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Jul 22, 2013 06:23 AM

Chez Soi, Mark Gold's new restaurant in Manhattan Beach

The reviews on this restaurant have been mixed so far. Frankly there are not many fine dinning restaurants in the South Bay and when I heard that Mark Gold was going to open a restaurant in Manhattan Beach, I was so happy! Having eaten at restaurants where he previously cooked at over the past 10 years, I was looking forward to Chez Soi.

Given the mixed reviews, I was somewhat reluctant to eat at this restaurant. Last Friday evening, I had to make reservations for 6 people at short notice and was happy that they could accommodate the last minute reservation for 7:30pm.

Here are my thoughts on this restaurant. The restaurant is much too large to support a fine dining format in the South Bay. There is a very nice lounge which probably attracts a much younger crowd. Here is probably problem #1. The people who are attracted to a beach type lounge will not appreciate the type of food typically found in a restaurant like this.

Problem #2, the servers are not very well trained. Probably part timers unlike servers on the Westside, West Hollywood, Mid-Wilshire or downtown LA restaurants. The service was very spotty at best.

The positives: Mark's cooking is as good as ever. I think beside MB Post, there isn't another restaurant in the South Bay that comes close for this level of cooking. Everyone in the party enjoyed the dinner tremendously. The bartender who did the mixed drinks (did not get his name) was very good. We ordered cocktails at the bar before dinner and was impressed.

Given the challenges I listed, I am not sure if this restaurant will survive. If not, I look forward to dinning at the next restaurant that Mark will be associated with.

Any thoughts or comments?

PS, the fried chicken was as good as Eva!

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  1. They opened very badly with an expensive menu that they couldn't execute and very poor service. There were long waits for mediocre food, and even when they acknowledged that they had made mistakes or delivered food that did not match the menu description, they didn't comp anything. Their reputation is so low based on those experiences that it would be a miracle for them to survive - they offended their natural crowd. It's unfortunate because they have gotten much better recently, and I had a very good dinner there a few weeks ago.

    2 Replies
    1. re: FoodObsessive

      That is too bad. Good restaurants are hard to come by in the South Bay. Going back again for brunch, hopefully it was as good a dinner.

      1. re: KTLA

        Chez Soi was bad from the word GO. Thierry made us wait in the bar, where there was no staff to serve and the bar was three deep with 20-somethings. He then tried to seat us next to the rear door of the kitchen, after we requested an outdoor table. Oh, the patio was empty, other than the "beautiful people" that he was chatting up. We were finally seated outside. Mark's food was all poorly executed. He was in the kitchen, arguing with the line cooks in plain view.

        Bottom line - Thierry is a crook; this isn't the first time that he has absconded without paying bills. Mark was eager to make a new start, and made a bad decision to partner with an unscrupulous "businessman."

    2. I haven't dined there yet but I did have his steak tartare at the Angeleno Live and Dine event. IMO, one of the best steak tartares I've had in LA - very high quality beef, cut expertly, very chunky style (which I prefer), with just the perfect amount of acid and fat to enhance but not obscure the flavor and texture of the beef.

          1. re: ns1

            Rent bill posted on front door....$65,778.41 due.

            1. re: wienermobile

              Can some restauranteur/landlord tell me how many months worth of rent that is? Cuz that can't possibly be one month...right?

              1. re: ns1

                It says on the Notice that it was due from 1/1/13 - 8/31/13...... So with my bad math skills, I'm guessing about $8250 a month....

                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                  He hadn't paid any rent at all since January? Wow.

                  It will be interesting to see what goes in next. It's a high traffic location that could make money if it had a well-run business in there - Petros is adjacent and nearly always buzzing.

          2. re: soniabegonia

            Well, Thierry Perez has NEVER had his name attached to a successful restaurant, so why does this come as any big surprise?
            As soon as he showed up at Fraiche, it went down hill, and rapidly. Either location!
            As to L'Epicerie, doa from the start.
            As to this place, probably equally so, as MB is tough for outsiders not named Simms, Sanford, or Zislis.

