At Last Cafe in Long Beach
I've been to this place twice, and am happy to report that finally there's a top-notch American place to eat in Long Beach.
First trip, about a month ago, I had 1/2 brick chicken with mashed potatoes and vegetables. The skin of the chicken was golden and crispy, and the meat was tender and quite tasty. The potatoes are pretty rich. I think they're generous with the cream there, but, hey, I wasn't complaining! The veggies were a pretty standard mix of carrots, broccoli, zucchini, green beans, etc., and were cooked perfectly tender-crisp, with a light amount of butter. My spouse had the flatiron steak, which was very flavorful, again with the potatoes and vegetables. They have a soup du jour, which, that day, was butternut squash. It was delicious, with bacon and creme fraiche making it a bit more decadent than I like, but she loved it. The bill for all this? Low $30's. Incredible.
Second trip, Tuesday of this week, she had the French Pot Roast, substituting potatoes for the fettucine it came with. Better than the flatiron, IMHO, but when it comes to beef, I love a good braise. She also had the soup, which, this time was a creamy tomato. I liked this one better than the butternut on the first trip. I had the special, which was Mahi Mahi with a ginger lime cream sauce. It came with potatoes and veggies. In retrospect, I think subbing pasta for the potatoes may have been the way to go, but it was still delicious. For dessert, we had their homemade lemon cheesecake. It was creamy, with a wonderful graham cracker crust. It was (refreshingly) served unadorned, with just a strawberry on the side. The bill? This time, high $30's with the addition of a dessert.
They've been in business since the summer, and appear to be doing fairly well. They don't yet have a liquor license, and charge no corkage. In conversation, they said they might charge nominal corkage, - $5 or so, when they start serving wine.
It's like we went to different restaurants--I found it awful, both the perspectives of service and food quality...
t Last Cafe was a cramped and bustling joint that seated about 26 people inside and out. It had two servers, neither of whom had any business being as bad as they were in the middle of this, the Great Recession.
We discovered that the service was the namesake of the restaurant:
* At last someone has wiped the syrup and grease off of my table.
* At last someone has found me some clean silverware.
* At last someone has provided me with the napkins that I asked for three times.
* At last someone has delivered the mustard that I asked for twice
* At last someone has someone has brought the check to the table.
* At last someone has brought the lemon slice that I requested four times....wait....no, that never showed up...sigh.
OK, you probably got it--the service was abysmal.
The Burger Breakdown...
* The Beef: 80/20, well-aged, finely ground Chuck. It was probably more like 75/25, because it was ridiculously oily. It was like eating a puck of bland, bacon drippings on a bun--utterly miserable.
* The Seasoning: There was a hint of salt on the exterior, but there was not a trace of seasoning inside the THICK, 1/2 pound patty.
* The Sear: They gave it a hell of a try, but the grind was so fine that the juices of the burger leaked copiously as the patty cooked, so the sear was made rubbery and bland by the boiling liquid in the pan.
* The Preparation: The thick patty was loosely packed and pan seared to a perfect Med Rare. The thickness of the patty and the fine grind is where this went wrong. The exterior of the patty was flavorful, and the fat rendered out so that it was palatable--at least the outer 1/8 inch of the burger. The interior was more or less a fine grained, oil slicked beach and completely inedible. It was like BP had their way with my food.
* The Bun: WEAKLY toasted, standard hamburger bun, which was cool and clammy on the inside. GROSS. This cooled the cheese and was just downright nasty on the tongue--pasty and cool. It appeared that they had stored the buns in the refrigerator--a weak move.
* The Cheese: 50 cents extra for a slice of American Cheese--weak. It was already a $13 burger. They managed to melt the cheese, but the cold bun cooled it off and that was that.
Not a single one of us was able to finish these awful, grease sponges. Naturally, the servers failed to note it as a bad sign that we were leaving half of the food on our plates and that we turned down the offer of carryout boxes. Why the eff would I want to carry this home--I didn't have the correct permits to turn my car into a tallow tanker.
The At Last Cafe cheeseburger would be great for anyone on a diet. You would spend your food budget on this burger and then throw it away--presto...no calories ingested.
Burger Review : I would not eat this again on a dare.
Humbly submitted by The BurgerBusters at www.theburgerreview.com
I tried the meatloaf, prolly back a year and a half ago or more and it was pretty good, the prices almost too cheap, and it was real good though heavy. i was full to capacity for the remainder of the day, even though i took at least a half-hr to more walk around the neighborhood.
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