Long Beach, the final frontier? That might just be the case, given how resistant my food-loving friends have been when faced with the prospect of driving down the 405 or 710 freeways to grab a meal. Yes, Long Beach has a thriving Cambodian community that produces some unique specialties, and Tracht’s delivers comfort food classics, but it wasn’t until recently that Long Beach cultivated destination dining. Michael Dene opened his eponymous Italian restaurant Michael’s on Naples on Naples Island to end 2007, and once he hired 25-year-old wunderkind Matthew Poley last May, the restaurant became worth the drive.
Poley is a chef who should be well on his way to becoming a household name in L.A. County. The Detroit native attended Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale and drove to Los Angeles on weekends to work for Gino Angelini at Angelini Osteria. He started washing dishes, but quickly ascended to sous chef at Angelini’s other restaurant – La Terza. In his spare time, Poley runs Heirloom LA catering with Tara Maxey, a talented pastry chef and his girlfriend.
We all submitted completely to Poley and his kitchen staff, who delivered a memorable tasting menu. Based on three prior experiences with Poley at Silverlake Wine, we expected to eat incredibly well. We did, and most of the dishes are on the regular menu, so you can easily recreate the experience.
We didn’t have dessert, but we shared a bottle of Saarloos & Sons Ring Effie Unk. It’s a Santa Ynez Valley wine that includes 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Throughout the meal, the wine developed more spice, but was never overpowering. I’ll leave the analysis to Matthew Kaner, our table’s wine expert, who eloquently described the wine this week. Kaner brought the bottle from Silverlake Wine, the only shop that carries Ring Effie Unk in Los Angeles.
After our meal, we got another bottle of wine and walked upstairs to sit around the fire-side lounge. It’s an elaborate rooftop patio with a retractable roof, view of the starts and lit palm trees. With wine glasses in hand, it was a classic Southern California moment that served as the perfect cap to a terrific meal.
Note: Matthew Poley and Matthew Kaner are close friends. As a result, at the end of the meal, I expected the check to arrive and it never did.