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06 February, 2008
DineLA: Tracht'sLong Beach isn't exactly haute cuisine town. And considering it's at the very edge of L.A. County staring the Big Orange in the face, the city might as well be on the other side of the continent as far as many Angelenos are concerned.
There is one jewel of a restaurant around here though, even by S. Irene Virbila's standards: the unassuming Tracht's at the Renaissance Hotel. My brother and I decided to try its $22 lunch offering yesterday as our first foray into DineLA Restaurant Week.
Suzanne Tracht's (she of Jar fame) latest baby sits a little beyond the lobby to the right, with a sign and setting so lowkey that people not familiar with her could easily mistake it for just another run of the mill hotel bistro. The interior is as stark and simple as her signature dishes, with three large lighting fixtures swathed in pleated orange drapery the only indulgence.
The host seated us right away even though we were fifteen minutes late. Not long after, our server approached with the regular menu and the DineLA special menu without being prompted, and asked for our drink orders. As soon as he left, a busboy brought a small chopping board with warm crispy sourdough bread and soft, room temperature butter as opposed to my pet peeve: hard pats of cold butter that are a pain to spread. Not long after he left, our server was back with our tropical iced tea, complete with a small carafe of syrup as a sweetener option which was a nice touch.
For the first course, I chose the fried oysters with celery root remoulade and cocktail sauce. The oyster "nuggets" were piled high on a bed of crispy shredded potatotes. They were warm, crunchy and well seasoned on the outside, with firm yet tender oyster meat on the inside.
My brother ordered the crab deviled eggs which were tasty but surprisingly mild, even though the yolk mixed with mayonnaise was supposedly spiked with hot sauce and the crab flavored with paprika. It was also quite filling; he thought at first that 3 egg halves were a bit on the stingy side but changed his mind after finishing the dish.
I flirted with the idea of splitting one course and brownbagging the other to make room for dessert, but changed my mind when I tasted my second course, the open faced pot roast on rye with caramelized onions and horseradish creme fraiche. One bite and I understood why this dish is so popular: the roast was fork tender and the sauce intense, so intense in fact that it would've been overwhelming if not for the welcome counterpoint of tangy horseradish and sweet caramelized onions.
My brother's burger was also very good, a perfect medium rare sitting on a toasted brioche bun with slightly bitter watercress, balsamic onions and creamy aioli for contrast. I kept stealing his incredibly good garlic fries, which were generously sprinkled with garlic, parsley and coarse salt.
For the final course, I opted for the pecan pie with vanilla ice cream and sweet brown butter sauce spiked with bourbon. Though very good, it pales in comparison to the dessert my brother chose, Tracht's outstanding signature chocolate pudding. It was probably the best chocolate pudding I've ever had: slightly sweet, slightly bitter and so deeply rich and chocolaty it curled my toes. If you need a reason to drive to Long Beach and try Tracht's, that pudding alone is it.
I'm glad we tried Tracht's. The atmosphere was unpretentious, the service prompt and the food outstanding. That we paid only $44 for a meal that would ordinarily cost $58 (not including drinks, tax and tip) only made it sweeter.
Renaissance Hotel Long Beach
111 E. Ocean Blvd.,
Long Beach, Ca 90802
Label(s): Food, Metro
Technorati Tags: food, dinner restaurant dineLA los angeles
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