            1. re: carter

              Disagree on MB being all about Simms, Sanford, and Zislis. Most people here had never heard of David LeFevre before he came here, and it hasn't hurt FwD or MB Post. If Thierry and Mark had come in with a good restaurant they would have been welcomed - they came in with a muddy concept and didn't get their execution together until it was too late. A big name with the same concept would have gotten the same result.

                1. re: KTLA

                  I don't think the Simms name has anything to do with their success - they are professional operators, but haven't had anything to do with the creative side. Anybody from anywhere could have come in with LeFevre at the helm and had the same result. Likewise, Simms couldn't have saved Chez Soi with Perez running things.

                  1. re: FoodObsessive

                    You what?
                    Without the money to create the opportunity for David, there would be no MB Post as we know it today, nor Fishing, etc.
                    You think Connie & Ted's is only about Cimarusti?
                    You might want to talk to Craig Nickoloff, the former owner of Claim Jumper who provided all the dinero.
                    As to all things Bestia, Rivera, Petty Cash, Mess Hall, Picca, etc., none would be known if it were not for the money and foresight of Bill Chait & a certain Getty.
                    That is just the way restaurant chefs come out of the shadows - big time money helps them get there.
                    Simms has been a fixture in downtown MB since forever - you do know the Kettle on that corner has been around for around 40 years - I do hope you know who owns it.
                    You are aware of the Mimi's Cafe restaurant chain, founded as an off-shoot of the French Market in West Hollywood, and ultimately sold to Bob Evans Restaurants from Ohio. Another Simms operation now from the past.
                    And as to Simms not being able to save Chez Soi - he would not have hired Perez in the first place, so your point is moot.

                    1. re: carter

                      FoodObsessive said that s/he didn't think "the Simms name" had to do with the success. Everything you said has to do with money from (and business acumen of) the investors, and not just the name.*

                      It takes resources on both the creative and the business ends to have success.

                      *Of course one can argue that having Simms' name attached to a project may be a good indicator that a place will be successful, but that's based on his track record and not superficial name-checking.

                      1. re: carter

                        Your post seemed to imply that unless a local operator like Zislis or Simms was behind a project, locals would not support it. I disagree - the Simms pick good people and then allow them a lot of latitude to realize their vision. Any investor who is smart enough to do that would have the same result, and the Simms or Zislis name won't save a bad operation. Zislis poured money into Mucho and it failed, so his considerable reputation wasn't enough.

                        1. re: FoodObsessive

                          Couple of major issues with this restaurant. The space is much too large. Bet you the rent for 5000 plus sq ft in the Metlox Plaza is probably $20000 per month. Second problem is Thierry Perez. The original Fraiche has rather poor service and Thierry would even yell at customers! Put the two together and the restaurant was doom from the start. I just feel bad for Mark Gold to be associated with this unfortunate venture.

                          1. re: KTLA

                            If you use math, by looking at the notice, the rent came out to be about $8300 a month.....

                          2. re: FoodObsessive

                            I agree with you FO. Darren has made it without backing from other locals. The Abigaile's team has succeeded with multiple restaurants now in the beach cities. La Sosta has been there for many years - pricy, authentic Italian. I never thought they'd survive.

                            I'm just glad we finally do have at least a bit of a dining culture at the beach!

                  2. re: carter

                    Actually, Thierry Perez was at Fraiche from even before its opening, along with Jason Travi. Fraiche's downhill run started when Jason left.

                    1. re: New Trial

                      Agree - people came in for the food, did not return because of the service.

                  1. re: PeterCC

                    Drama is great for movies though not for restaurants.

                    1. re: kevin

                      A new steak house from Orange County called Nick's taking over the space. Any one heard of the place?

                      1. re: wienermobile

                        There's a Nick's in either Laguna Beach or Corona del Mar. The restaurant should be decent though nothing earth-shattering or even great.

                        1. re: kevin

                          That's a pretty apt description of Nick's in Laguna Beach and San Clemente. Not a steak house really though. They also opened up a Mexican restaurant in San Clemente as well. I didn't realize that there was a Long Beach location.


                    1. re: wienermobile

                      ….and it is the same Nick's that both Kevin and JAB have mentioned. It is opening 3rd quarter 2014.