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Park Pantry, Long Beach

Will Owen | | Jul 1, 2008 03:44 PM

Posted something about this a few years ago. After maybe a three-year hiatus, I had some shooting to do in the area, and - waddaya know! - wound up not far from Bixby Park right around noon. Now, this is another one of those Local Favorites, actually pretty much a neighborhood hangout, with tables full of people who don't care about the lack of parking because they walked over anyway. I'm pretty sure I was the only person in there from Pasadena...

I got a nice tall glass of iced tea with a big sprig of mint in it almost before I'd finished asking, and waited barely ten minutes for my fish & chips after I'd finished agonizing over all the attractive choices. Got coleslaw as my side dish, and asked for no ketchup or vinegar, but a double dose of tartar sauce, please, and that's how it came. Wish I'd brought my camera in with me, since the slaw was practically glistening with the morning dew (and NOT swamped in gooey dressing, halleluja!), the fries were a pale gold and delicately crisp, and the two pieces of halibut reclined on a big leaf of lettuce, each one surmounted by a deep-brown onion ring large enough to wear as a wrist bangle. Very pretty sight indeed. The fries and the rings were about as good as those things get, the rings especially, as the crunchy and delicious breading clung to the sweet, tender onion better than any I'd ever had before. Though I know some would like the fries darker, these were just about perfect in my opinion. The cabbage in the coleslaw was amazingly fresh, as though it had been sliced to order - perhaps it was - and the very light application of a very rich dressing was a revelation, especially to a man who thought he had coleslaw all figured out. Utterly delicious. As for the fish, well, heck. Nobody's perfect. As the smarty-pants reviewer once said, it had been cooked to perfection, and beyond... It wasn't tragically overcooked, and the flavor was good, but it did kinda need the tartar sauce for some extra moisture.

The tab for this, with tax, was a bit over $13 before tip, not cheap but not bad. Most of the sandwiches and plates run in the $7-$12 range, pretty typical for a place this well-settled and comfortable. Ain't nothin' hip about it, but it's clean and very friendly, with a clientele as mixed as the neighborhood, which is to say Very. And if you listen really hard you can just hear some classical music playing 'way off in the background. My kind of joint - wish it were closer!

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