Ladies Who Wine :: The Social List

Ladies Who Wine :: The Social List

It’s been a while since we’ve had one of our Ladies Who Wine outings, so there was a big turnout for our visit to The Social List on Long Beach’s Retro Row, those attending ready to be social, and to make lists (of all the food and drink they planned to suck down).

The Social List easily gets your attention if you’re driving by. It begs you to stop in with its pale yellow façade, its bold lettering letting you know you’ve arrived; its patio seating and windowed doors summoning Long Beach inside while the aroma of their perky food, their hearty brews floats out onto 4th Street. Settled on a corner near the Arts Theater and The Center LB, The Social List holds its own with other culinary favorites in the area, like Lola’s and Number Nine.

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This outing’s beverage lesson, provided by Nora, educated the table on beers. Sour beers, which until last night I’d never heard of. They’re made tart from a careful balance of bacteria added during brewing, a risky trick though an oft-practice one in Belgium. The art of developing a pleasingly soured brew has spread to the US in recent years, Nora informing us that sour beers are what all the cool kids are drinking. We followed up our lesson with a practical application, ordering a couple bottles of Silly Sour to share. I adopted one of the bottles as my own once the table had a try at it, the taste reminding me of a cool summer shandy, though not as sweet.

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In addition to beers, we munched on small plates and a couple of entrees. I quite enjoyed my chicken apple cinnamon (!) sausage, a different choice than my usual type of go-to fare. I’d get it again, along with the patatas bravas and the butternut squash and onion jam toast.

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We had a special guest in the form of Kristina’s cousin from Paris, so in addition to sour beer, I got a quick schooling in European geography. And with French, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin, and Portuguese speakers around the table, I was able to practice many a foreign language – and to give my not so pleasant British accent another try. They say it tends to drift toward Jamaican. Despite my likely offense of certain groups, it was another fabulous time indeed with the Ladies, our lesson, and our love of food. The Social List is certainly a place we’ll have to check twice and then some.

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The Social List
2105 E. 4th Street on Long Beach’s Retro Row

Tasty Places :: Number Nine

Tasty Places :: Number Nine

My fro-worker Kristina sits just beyond my office door. If I need her attention, I can hypothetically toss a stress ball in her direction with a good chance of nailing her in the back of the head, even with my bad aim. Behavior like this is generally frowned upon, especially since I’m her boss.

This past Tuesday, I didn’t throw anything her way or yell out her name but instead loudly drummed my nails on my desk until she finally turned around (I can be annoying like that). I asked her if she’d even been to Number Nine on Fourth Street, as I’d unwittingly come across their website – their tagline: noodles + beer. She told me that yes, she’d been to Number Nine and added that she’d once offered me an invitation to join her there – didn’t I remember? – for bún, for phở, for bánh mì, to which I’d emphatically said no. But that was Diane of a year and a half ago. Ethnically unadventurous Diane. Bland-palated Diane. These days, I’m new and different. Okay, slightly so.

But Number Nine intrigued me. So the idea soon came for a visit the next day; a treat for those of us unfortunate enough to have to come in to work on Christmas Eve. We labeled it Lunchmas, seven of us taking the ride to Retro Row during our lunch hour – the first to arrive as we were anxious to get away from the office in an effort to speed the day along.

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The simple starkness of Number Nine hits you right away when you walk in. Clean and bright and quaint. I love spaces such as theirs, although I commented that it’s really suited for dainty folks. Looking at the benches, I couldn’t imagine bringing my six-six husband there, especially if we couldn’t get a seat along the boothed wall. My husband sitting in the little chairs would be a similar experience to him trying to get comfortable at back-to-school nights in my kids’ early elementary school days when he had to fold himself into the desk chairs meant for 7-year-olds.

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Didn’t matter for us. We’re a small bunch so we fit fine – disaster averted. And anyway, we were there to feast, though we couldn’t help but wonder how much better our meal would be if we joined it with a cold beer or glass of wine. Perhaps it was the anger talking, a few of us puffed up with envy at those who had the day off when some of us talked of just ordering a drink anyway – who would find out (I was warned not to take any pictures)? What was the big deal? It was lunch! But when our waitress came to take orders, the most salacious beverage ordered turned out to be the lemonade, noted as pleasingly sour by its taker.

