Paul Martin’s American Bistro Debuts in El Segundo

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Paul Martin's American Bistro resides next to sister restaurant Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.

Paul Fleming of Paul Martin’s American Bistro resides next to sister restaurant Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and P.F. Chang’s opened Paul Martin’s American Bistro with partner Brian Bennett on February 25 at the base of an El Segundo office building. On February 21, I had a chance to preview the restaurant, and even though it was Paul Martin’s first day of service, chef-partner Paul Muller’s food was polished, which bodes well for the concept and for South Bay diners.

The first Paul Martin’s American Bistro resides in Roseville, which sits just north of Sacramento. Nelsen Henrich Interiors designed the sprawling 7,200-square-foot space in El Segundo. Thanks to Henrich’s natural design and soft lighting, you’ll soon forget you’re eating in a business park.

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The El Segundo location’s décor resembles the original, with brick, wood and polished concrete floors.

The market-driven El Segundo bistro primarily relies on local purveyors, featuring seasonal seafood and produce and free-range meats. The Paul Martin’s credo runs along the left edge of the menu: “eat ORGANIC. believe in SUSTAINABLE. buy LOCAL. Love FRESH.”

Artichoke Los Angeles

A whole Castroville Artichoke ($9.95) came brushed with olive oil, mesquite grilled until smoky and served with a dish of pesto aioli.

Shrimp Los Angeles

Shrimp Scampi ($14.95) was clearly the best dish of the night, featuring sweet, gigantic Pacific prawns, toy box tomatoes and garlic bread that perfectly soaked up the addictive garlic lemon butter.

Fish Los Angeles

Crisp-edged pan-fried Petrale sole ($21.95) fillets worked well with lemon-thyme butter. Paul Martin’s staffers take their accompaniments seriously, as evidenced by the roasted celery root and butternut squash cubes.

Steak Los Angeles

Skirt Steak ($19.95) came with slabs of roasted maple-bourbon sweet potato and lightly dressed arugula. The steak could have used a more pronounced sear, and a smaller arugula mound.

For customers interested in imbibing, the bistro offers 50 wines by the class from a California-centric list “with touches of the Pacific Northwest.” Fleming offered us tastes of his wife Kelly’s mineral-rich Sauvignon Blanc and fairly well balanced red, both produced in Calistoga. They also pour craft beers and cocktails made with house-infused vodkas.

Dessert Los Angeles

For dessert, crème brûlée was more interesting than normal, flavored with Meyer lemon and topped with tart citrus segments. Accompanying shortbread cookies could have used more shortening.

Overall, it seems like Paul Fleming and Brian Bennett might have a winning concept with Paul Martin’s American Bistro. The food could use a couple tweaks, but it’s already superior to most other concepts in the area and the price point is reasonable given the large portions.

Address: 2361 Rosecrans Avenue, El Segundo, CA 90245

Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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