At Brews Hall in Torrance, drink up to a fun dining experience
The crew behind the new Brews Hall at Del Amo sure know how to have fun. And they thoughtfully share that fun with all of us. Or at least, with those of us who like craft beer, sports on innumerable big screens, and enough culinary choices to keep hunger at bay, and to even feed us better than you might expect of a brewery/bar/food hall.
No surprise, since they’re also the people who brought us Rock ’n Brews, which is about as entertaining a restaurant as any I‘ve ever been to. These are restaurants where you can let down your hair, wear your oldest Adidas and their funkiest jeans — and fit in just fine.
Brews Hall sits in a new development just south of Del Amo Fashion Center, in a former vacant lot that’s now also home to a Ralphs and a CVS. The Rock ’n Brews folks have long spoken of their desire to open their own brewery. And this space at Del Amo Circle East at Carson in Torrance is pretty much perfect — large enough for all the shiny tanks necessary for a brewery, but central enough that aficionados of the suds don’t have to confuse Waze with obscurely rural addresses.
The brews here have names like Buzzrock, Herd, Rat Beach and Ta Loco. And they’re good, very good in fact; I’d expect nothing less from Mike Zislis and his well-soused crew of brewery critters. (Some years ago, I bumped into one of his brew masters drinking at another beer joint. It was his day off. His spent the day…drinking beers he hadn’t tasted before. As I recall he was especially intrigued by the variant called sour beer. Thanks to that encounter, so am I.)
The Hall consists of many long tables, polished copper tanks, and of course an open ceiling with lots of ribbing and duct work; you really do have a sense of dining in a brewery, which is, of course, exactly what you’re doing.
The beer is ordered at the bar, and served with admirable haste to impressively thirsty locals. The chow is ordered in a food area to the right as you enter — four stands in a row, with a good selection of chows — as long as Mexican, deep-fried chicken, grilled fish, and many burgers are the selection you like with your beer.
And actually, the options are just right for the space and the beverage. This is not a place where you sedately sip on a sherry while pondering the runniness of a well-aged brie. This is an elbows-on-the-table kind of place — loose, somewhat nutty, a hot spot in which to get goofy.
And so, it works well to begin with George Lopez’s Chingon Kitchen, a cheerful assortment of familiar Mexican antojitos that work just perfectly with a pilsner or an IPA. Or anything else with a foamy head on it.
The guacamole is a simple creation, not messed up with modernist touches — just classic guac with classic chips and salsa.
The Caesar salad is made with tortilla strips rather than croutons, which is a tad perverse, for croutons are a guilty pleasure of mine, especially if they’re really herby. There are sundry taco options, made with flour, corn or cauliflower, tortillas, packed with carnitas, carne asada, chicken or veggies. There are burritos and taquitos. But even better is the street corn, slathered with crema and queso fresco and chili powder. Terrific beer food.
The strange word in Chicken TWILI is an acronym for “The Way I Like It,” a notion by co-owner Dave Furano, who wants his chicken buttermilk fried, Nashville spicy and marinated grilled, served on a gluten-free bun with pickles and slaw. Wings come three ways, there’s a chicken Cobb, there are lots of dipping sauces. The food is as friendly as can be imagined. Even the chicken in the logo is giving it a thumbs up. What’s not to love?
The Rock ’n Fish Grill is a reflection of the good seafood served at Rock ’n Fish, a greatest hits collection of a proper New England clam chowder, crispy calamari; fish either grilled, blackened or battered; fish ’n chips and a crispy fish sandwich. The chips are British style. The wood grilled artichoke is pure us.
And finally, legendary sports broadcaster Colin Cowherd brings us The Herd: Burgers Bets & Brews. The “bets” are theoretical only, with no one taking wagers on the Lakers. But the burgers — a choice of five — are real enough. My favorite is the one called “The Favorite,” topped with bacon, jack cheese, garlic aioli, lettuce, tomato and fried onions.
There’s an Italian chopped salad called “Wise Guy.” There are five options for fries — listed as “Side Bets” — including a “Bases Loaded” pile, with bacon, cheese, scallions and aioli.
For dessert, there’s a “Strawberry Shortstop” — sugar cookies, strawberry ice cream and sprinkles. Nothing is named for local sports teams — Dodger Dogs exist only at Dodger Stadium.