Written by Jennie Nunn
The city of Torrance has long been known for its stretch of beaches, mild temps and notable residents and athletes, including late Olympian and World War II veteran and hero Louis Zamperini and five-time world figure skating champion and Olympian Michelle Kwan.
Now, thanks to the opening of 21 Square Bar + Kitchen located in the Torrance Marriott Redondo Beach hotel directly across from the revamped Del Amo Fashion Center, the historic city is also reemerging as a culinary destination. “Torrance has changed dramatically over several years and will continue to exceed the expectations of those that find this hidden gem,” says Victoria K. Wakefield, director of food and beverage at Marriott International.
The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and features an outdoor terrace and modern fire pit-turned-table. “21 Square is the quintessential destination for all things SoCal, where you can dine, play and entertain both indoors or outdoors,” says Victoria. “We have provided an escape for our hotel guests and a place for locals to hang out with the games, hammocks or new picnic tables and Coastal Hour [happy hour] events that make this location unique to so many other restaurants in the city.”
The aptly-named eatery, designed as a nod to the 21-square-mile city incorporated in 1921, serves handcrafted coastal comfort food with a twist by executive chef Victor Miguel. The inventive menu is divided into categories such as Quick Bites + Shareables, Local Greens, On Bread, Knife + Fork and Endings.
For breakfast, try the chicken + bacon waffles with maple syrup and French toast bricks with salted caramel bananas. Lunch and dinner starters and shared plates span charred cauliflower with golden raisins and toasted hazelnuts, freshly made flatbreads (we recommend the pesto + heirloom tomato salad with fresh mozzarella, basil, chives and evoo) and shaved Brussels sprouts with pickled onions, candied pecans and cider vinaigrette.
Larger plates include the Madrona burger made with Strauss family grass-fed beef, grafton cheddar, pecanwood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion ($1 donation benefits nearby Madrona Marsh Conservation); the Absolution Ale fish & chips (served in a beer can from the local brewery); and the seared Loch Duart salmon with vegetable succotash and chipotle corn sauce. Desserts include Vic’s Banana S’more with chocolate ganache, housemade marshmallows and graham cracker crust, and a warm croissant bread pudding with a bourbon glaze and vanilla bean ice cream.
Handmade, “recklessly crafted” cocktails, an assortment of bottled beers, beers on tap and bourbon flights are highlights from the bar. For a light, refreshing option order the J. Collins with Fuju vodka, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, soda water and garnished with perfectly curled lemon rinds. Or opt for the Night Cap with Templeton rye whiskey, maple syrup, chocolate bitters and scorched orange oil.
The restaurant is awash in varying hues of charcoal, pewter, copper and navy blue. Old black-and-white films of bygone days in Torrance play on a wall across from the main concrete bar flanked with Danish modern woven barstools. The eatery is lined with light grey wooden floors and industrial-style glass pendant lamps.
“You don’t feel like you are in a hotel restaurant, and you certainly forget you are next to the largest mall in Southern California,” adds Victoria. “Our menu changes frequently with nightly dishes featuring local ingredients and is evolving as we speak.” Get ready to loosen your belt buckle.
3635 Fashion Way in Torrance 310-543-6034