For an oyster-and-craft-beer hot date, Portsmouth in Whittier

Name of restaurant: Portsmouth, named for is seafood-heavy menu.

Concept: A very unpretentious neighborhood oyster bar with a dozen lightish local craft beers and an easy-drinking wine list, all meant to enhance the fresh seafood. Hip playlist too.


Chef: Daniel Salcido, who is behind the Whittier favorite Phlight wine and tapas bar. He also influenced the menu at Cities restaurant in East L.A.

What dish represents the restaurant, and why? One of each oyster written on the day's chalkboard, which might include an exceptionally meaty Fat Bastard or extra creamy DD Cup variety. They are undeniably fresh and each extremely satisfying, especially with a few drops of house-made mignonette sauce.

Runners-up: Zesty and meaty grilled kale with pomegranate seeds, chimichurri, pickled onion and red wine reduction, with the optional $3 add-on of grilled octopus or pork belly, of course. Crab esquite. Yup, Chef Salcido elevates the humble Mexican street food favorite of grilled corn here with a tall pile of roasted king crab, creamy aioli and cotija epazote foam. Lobster ceviche with fried kimchi is addictive. And last but definitely not least, the seafood rendition of a shepherd's pie, with plump shrimp and tender Pacific rockfish. Perfect for the chilliest of unusual L.A. cold spells.

Who's at the next table? On a Tuesday night, all locals, slurping oysters and sipping pints, sitting at the bar while chatting it up with the hardworking oyster shuckers and servers.

Appropriate for: An oyster-and-craft-beer hot date.

Uh-oh: They've only been open for about a month, so some menu items may be in the process of getting perfected.

Service: Attentive and helpful, especially if you can't decide which beer to get. My server was a happy beer geek.

What are you drinking? Jamaica Red Ale by Mad River Brewing on draft. It is the darkest brew on the menu and just malty enough to bring out the sweetness in their seafood. Also polished off a floral Chainbreaker White IPA by Deschutes that tasted really amazing on draft.

Portsmouth, 13103 Penn St., (562) 789-9700,


The Scouting Report is a quick look at restaurants worth a visit. Scouts were selected by restaurant critic Jonathan Gold, who may or may not agree with a single word.