Reviewed by Danny Walker

My Fine Dining Standard - Baleen - **New Standard**

Visited: February 7th, 2008
Location: 260 Portofino Way, Redondo Beach, CA 90277 (in the Portofino Hotel and Yacht Club) (map) (link)

Unpretentious South Bay fine dining featuring finer views and a quality surf and turf menu.

Deeper Insights:

Baleen is a great setting for a business meeting or an intimate date with your sweetheart. The courses look small, but the broadly appealing selections of succulent surf and turf are sure to leave you satisfied.

Categories:

Attitude: Fine dining/high class but not snooty.

Bread: Four rolls with butter served warm prior to the appetizers.

Crowd: High-end working class with the occasional couple on a date.

D├ęcor: Dark, classy and not overwhelming. Great hanging lamps with signature monkeys hanging from them.

Dress: Men in suits and women in dresses.

Drinks: Wine ranging from $23 - 100+ excellent selection of bottles, but could use more half bottle options.

Hours: Breakfast: 6:30a.m. - 11:30a.m. Monday - Friday, and 7:00a.m. - 2:00p.m. Saturday - Sunday; Lunch: 11:30a.m. - 3:00p.m. daily; Dinner: 6:00p.m. - 10:00p.m. daily

Line: Reservation's recommended, but walk-ins welcome. Reservations at (800) 468-4292 or at Open Table

Music: Soft, indistinct background music.

Order to Service: Appetizers came out about 15-20 minutes after ordering and the rest of the courses were served with 7-10 minutes in between - enough to let the previous course settle, but no snail's pace either.

Parking: Valet (for a charge) and self-parking available between the restaurant and hotel.

Payment Options: All major credit cards accepted.

People Watching: Mostly older business types - not many standouts amongst diners. Waitresses are attractive, have good personalities, and have excellent knowledge of the wine list. Come for the food, not the pick-up opportunities.

Seating: Various sized tables available from 2 to 8 are easily accommodated.

Smoking: Outside the restaurant.

Water: Free ice water poured immediately upon seating with consistent refilling throughout dinner.

What I Ate:

Crispy Latin Style Crab Cakes (Heirloom Tomato Jam, Guacamole, Lime Sour Cream): Good appetizer for those who are not big seafood fans. Could use a bit more of the tomato salsa and guacamole in order to maintain the unique flavor throughout the large amount of crab meat. $13

Roquefort Crusted Filet (Short Rib Hash, Potato Puree, Roquefort Fondue, Asparagus): Easily the best part the meal, the steak had excellent flavor, was cooked to perfection and will appeal to steak eaters interested in jazzing up the typical piece of meat. $40

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake: Cheesecake served with caramel and crushed pecans was a great way to finish the meal with a good portioned slice and level of sweetness. It was particularly moist, which is always appreciated in a cheesecake. $11

Cost: $38 for meal (before tax and tip) as part of the DineLA Restaurant Week

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