Those who find themselves awake and hungry in the middle of the night anywhere near Manhattan Beach are in luck. Here you find The Kettle, which never closes. Still on eastern time and therefore ready for breakfast at 3am, I recently popped in and found myself among local cops on a break, dating couples rounding out their night, and a motley collection of well-behaved insomniacs.
I’ve seen The Kettle referred to as a diner, and while it does share qualities with that genus of eatery (reasonable prices, square meals, counter seating, quick service, and egalitarian mien), it really is something different: a classic southern California coffee shop. That means it is more middle class than blue collar, with unique decorative pizzazz (chandeliers, log-cabin rustic armchairs at the counter, extra plush bench seats in the booths), a menu several cuts above greasy-spoon status (have a mimosa with your meal), and hospitable service by a staff who likely won’t call you hon’ or dear. While many diners are breakfast-and-lunch joints, coffee shops serve three meals a day. At The Kettle, it’s breakfast all day and supper from 5pm. I’ve yet to have lunch or supper (looking forward to braised pot roast and weekend-only baby back ribs); breakfasts are outstanding.
If yours doesn’t come with muffins, order some. Moderate size, they are plated in pairs, preferably warmed up if not oven-warm at that moment. I like honey bran best – they’re sweet and oily with especially broad, crisp-edge tops – but other winners include carrot-raisin, banana-nut, and blueberry crumb.
From the griddle come bananas Foster French toast and stacks of big, handsome pancakes, including a winning combo of blueberry buttermilk pancakes with house-made cranberry maple granola. Benedicts include California (with avocado), smoked trout, and crab cake Benedict in which the hollandaise has an orange-cilantro twist. Still to try for breakfast: oeufs pain perdu, buttermilk honey fried chicken and biscuits, and the hangover scramble.