It’s been quite some time since I last visit The Federal Bar in Long Beach. I always forget how in awe I am of its architecture, and all the intricacies of old bank which use to stand here pops into view wherever you look.
Take for instance the bar, which use to be the bank tellers sit. Look in another direction and you can see where the vault might have been. I love how the restaurant has pretty much incorporated as much of the building’s originality as possible (photo does not do it justice).
On this day during lunch, there are quite a few tables already taken. We choose a table by the bar and start with Fed Wings ($10/single) with an option of buffalo or Bourbon BBQ. We choose the former. I detect flavors reminiscent of five spice powder on the wings under the sauce.
Baked Pretzels ($10) are possibly one of the most delicious versions of pretzels I’ve eaten. Its buttery, salty flavors is only second to the hot, chewy texture of a straight-from-the-oven offering that you can’t put down. The beer cheese sauce possesses a good consistency – not liquidy and not too goopy. This is a must-order.
Short Rib Poutine ($15) arrives piping hot in a casserole dish. The house fries are generously topped with braised short rib and melted mozzarella. I would have liked more gravy, in fact, a lot more gravy to balance the abundant met on the dish. Flavor-wise it is good, but authentic poutine it is not.
I’m not a big salad person, so the fact that I can’t stop eating the Feta Chicken Salad ($15) is rather telling. Romaine lettuce is tossed with chickpeas, dried cranberries, olives, Roma tomato, cucumber, red onion, and feta cheese in a perfect amount of oregano lemon vinaigrette. A perfectly dressed salad if you ask me. To top it off, the tastiest butter brushed grilled naan accompanies.
The OMH 2.0 (oh my habanero) Burger ($15) is a medium rare grilled Angus patty with melted ghost pepper cheese, roasted pickled habanero, avocado, tomato jam, jalapeno aioli, all sandwiched between a milk bun. The amount of accoutrements on the burger makes it not only decadent, but also, extremely messy! This is a 10 napkin burger if you ask me!
I’m always on the lookout for a good Fish & Chips ($16) and the beer batter haddock suffices. The fish is moist, but the batter is a tad thick. However, it does stay crispy even after 10 minutes. The house fries remind me a little of N Out fries in texture, but so much better. It is what I want In N Out fries to taste like! The roasted habanero aioli packs a punch, but I would also have liked tartare sauce and/or malted vinegar as other options.
The Federal Bar is worth visiting even if you’re not looking for a full meal. Sit at the bar, order a cocktail and a couple of bites. The space is super unique (although Long Beach is known for out-of-the-box locales) and something different from the usual Orange County eateries you’ll encounter. There is a small public parking lot next to the restaurant, and in the evenings there is valet available. There is no excuse not to visit.
I have a $50 gift certificate for one reader to WIN. Please let a comment and tell me why you’d like to visit The Federal Bar. Entries close on Sunday, August 28th, 2016.
The Federal Bar
102 Pine Ave
Long Beach, 90802