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Water it was. We were big talkers. What we lacked in alcoholic beverages, however, we made up for in our dishes, with a full round of appetizers brought in. And I got two entrees just because I was feeling a tad crazed (I didn’t make it halfway through either one).

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My take home lesson here was that I need to open myself up to new dishes. This was my first bún endeavor – cold vermicelli rice noodles served with vegetables and a choice of protein (I did five spice chicken and crispy shrimp). As happy as I was for this discovery, I’m bummed that it took me so long to try it – their chicken was beautifully grilled, both sweet and succulent; the crispy shrimp delightful little nuggets that soaked up the juices, the sauces from the noodles; the noodles themselves firm and flavorful. And with bún, you get egg roll! – a crispy, finely fried delight – I might order a dozen or so of these on my next visit. And while the seats might be dainty, their portions were not. My leftover game was on point from this meal. I even held back while enjoying Christmas Eve dinner so that I could return to my remaining noodles in the fridge later in the night.

So who knows what new find I’ll fall in love with in 2015. I’ve yet to go for it fully with Korean or Indian or sushi spots. But I know there is surely another bowl or two or 12 of Number Nine’s bún in my future.

Number Nine
2118 E. 4th Street in Long Beach
(and one other location in Hermosa Beach)

Lunch Date :: Restauration

Lunch Date :: Restauration

You may recall that I have a work son. There’s also a work wife, a work daughter. A work sister. I claim a work baby daddy, but he hasn’t yet been told of his familial bond with the rest of us. He’s too normal, wouldn’t get our extreme connection and need to define ourselves beyond friends. As if working together eight hours each day isn’t enough, we find excuses to get together in the evenings and on the weekends. We do concerts in the park in the summers and exchange gifts for Christmas and go to karaoke. We really like each other. The work fam is surely the biggest perk at my job.

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For his first birthday (as my son), I thought it important to take William (that’s work son’s name) for a special meal. Brunch. And something local, because we love the LBC. And because there are so many new restaurants to try in our fair city these days. So I picked one of the recent arrivals to Long Beach’s Retro Row, a spot called Restauration, boasting a mix of quintessential SoCal fare and freshened up diner favorites. Work sis (William’s work auntie) joined the party, making it a Sunday afternoon trio.

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Since it was brunch and William was driving, I went for the bottomless mimosa. They don’t play around with this. Unlike most spots, where a waitress visits just every 25 minutes or so to pour you another slim glass of watery champagne juice, Restauration keeps you happy with pulpy fresh OJ suffused with plenty of bubbly, a thick carafe of the stuff left at the table. Surely worth the $15 I spent on it. I could definitely settle in at this place on a future visit, finding a corner to relax in on a weekend afternoon, getting my tipsy on over a book.

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And a good bite to eat along with it. I tasted many a phenomenal bite over our triple date (thank goodness for sharesies). While I didn’t try my son’s BLAT (braised pork belly, bacon, watercress, avocado, and tomato), I did steal several of his fries, each of which were fried, fluffy dreams. Work sister’s pizza, the Get Shorty, sounded wonderful with short rib, peaches, watercress, and blue cheese, but I barely had enough stomach space to finish my sweetly plated huevos rancheros, especially with the mimosa and all the fries I stole, and the bread and jam we ordered just for fun. All was tasty, playfully plated, and very fresh. I’m so happy Restauration has landed on 4th Street – a definite plus for our little city.

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The best discovery, however, was finding that my neighbor works there. I’ll be sure to hit him up the next time I see him outside watering his lawn about his choice for best dish at Restauration. And maybe he’ll be able to hook me up with my happy weekend corner with my book, a carafe of mimosa, my own fries, and more huevos rancheros; and possibly the French toast, as I always order the French toast at brunch (don’t know why I didn’t do so this time). Whether I get my corner time or not, Restauration is sure on my return list for more eating, more celebrating with friends. It’s another wonderful example of what makes Long Beach a fabulous place for me to live, work, and dine.

Restauration
2708 E. 4th Street in Long Beach