Within a short couple of blocks in downtown Manhattan Beach, chef David LeFevre has done contemporary cooking at MB Post, seafood at Fishing With Dynamite — and now he's getting ready to open a steakhouse at the Arthur J.
The restaurant, his third with partners Mike, Chris and Tom Simms, should be open in May.
"Right now we're just going down our checklists and making sure everything gets done," LeFevre says. "The concept and the cuisine are the hard parts and all that stuff was done last September through January."
The 90-odd-seat restaurant is in a Midcentury Modern building LeFevre describes as "Palm Desert meets the beach."
Jerry Garbus, a partner at both MB Post and Fishing With Dynamite, will also be onboard there, designing the cocktail program and wine list.
Named after the Simms' grandfather, whom they describe as a legendary character around the South Bay, the Arthur J. will be centered around a massive J&R Wood Fire Char Broiler hardwood grill.
"This one is all about the beef," LeFevre says. "We'll have USDA prime, bone-in, dry-aged and wet-aged as well as certified Angus and some wagyu.
"This is going to be centered around great beef, simple preparations and a wood-fired grill. We'll be choosing great product and using live fire to make that beef taste incredible."
A steakhouse might come as a surprise to those who think of LeFevre as primarily a seafood cook from his time at Water Grill downtown and at Fishing With Dynamite, but he says one of his formative professional cooking experiences was working the grill station at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago.
"It's all about the flavor," he says. "The thing I loved about Charlie's food was that you put it in your mouth and it popped. There was always high acidity, but also the oak and alderwood on the grill, that smoky live wood really adds a great flavor.
"I still look back at those days when I was working at Trotter's with that grill and that was some of the best meat I've ever cooked."
Besides beef, the Arthur J. will also feature classic steakhouse dishes — updated, but not too much, LeFevre says. Think things like pot roast, pot pie, wedge salad and shrimp cocktail.
"We want the food to be simple but not boring," he says. "We'll have some classic dishes, but with a twist. But we're still not going to try to reinvent the wheel.
"We want to do a classic reinterpretation of the dishes. If we do a shrimp cocktail, we want it to be something a little unique, but not so unique it's not a shrimp cocktail anymore."
The Arthur J, 903 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach.