By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer
The historic Palos Verdes Art Center has brought an exciting new addition to the culinary scene on the peninsula.
Since its renovation two years ago, much has changed at the Art Center. The new executive director, Joe Baker, was there to oversee its redesign. For visitors to the art center, a new eating establishment Stripe Cafe was part of the revamp.
Stripe Café Executive Chef Brett Hickey’s. The focus is on plant-based fare, with farm-to-table options highlighting his conscious cuisine.
“We really see this as a place to bring the community together by using food,” Hickey said. “In a sense, going back in time, where food is fresh, organic and more natural. We want everything to be made here; we make everything in-house and we bring the seasons in, while having good, quality food and good prices.”
The grilled vegetable tartine sandwich is a perfect example of Hickey’s commitment to highlighting vegetables on his menu. The sandwich, made with whole grain bread, features an avocado goat cheese smear nestled under fresh grilled vegetable, piquillo peppers and baba ghanoush.
“It’s a sandwich that will make staunch meat eaters love vegetables” the chef said.
Not to say that this is a vegetarian restaurant. The most popular item on the menu is the short-rib grilled cheese sandwich. The restaurant braises the ribs for 24 hours, adding caramelized onions and grated, fresh horseradish root to highlight the flavor.
Every restaurant needs a hamburger on the menu. At Stripe, the hamburger patty is made with a mixture of short rib, chuck and hangar steak, ground fresh in-house to provide a unique flavor profile. Each burger is served with a house-made aioli on fresh-baked focaccia bread to absorb all the juices. Add duck fat potatoes and you just may glimpse culinary heaven.
Hickey grew up in Long Beach and left when he was 18 to spend four years training at Johnson and Wales Culinary College in Denver. Upon completion, he traveled to Europe and spent time cooking in Italy and Croatia. Through his school he enrolled in a study-abroad program in Peru.
“Because my mom worked for the airlines, I have had an opportunity to travel and sample many different cuisines,” he said. “California is the best place in the world for food and produce. I love going to the Long Beach farmers market each week and looking for what’s best.
The cafe is open for lunch, but pop-up dinners have already become highly anticipated special events. The June dinner menu included salt-roasted pork and clams, grilled octopus and seared scallops.
Hickey’s menu is full of delightful surprises: salmon smoked each day, Nutella latte, lavender-infused olive oil cake topped with lemon curd, and daily fresh soups. The chef’s favorite is tomato soup made with imported San Marzano tomato, roasted in-house with roasted garlic. A carrot–ginger soup made with miso and lemongrass is also a standout.
Are you hungry yet? Well I am. So I think I will be going back for Gabriela’s tacos. Each morning Hickey makes a stop at a Long Beach tortilleria to pick up fresh masa for his handmade tortillas, and gives you a choice of delicious fillings: short rib, organic chicken or shrimp.
I suggest you make this your next lunch date.
Time: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday
Details: (310) 541.2479; pvartcenter.org
Venue: Stripe Café at Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes