Long Beach is apparently on its way to being a foodie haven… if you believe the interwebs and all the press. I don’t doubt it; there have been a number of celebrity chef events in the area (one of which a friend attended).
However, because of all this hype, many restaurants have picked up on the buzz and promote themselves as a fantastic, foodie, culturally sensitive… insert buzzword here.
Our goal was to see if any of the places we found on Yelp lived up to the hype.
The Breakfast Bar
“Welcoming breakfast & lunch restaurant offering creative dishes & outdoor patio seating.”
Long Beach is a brunch town; many of the restaurants listed below are breakfast joints. The Breakfast Bar was one of the few that didn’t overhype themselves. The web story is interesting: a couple who create food from recipes that come from our family traditions and family cookbooks. As a glutino you won’t be able to try their signature dish, the Uncle Marcee’s Omelet Casserole because it contains bread crumbs and is made the night before. But, all breakfast sandwiches are gluten safe and served on a gf bun.
I rather liked it. The restaurant was very old school diner and had a family vibe that we didn’t experience elsewhere else.
Potholder Cafe Too
“The Potholder Cafe is the undisputed “King” of Long Beach when it comes to breakfast, which we proudly serve all day.”
Another breakfast place… an original Long Beach brunch chain. They serve the quintessential huge American breakfast: big egg and avocado filled omelettes, lots of bacon, bottomless drinks, big waffles, fat toast, lots of cheap syrup and ketchup.
They’ve also picked up on the buzz word trend and mark their menu appropriately: gluten-free, sustainable, vegan, healthy, drought-friendly… one Yelp reader writes: kudos to the server for dumping extra water into the plants and saving water during the drought. We sat next to those plants. They were withered from overwatering and covered in bits of food and wet napkins.
This place is meh. It’s certainly not a “king,” unique, or special in any way. The food is big. The service is bad and the staff seemed to not care. But, it won’t make a glutino sick.
Pier 76 Fish Grill
Pier 76 is buzz word central. Gluten-free, sustainable fishing, industrial-chic, thoughtful culinary, healthy cuisine, an American institution.
From their own website: Our menu is about inspiration, interpretation and evolution. We prepare food using simple ingredients coupled with refined, yet unpretentious technique, while applying the right amount of passion to yield healthy and delicious cuisine.
They have a fantastic copywriter… I will give them that. But, the food is completely terrible. Completely. My salad came drenched in cheap dressing. There was an inch or two of said cheap dressing at the bottom of the bowl. I barely ate any of it because it was more like a soup than a salad. The french fries were doughy and cold… La Niña (a.k.a. the french fry monster) had a couple of bites and wouldn’t eat the rest. These are gross, she said. The condiments and drinks are over-processed and filled with high-fructose corn syrup. When I asked for simple vinegar and an orange juice, they had neither. What sort of fish/chip shop doesn’t have vinegar?
Prognosis: the restaurant talks the talk… but completely falls off the pier when it came to the food. We came to the restaurant hungry and left the restaurant hungry.
Creme de la Crepe
French. This restaurant was very very French in manner, style, food, and service. We got the quintessential snotty French waiter who improved only after we spoke to him en Français. Our food took a really long time come out and my egg/bacon crepe had only a light dusting of egg (I literally could only see the colour of the yolk lightly dusted on the inside of the crepe) and a piece of bacon. All crepes are gluten-free and served with a salad.
The waffles, however, were fantastic (according to La Niña). They were perfectly light, not too sweet, and came with a side of real eggs and whip cream. The coffee was also fantastic. This was La Niña’s favourite breakfast spot.
“James Republic combines modern sensibilities with old-world principles to afford a genuine gathering place for the neighbourhood and distinctive dining destination in the heart of Long Beach.”
This is likely the best restaurant in Long Beach. It is most certainly the best one we encountered. Not only do they talk the talk… but they far exceeded our expectations right down to the pretty little wildflowers on the tables and the herbal teas that they make in house.
This is a farm to table restaurant; and, the owner is constantly obsessing over ways to make it better. We saw him moving between people, gathering feedback and ideas. The menu changes every day based on local availability and the whimsy of the chef. A lot of the menu items come in a jar (with a long spoon for eating) unless it needs to go on a plate (like the steak pictured above). Everything is gluten-free or can be made gluten-free because they have complete control over the ingredients.
Honestly, this restaurant is the best in Long Beach.