While the Long Beach dining scene has expanded dramatically over the last couple of years, it still has one achilles heel: special occasion restaurants. Aside from Michael's on Naples, most options are fancy steakhouses along Shoreline Village or crowded seafood chains near the Marina where high schoolers go before prom.
Heritage, a tasting menu spot serving California cuisine inside an old converted Craftsman house on East 7th, is changing that. The restaurant shares the same building and chef as Heritage Sandwich Shop, one of our favorite lunch options in Long Beach where you can stroll up for smoked salmon toast or a pork belly sandwich on crunchy house-baked bread. At dinnertime, however, the menu shifts toward fine dining: a $70, four-course prix-fixe menu that changes with the seasons and highlights local farms.
One element which sets Heritage apart is that it feels like dining in someone’s home because, well, you kind of are. Easygoing service and a liberal BYOB policy (corkage is $20 per bottle) further add to that mood. The space is split between two spacious dining rooms with wooden furniture and pathos plants hanging from the ceiling. There is always a fresh bouquet on the breakfast bar overlooking the open kitchen and the staff tends to move at a leisurely pace. It’s the sort of place you won’t mind hanging out well after your meal is over.
Though the space feels comfortable, none of that casualness is reflected in the food: Dishes at Heritage look more glamorous than a Fergie music video. A plate of evenly charred octopus cooked over wood fire comes topped with edible flowers, while a creamy pavlova oozes elderflower syrup as if it’s been plated to imitate a runny egg.
There are usually about 15 minutes between courses, which gives you time to pour a bottle of wine and catch up with the people at your table. You might even wind up hearing a few good horror stories from a retired talent agent sitting next to you. Come with at least one friend who has mastered the art of long conversations. Even if it’s a little pricier than neighborhood staples like The Attic or Ellie’s, Heritage manages to feel like a value for the money. It’s also proof that a tasting menu doesn’t need stuffy service or a too-serious atmosphere to feel special. Go here when you’re looking to celebrate with thoughtful food, but you still want that warm, laid-back atmosphere Eastside Long Beach does well.
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Even your favorite barista who hosts a podcast about the “evolution of coffee culture” couldn’t create a cappuccino like this. This velvety mushroom purée delivers a rich woodsy flavor that lingers after each sip. It’s a slightly unusual (don't cappuccinos usually arrive after the meal?) but comforting way to start dinner.
This dish has serious depth, in flavor and texture. Tender octopus chunks with lightly charred edges are topped with crispy chorizo, stewed pinto beans, and a spoonful of creme fraiche. And while the chorizo and octopus bring a pleasant crunch, the pinto beans and creme fraiche combine to create a creamy sauce.
7-day Aged Duck
Thinly-sliced duck breast with a side of lentils and celery root puree—pretty straightforward and entirely delightful. The tender, medium-rare meat tastes like it’s been roasting in its own flavor-packed fat for several days.
Crispy and chewy on the outside, yet soft and creamy inside, this fruit-topped pavlova is a rollercoaster of textures. A scoop of vanilla parsnip pastry cream adds richness to the puffy meringue, complimented by a tangy sweetness from the berries in elderflower syrup.