At Last Café is truly one of busiest little restaurants that I have ever been to. Originally they only had a single wide space in the little retail building on the south side of Orange and Broadway, but two years ago, they took over the adjoining space on the corner of 2nd. With every inch being used, I count plus or minus twenty tables total, and they are always full, while the café pumps out some of the best grub in the city. If you are set on dining on a particular night, I suggest that you make reservations, but if you are like me and go on food adventures, then just chance it.
I decided to give it a try last Monday night, and lucky for me, they had some room, so Dianne and I settled into a table. While they always hand you a menu, I always go straight to the chalk board on the wall that gives the specials for the night. I was having a hard time deciding between the Ox Tail, Veal Chop, and Pork Belly, but when faced with the decision, I went with the pig. Dianne ordered the Cajon Chicken Caesar salad, and I snuck in one of their amazing Polenta and Mushroom Gravy appetizers. The polenta is fantastic! Made with course ground cornmeal and then formed into patties and pan fried, it’s a lot like fried grits, but then the magic happens. Poured all over the plate is this rich, salty, dark brown gravy with big pieces of portabella mushroom. I loved it the first, second, and now third time that I have ordered it. Do yourself the favor and try it out.
Just as I was starting to wish we had more of the polenta, dinner arrived. The pork belly, which is a boneless cut of meat with high fat content, smelled amazing. Hog fat makes everything better. Do I need to say anything more? Well, I am going to anyway. The fatty side was scored and seared, and the meat just fell off the bottom. With every bite, I got a little of that wonderful fat which made it almost like a big cut of bacon. It was served with smashed potatoes and veggies. Not something that I could eat all the time, but as a treat, it was truly that. As for Dianne’s salad, there is not much I can say after talking about pork belly and taters, but it was good. The chicken was tasty, and the Cesar dressing tangy and delicious—not to mention that the portion was meal worthy.
As you can tell, I enjoyed my visit. So if you have never been, you need to go, and if you have been, make another visit. They also specialize in catering, so check them out for your next party to really treat your guests to an excellent meal.
Until Next Time, Keep Eating Long Beach,
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