years, restaurants like Steak and Whisky, Mosa, Decadence, and Sosta have helped round out the beach city’s motley dining scene.
Fox and Farrow is open Tuesday to Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and until 10:30 p.m. on weekends. Closed Mondays.