Holly and I were in Long Beach and as usual, the issue of where to eat came up. Holly suggested At Last Cafe and I was thrilled at the thought. I’ve never been before and was really looking forward to it.
The restaurant sits on the corner of Orange Avenue and East Broadway and while parking can be a problem, we were lucky enough to get a spot rather quickly. There were several people waiting for a table so we put our name down on the list and I immediately whipped out my camera to get a few shots of the exterior.
It wasn’t long before we were seated — about 15 minutes — and I took an immediately liking to the quaint interior. Holly tells me they’ve expanded, now occupying two dining “rooms” instead of the one — the one we were seated in.
I’d already scanned the menu while waiting and had quite a few items in my head we could go with. However, the Brick Chicken was a definite. I think we both agreed on that one.
We decided to start with Thai Beef Salad which completely surprised me because it was a very good rendition of the traditional yum neur, but slightly toned down and given a slightly westernized makeover.
Instead of lettuce, salad greens are used. In Thai cuisine, marinated flank steak is traditionally used, but here, a real cut of steak is grilled with a touch of salt and pepper. The salad is tossed with a dressing reminiscent of its Asian cousin but is less pungent and less tart. The steak could’ve been seasoned a little more with salt, but the dressing did the trick in flavoring the slightly bland meat.
Regardless, we both enjoyed it and found it a very palate whetting start to our meal.
Our entrees soon arrive and the first was Pot Roast, two chunks of beef braised in a rich and hearty gravy-like sauce. I really liked the taste of this dish although the meat itself was not as tender as it could have been.
A little more time in the oven would’ve done it better justice. Still, a wholesome and respectable dish not often done well even though it is very simple and nostalgic.
The highly anticipated dish of Brick Chicken did not disappoint. The half chicken, butterflied and cooked with a brick on top to give it the flattened look, is outstanding.
The chicken was moist and succulent while the au jus enhanced without being overpowering. I would definitely order this again!
Service was good even though they were swamped with customers, still waiting outside even though it was well moving into the 2pm mark.
This is comfort food and it is done with a modern touch. All the familiarity of the things you grew up with, your mom grew up with, is here under one roof, but taken up a notch and given a contemporary twist.
I can understand why people wait in line for this. I would too — hell, I just did! And I’ll do it again!
At Last Cafe
204 Orange Ave
Long Beach, CA 90802