Last summer when the painters came to 2708 4th Street and coated the blue-and-gold trimmed building of The Patio Bistro a resounding white, Long Beach’s Bluff Heights neighborhood was set abuzz. The location had revolved another business in and out—just one more in a lineup of failed ventures. The locals’ curiosity grew and they wondered what would be next. Maybe another vintage boutique? Maybe a coffee shop? Surely not another restaurant! Restaurants are doomed at this location!
As the locals watched the strips of white paint splatter the walls and the bold black letters of the new-guy-in-town’s name stain the structure they didn’t realize their neighborhood lives were about to change… and most likely, for a good long time. Their weekend champagne brunches were going to get more delicious (fresh-squeezed orange juice anyone?), their burger criteria was going to supersize itself, and their “outside patio standards”—an absolute staple in LB living—were about to rise exponentially. As of July 17, 2014 the era of Restauration had officially arrived.
Restauration, a creative yet simple name derived from the words “restoration” and “restaurant” is just that. A creative and simple eatery boasting the American bistro classics we all love (pancakes, burgers, pizza)… just dressed up a bit with a contemporary flair. The food is made from scratch and the ingredients are purchased from local venders: Rose Park Roasters for coffee, Farmlot 59 and Buena Park Gardens for greens, Seal Beach’s Crema Café & Bakery for artesian breads, and the local farmers markets. “Sunday market at the Marina, Tuesday market at Bixby Park, Wednesday market at Marine Stadium… I’m at them all!” laughs Executive Chef and Long Beach local, Erick Simmons.
Educated at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, Simmons is a veteran in the restaurant business and boasts a resume that’s taken him all over the country. He abides by the rule that what grows together goes together, and his product line speaks for itself. The menu features over 20 dishes at a time and is reprinted once a week to update the seasonal changes to the selection.
After Simmons met fellow local couple Dana and Rob Robertson at a previous restaurant, the three decided to go into business together in their hometown. Simmons explains, “We built this restaurant with the intention of being a neighborhood spot. Somewhere people can go once, twice, three times a week. A place, that throughout various parts of the day offers a different experience, whether its happy hour, brunch on the weekends, or dinner on a Wednesday with a friend. We wanted to more or less take care of this neighborhood… take care of the business, and take care of our guests.”
A true “mom and pop” business, the owners show up every day and are very hands on. It’s not uncommon for Dana to greet you at the door and take you to your table, while Eric’s in the kitchen daily preparing your meals. All the while they’re making their rounds introducing themselves to their new neighbors.
When looking for the right space they sought many places. “We looked for potential. A patio, a beer and wine license, the number of seats, the neighborhood,” says Simmons. “We knew we wanted to be in a densely populated area of Long Beach that was coming up, and 4th street perfectly fits that. There are thousands of people who live on these surrounding streets, and they don’t want to move their car at 6pm at night to go eat. We know that. We saw what it could be.”
Formerly a breakfast place that shut down at 2pm, Simmons knew their predecessors were missing out on a lot of the action. “Why not sit outside till 8 at night? It’s California… it’s so nice outside!”
And Long Beach locals, never one to shy from a good open-air setup, are quickly picking up on this. The popular outside patio shaded with sail shades is the crème de la crème of the establishment. With its external pizza oven and flowerpots full of succulents and herbs (that they actually use on your food!), it’s like the backyard you’ve always dreamed of… but never quite had the space for. There’s even a side area you can park your bike at, which also serves as a personal entryway for your pup. Because yes, of course, your friendly neighborhood joint allows your furry friends.
It’s time to relax while you enjoy the vivid colors of a true California backyard, and while you order an equally bright and colorful dish like our “meal deconstructed”, the Seared Pacific Albacore.
A seasonal dish that tastes fresh out of the water and melts in your mouth, it’s a perfect dish for a sunny day outside. It pairs flawlessly with anything that’s crisp and clean that accentuates citrus, like the Vinho Verde that has hints of apple notes, or draft wise, the Allagash White Ale.
Simmons explains how it’s made: “The salad, the apples, pears, onions, pomegranates, and peppers are all tossed in a mixing bowl and seasoned with salt and pepper. They are dressed with champagne vinaigrette and positioned on a plate. The albacore is then seasoned with salt and pepper, seared rare, and sliced thin. It’s placed on top of the salad and garnished with vinegerette, chili oil, and lemon juice.”
And boy, is it a creation. The albacore is like velvet sliding over your tongue, contrasted by the sharp prickly sensation of pepper that hits your taste buds like nano-sized fireworks. It’s light and not overdone, and the vinaigrette is the perfect combination between sour and sweet.
Executive Chef Erick Simmons goal is to make the best food in Long Beach, and as that last firework pops in my mouth, I’m pretty sure he already has.
Native Knowledge: The Other Burger is the most popular item on the menu. It sells twice more than anything, which doubles the restaurants sales. The next best thing is the Brussels Sprouts. YUM!
Tip 1: They deliver! Or Maritime Bicycle Courier does. For just $5 the loveliest bike messenger will go pick up your food and deliver it to your home. Delivery. For $5. Get in my belly! Did I mention it’s only FIVE DOLLARS!? www.maritimecourier.com
Tip 2: Happy Hour is Monday thru Thursday from 3-6:30pm and features $4 craft drafts and an assortment of equally priced mini-bites. Brunch starts at 8am Saturday and Sunday and is home to the infamous $16 Bottomless Mimosa.
Photos by: Amanda Proudfit
*As seen on LocaleMagazine.com