Since 1982, restaurateur Michael Franks and chef Robert Bell have defied labeling by opening a restaurant that allows people to dress however they want and enjoy an eclectic menu with influences from around the world. Chez Melange, meaning a mixture or “place of many things,” started in an era of recession yet rise of contemporary American cuisine by adding European and Asian fusion to a menu that changed daily. Fast forward 35 years later, fusion cuisine and menu changes are very typical and seen in most restaurants today; but with a constant desire to innovate, Franks and Bell have re-branded Chez Melange by making it an umbrella for three restaurant concepts: Bouzy Gastropub, The Oyster Bar, and their newest addition Sea Change.
Although Bouzy Gastropub and The Oyster Bar (previously Bar Comida) have experienced great strides over the years, Sea Change is a particularly important addition because this concept is taking over what was once Chez Melange. By making Chez Melange the roof of these three concepts, Sea Change offers classic Chez Melange dishes while making everything else seafood-centric. Franks noticed how seafood has always been their most popular item, and probably due to the lack thereof in the Riviera Village in Redondo Beach. “People cook steaks at home, but they go out for fish because it’s delicate and easy to overcook. That and the interest in healthy dining come together, and they want fish for both everyday and special occasion meals. We can still be eclectic and original, just as we have been since 1982, but we’re going to have a focus on seafood.” Franks and Bell agree to always have a good steak on their menu, but the newly renovated Sea Change has opened doors for new technique and creativity, something that has always been their forte.
Sea Change, along with Bouzy and The Oyster Bar, is both chef-driven and market-driven with a menu that offers something new everyday. One of their most popular items include the Kung Pao Style Lobster with mushrooms, peanuts, chili, garlic, bell pepper, onion, micro radish sprouts, and steamed rice. Another local favorite includes the Zarzuela, a Spanish seafood stew made with shrimp, scallop, clams, calamari, fish, tomato, sherry, and cream with a side of fresh baguette to dip. If you’re craving an Asian fusion flair to your seafood, the Hawaiian Ono fish is pan roasted with Thai coconut curry broth, Japanese udon noodles, Asian mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, ginger, garlic, chili, micro cilantro, and sesame. For those who aren’t particularly into seafood, the menu has a section called “Chez Classics” which offers anything from Chicken Schnitzel to Sicilian Spaghetti.
Franks and Bell take pride in being creative culinary extraordinaires, owing it to decades of experimenting with food that have been considered new or unusual and turning it into a norm.