Another venture into Long Beach, this time, lunch at Restauration. We arrive to a beautifully quaint place and I stop for a moment to admire it. It is utterly charming. I snap a few photos before the dining room fills up, but then realize it is the patio where everyone is sitting.
I’m not usually an al fresco diner, but on this occasion, I will deal with the sun edging its way through the clouds. It is too lovely a back patio to sit inside. A living wall with herbs and vegetables makes for beautiful decor. There is an imported oven as well, but the charm is in the little personal touches such as the bright red hued mirror on the left.
We start with some refreshing cocktails. Watermelon Sangria ($8) is perfect for the warm weather. There is a hint of sweetness from the watermelon, blueberry and strawberry purees, and peach moscato but chardonnay and soju balances. Strawberry Rose Wine Spritzer ($8) is a touch sweeter with strawberries, tarragon and peach moscato.
There are so many things which stand out and I am eager to try them all. We begin with Smoked Rainbow Trout ($12) a rillettes of sorts with a salad of greens from Farm Lot 59, a local Long Beach farm. There are snap peas, fennel, soft boiled eggs, pickled shallots and whole grain mustard. The grilled bread is by La Crema Cafe, an independently owned artisan bakery in Seal Beach.
Pork Belly Chilaquiles ($13) is indeed an indulgence. Tortilla chips are topped with black beans, salsa verde, radish, pickled shallots and crema. However,the piece de resistence is the pork belly. It is first braised, then finished on the flat top. Crispy on the outside, while unctuous on the inside. This is one to share — or not.
Sunrise On The 4th Pizza ($12) is a delight. It is a breakfast pizza with roasted fingerling potatoes discs, pico de gallo, bacon, onions, and creme fraiche. Break the runny egg in the center and slather over the pizza for a rich, creamy finish.
My favorite dish is Albacore Soba Salad ($13), a melange including soba noodles, orange, asparagus, radish, carrot, avocado, scallion, sprouts, crispy onion, all tossed in a soy vinaigrette. Perhaps it is my Asian palate, but this is one of those things which evokes feelings of nostalgia and comfort. Fresh, light, and simply satisfying in every way.
The only item I am just a tad disappointed with is Fried White Shrimp ($12). I want more flavor on the shrimp and batter, but they are bland. Squeeze the lime and a dip in the spicy aioli and they are a little better, but I envision mouth-popping flavors even without the accoutrements. Love the addition of chopped mint.
I will always order Onion Rings ($6) and these beer battered lovelies are perfection! They’re some of the best I’ve ever eaten. They are crunchy and the onions are soft enough so they break with each bite. Nothing worse than the entire onion pulling out of the crispy coating when eating. Really enjoyed the buttermilk dipping sauce infused with fresh dill.
Those with a sweet tooth will like Blackberry Pancakes ($8). I love the use of English muffins instead of the traditional, giving a wonderful texture which regular pancakes do not have. Mascarpone cheese lends richness, and the syrup is not cloyingly sweet. A handful of blackberries add freshness, but really, almost any fresh fruit in season will work just as perfectly on this.
Restauration is one of those eateries I wish exists in Irvine. We manage to chat with owner Dana, whose intoxicating energy is what makes the restaurant what it is. Her love, passion and commitment to using locally sourced products, and not adding to the carbon footprint is admirable. She is out on the floor mingling with her customers, and if you are interested, she is happy to share her story with you. This is an absolute gem!
2708 E 4th Street
Long Beach CA 90814