Event - The Federal Bar Tasting


[Giveaway details at bottom of post] One month ago today, Knitting Factory Entertainment (KFE) opened its second The Federal Bar location, this time in Long Beach. About a week after the official opening, I took a step into the old bank building to taste their menu - the same one (for now) as their North Hollywood location's which was put together by Chef Shad Davis. Plans for a brunch menu are in the works which will actually be developed by the chefs onsite, Chef Victor Lopez and Chef Anthony Overton, making it a unique feature at this Long Beach location.


Before I could even sit down to enjoy their menu however, I was struck by the beauty of the building itself. Prior to The Federal Bar's residency, the building was Madison Steakhouse but even before any restaurant took up shop, it was a bank. The high-ceiling 1924 building with gilt antique finishes showcased study black iron, gorgeous dark wood, skillful metalwork, and gold highlights. Though it maintained very much of its former look, there was a distinct design choice and strategy to give a contemporary look to the 1920s pub skeleton. A few "bank" traits were retained, some being apparent and others a little more hidden; right by our table underneath the countertop was a large bank safe, disguised by wood paneling just as if any other wall. Additionally, we learned from the Director of West Coast Operations, Ed Levy, that in a few months' time, there will be a speakeasy in the vault room beneath The Federal Bar which they have been working on since the room's discovery. With a marble lobby and large bank vault beneath them, the restaurant will start promoting the speakeasy environment below as well as opening reservations for private events.


As a gastropub, the food and drink must match up in quality. While this location does not have a full-time mixologist on hand such as the North Hollywood location does, it still retains the drink menu and attention to its alcoholic offerings. I am always on the lookout for specialty drinks and they had quite a few for the picking, all of which are a flat $10. That's an easy price to swallow for the types of drinks you're getting. My friend opted for beers that afternoon and selected from a menu of 20 craft brews on tap (save for one) and 25-30 bottled ones. Ranging from $4-15 per pour, it was not too shabby of a menu, especially if you consider that you could take $2 off during Happy Hour. Additionally, there are draught beer flight tasters of (4) 5 oz. glasses as well as beer floats. For wine drinkers, glasses run $7-12 and there are at least 25 choices ($3 for house wine during Happy Hour).

I tried out three of their specialty cocktails: The Bankers Cup Red (gin, Pernod pastis, lime, cucumber, simple syrup) - a refreshing drink that is just as easy in the throat as on the eyes with its soft pink; Ace of Spades (Avion Reposado, Briottet Creme de Mure, lime, agave syrup) - a tad tart with a smooth finish; and Flawless (Absolut pears, pages elderflower, lime, prosecco) - their most popular for an obvious reason as it was a fruity, bubbly delight. All specialty cocktails are $10.


The spotlight seems to be focused on the pass-around plates at The Federal Bar. Replete with tantalizing descriptions and a variety sure to please all, this pass-around plates section was very reasonably priced in the $7-12 range (soups for $5-9) considering the quality of ingredients included per dish. On top of that, their great Happy Hour from 3pm-6pm every day of the week shaves off $2 per pass-around plate. The treats from this side that I tasted were the Lamb Chops ($12 - pear mint chutney) - cooked to perfection, cut down to very convenient "lollipop" handles to get the most meat out, and well complemented by the fresh chutney; Kale & Brussel Sprout Dip ($9 - with grilled Ciabatta & pork belly chips) - a riff of the more familiar spinach and artichoke dip that gave the telltale brussel sprout taste while maintaining a change of pace by the inclusion of pork belly chips; Mac-N-Cheese ($10 - three cheeses, roasted poblano peppers with $1 bacon or $3 short rib additions) - a comfort food style dish that featured large pasta shells to assist in scooping up the sauce and occasional bursts of spicy vegetal flavor from the Poblanos; and Short Rib Poutine ($11 - house fries, cheese curds, shredded short rib, & Bleu cheese drizzle) - a tribute to the Canadian staple though the cheese curds quickly melted atop the melt-in-your-mouth short rib chunks.


Nearly everything had a comfort food feel to it but we did find a small break when exploring other sections of the menu such as the sides and salads. The sides run from $5-7, and if you are looking for artisan slates of cheese and/or meats, those go for 3 cheese for $11 or 5 cheese for $16 ($15 for meats). Our next round was of Smoked Trout ($10 - arugula pesto toast, pickled onion, hard-boiled egg) - beautifully presented in a jar and on a wooden board, this fishy trout had a distinct smokiness that carried over well with its complementary sides when stacked all on the arugula pesto toast; Bacon Brussel Sprouts ($7 - goat chese, balsamic) - blackened not from the oven but from the inclusion of balsamic vinegar while roasting, these babies were the perfect sides and palate cleanser; and Roasted Beet Salad ($10 - arugula, shaved fennel, orange, Feta, basil, spiced walnut, white balsamic) - very refreshing and with both yellow and red beats to give plenty of color and brightness in taste and sight.


