Four hardcore eaters (including me) converged on the outdoor patio at the Long Beach Renaissance Hotel, next to the fire pit and close enough to the Pacific to catch an ocean breeze. Chef-owner Suzanne Tracht and Chef de Cuisine Randy Montoya are generously offering a three-course, $30 tasting menu in honor of the “modern chophouse’s” first-year anniversary. It turned out to be well worth the drive from L.A. proper, even though Jar (Tracht’s other restaurant) offers many of the same dishes and a much shorter drive.
Loaves of warm, crusty bread appeared with a dish of soft whipped butter.
Crab Deviled Eggs seem to be appearing on more and more menus. A recent version featured Dungeness crab folded with the egg. This version was more successful, spice-soaked crab meat topping the blended egg, with chopped chives.
Red Belgian Endive Caesar Salad was a new take on a classic salad, with garlic croutons and thin-shaved cheese.
Twin slabs of Braised Pork Belly were meaty and luxurious, served in a ginger broth with ong choy, seaweed and julienned carrots. The broth added flavor, but also limited the crispness that’s necessary in bacon.
Three out of for of us selected Tracht’s Signature Pot Roast with carrots and caramelized onions. This pot roast alone normally costs $22, but Tracht’s didn’t scale back the portion size, which added to the unreal meal deal. The meat was ultra tender, nice and browned on the outside. It came with a ramekin of creamy horseradish sauce that was perfect for dipping fries.
Char Sui Pork Chop had a nice char and was juicy from top to bottom. It was served with a roasted onion topped with crushed nuts.
Brussels sprouts were rich and tender, flavored with caramelized onions and a bacon slab, then topped with crushed hazelnuts for added texture.
French fries were some of the best ever, crispy outside, tender inside, and showered with garlic and parsley.
Creamy mashed potatoes were dusted with chives.
Textbook Creamed Spinach was not too watery or heavy.
Pecan Pie came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The slice wasn’t too sweet or syrupy, which are two potential pitfalls when making pecan pie.
Chocolate Pudding was ultra-creamy, topped with dollop of cream and dusted with cocoa powder, kind of like tiramisu.
Tracht’s decision to offer such high-quality food for such reasonable prices is a public service. Every starter, side, entrée and dessert was good to great. Sunday to Wednesday night through Labor Day, you have the same dining opportunity. Do your stomach a favor and take it.