Restauration in Long Beach Pulls in Farm Fresh Flavors
If you're on the hunt for somewhere to eat in Long Beach that focuses on sourcing their ingredients from as local, sustainable, and organic farms as possible, you might want to stop into Restauration. At first glance, it looks like someone's humble abode had been outfitted with tables and chairs for entertaining guests. The name itself is a combination of the words "restoration" and "restaurant" and we could see that the layout had hints of both concepts. Helmed by Chef Phil Pretty, the restaurant focuses on a menu that highlights seasonality and "from scratch" as possible. We were invited to give them a look-see as they geared up for Dine LBC running April 23-May 1.
We arrived toward the end of brunch service which looked to be quite the attractive mealtime for many on a Sunday. The tables were still quite full even at 3pm as groups finished up their meals. Those waiting for seats in the backyard patio were contently busying themselves at the bar which sat right at the entrance of the restaurant. Once you make your way to the back, a modestly-sized vertical herb garden takes an entire side of the area while the rest of the perimeter is lined with pillows and padded benches. To start off the experience right, we went for their Seasonal Sangria ($9) options of both kinds - red and white. The red that day was a blackberry ginger peach mixture that drank smoothly and well; the white was a strawberry lemonade that had a bit of tartness to it.
The appetizer section of the menu contained just about any type of flavor profile that a group of people would like from the indulgent and savory Pork Belly + Mole ($14 - pumpkin seed mole, blue cheese, grilled apples, almond, arugula, and balsamic) to the bright and sweet Heirloom Beets + Grains ($12 - fromage blanc, peaches, chioggia + red beets, farro, watercress, and pomegranate seed vinaigrette). As we've been focusing more on lightening our plates when we eat, we opted for the vegetable-forward dishes to start including their Wood-Grilled Spanish Octopus ($13 - warm marble potato, celery heart, toasted almonds, frisee, and Caesar dressing) and Squash + Blossoms ($12 - squash blossoms, house ricotta, lemon aioli, shaved squash salad, pumpkin seeds, and herb vinaigrette).
The beets were certainly at their flavorful peak with plenty of natural sweetness; it made for a good pairing with the fromage blanc though a tad heavy on the vinaigrette in areas. The Caesar dressing for the octopus felt the same way in regards to volume but the flavors did play well together with the sliced pieces of smoky octopus and slightly roasted potatoes. We enjoyed the crunch of almonds here and the celery bits. As for the squash blossoms plate, the shaved squash salad was a good contrast in terms of lightness to the crunchy, fried shells of the stuffed squash blossoms. The batter wasn't oily however, and it played well with the lemon aioli on the plate.
There was an entire section of the menu dedicated to pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches (the sandwiches come with a choice of garlic fries, salad, coleslaw or Parmesan churros on the side) alongside the larger plated entrees. We tried out their Norma Pizza ($14 - house-smoked burrata, ricotta, grilled eggplant, basil, tomato sauce, chili oil and flakes) and 4th Street Burger ($13 - falafel patty, tomato, cucumber, pickled red onion, lettuce, tzatziki, and harissa ketchup) which both had decent inclusions of vegetables in their makeup. The pizza relied heavily on the smokiness of the melted burrata though I wasn't sure if using burrata over another cheese was the best choice; the natural creaminess of the cheese was lost in the melting process. For the burger, we immediately realized that it was too big to bite and the patty too crumbly to hold itself together. It was creative to see tzatziki used in a mayo-like consistency for the sake of a burger spread though, and the inclusion of harissa ketchup with our garlic fries was thoughtful though subtle.
Our next two plates were more aligned with our recent eating habits - the Grilled Wild Tuna ($16 - red quinoa, avocado, satsuma, cucumber, farm radish, cilantro, and tiger milk) and Farmlot 59 Salad ($13 - smoked cashew, candied kumquat, grapes, fennel, watermelon radish, Humboldt fog, and green goddess honey sherry vinaigrette) whose proceeds are donated to Farmlot 59. The neon pink presentation of the tuna made it a striking dish along with the wide slices of deliciously fresh tuna. The description hadn't mentioned that the fish was coated with a spicy seasoning around its sides but we quickly found that out once our lips started burning. The fish itself was good but all of the other ingredients didn't pair up as well as we had hoped. As for the salad, it certainly made use of as many fresh vegetables as possible as well as fruits. I liked seeing the watermelon radish incorporated. If you felt that the light dressing that was sparingly tossed on top wasn't enough, there was some more vinaigrette spread thickly at the bottom of the plate.
We managed to still get some dessert into us by the end of all of the dishes though. I chose the simple Yogurt Panna Cotta ($9 - honey, ice cream, blood orange, and seed granola) while Duc opted for their newest dessert addition - Semifreddo ($9 - peanut butter semifreddo, caramel, candied peanuts, chocolate macaron, and buttermilk whip). The panna cotta was pleasantly tart in the same manner as yogurt but still quite enjoyable because of the bounty of blood orange zest and syrup on top. The seed granola that came alongside it tasted great as well, featuring many different seeds held together firmly. The semifreddo could be described easily as a deconstructed Snickers bar because it held just about all of the elements of one from the creamy sweet peanut butter to the caramel to the candied peanuts. We enjoyed that one but together; it might be too much sweetness for one person.
If you want to give Restauration a try soon, visit them during Dine LBC which runs April 23 - May 1. The restaurant will be featuring a $30 per person dinner which includes some of the aforementioned dishes above but also some features we hadn't seen that visit - Banana Bread Pudding ($9 - cast iron baked brioche + banana, Nutella drizzle, and butterscotch ice cream), Carrot Cake ($9 - carrot cake, cinnamon cream cheese ice cream, candied carrots + hazelnuts, and housemade vanilla ice cream), Herbed Ricotta & Potato Gnocchi ($16 - fried egg, artichoke + Parmesan puree, foraged mushrooms, and choke chips), and All Natural Roasted Chicken ($22 - all natural Mary's chicken, farro, parsnips, dates, grilled lettuce, pumpkin puree, and chicken jus). They are located at 2708 E 4th Street, Long Beach, CA 90814 and their Dine LBC menu is available here.
Photography by Duc Duong. More photos available on Facebook here.