Fit to burst, we were surprised that we hadn't even gotten to the entrees yet! During the lunch hour, they have a bigger focus of sandwich and burger entrees but do bring out some more dinner-oriented dishes when the time comes. Their flatbreads run from $10-12 here while dogs/burgers/sandwiches pass for $8-12. Again, everything is quite well-priced considering execution, ingredients, and quantity. The three we had were The Wrangler Burger ($11 - pulled pork, smoked Cheddar, crispy onion, grilled pineapple, pretzel bun) - a hefty burger cooked medium as asked and containing peel-away pulled pork that was remarkably juicy and well-seasoned; Federal Dog ($8 - beef dog, shallot onion rings, pickled jalapenos, mustard) - a signature item with a spicy kick and nice touch of shallot rings befitting of the size; and Fried Chicken ($16 - sage infused red velvet waffles w/spicy syrup) - available during dinner, this plate came out incredibly fragrant and creative with succulent pieces of chicken beneath its breading and sage-heavy waffles. I greatly appreciated learning that they make their own breads and buns in addition to the freshly made aforementioned waffles. Other dishes I have heard to be good include Fried Pork Belly Skewers, Fed Wings, and Vegan Weena.


When you have so many tasty savory plates, it's hard to remember that you still must save room for dessert. With a dessert menu of items running only $3-8, how does a person deny a bite? The two we had were the Sweet Bacon Cristo ($8 - chipotle peanut butter, chocolate, deep fried) and Elvis Pie ($8 - peanut butter and banana custard with brueleed bananas on top and chocolate & caramel). The Cristo is not for the faint of heart as its deep-fried exterior gives way to a very spicy and salty sweetness that you can only get to once you pass the dough; I personally could do without the candied bacon but others may enjoy this. The Elvis Pie was encouraged as a must-have by the staff, and it is easy to see why because of the trifecta combination of banana, peanut butter, and chocolate; I would recommend you taking a bite of this when you get the chance.


Everything about my experience at The Federal Bar in Long Beach was superb from our lovely waitress Ashley to the grandeur of the space to the talent and hard work of Chefs Anthony Overton and Victor Lopez. My thanks go out to everyone there including Ed Levy with whom we spoke for sharing their efforts. I am looking very forward to how the location pans out for them, the brunch menu, and potential future events at the soon-to-be-unveiled speakeasy. The kind of dedication and pride the chefs take in their creations is one that will help carry The Federal Bar forward (well, and their skills too!).

If you plan on making a visit, they are located at 102 Pine Avenue in downtown Long Beach with valet service nearby at 1st & Pine if you don't want to use the lot next to the restaurant. One way to help you out in scheduling that visit is through the giveaway below which The Federal Bar has so kindly allowed me to do. Enter through the widget to snag yourself a lunch for two people (approximate value is $40 and visit must be made by 12/15/13). It's easy and free. The giveaway lasts until 6/22/13 11:59pm PST. Good luck!

Photography by Minerva Thai.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This giveaway is U.S. only. A winner will be contacted within 48 hours of giveaway's end. If he/she does not respond within 48 hours from time of contact, another winner will be chosen. Thank you for entering!

Share:

19 comments

  1. The Wrangler! -Edison T.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Federal Hot Dog. - Taylor

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great addition to the Pine Street area!!! I now have a multitude of places to hang, including: Kings, Beachwood BBQ, Congregation, and Michaels....

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'd have to try the lamb chops. They look perfect~ by the way, you take beautiful pics :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They were so tasty and thank youuuu =]

      Delete
  5. Everything looks amazing but can't wait to try that kale and brussel sprout dip! Nice pics!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Michelle! Hope you get a chance to give that dip a try since it hits all the right spots ;]

      Delete
  6. The Kale and Brussel Sprouts looks interesting. I've only had drinks here, I would love to go and try some of the food listed here

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah! Just be careful how much you order because not everything keeps well =]

      Delete
  7. Elvis Pie, hands down. Hubby LOVES PB.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooo then he will love the Elvis Pie!

      Delete
  8. What an awesome-sounding place! Can't wait to go!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. just found out about this place and i LIVE in LB! can't wait to try their vegan options!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it always fun to find treasures in your own "backyard"? =]

      Delete
  10. no question, the smoked trout sounds amazing!!

    ReplyDelete