We are always looking for decent places to eat in Long Beach as we subscribe to Long Beach Opera. Time and time again we end up at King's Fish House on Pine, which is fine but boring by now.
So I was pleased to read in the L.A. Times about Biggs, a new small-plates joint on Second St. in Belmont Shore.
We were attending LBO's Ring Cycle on Saturday and Sunday (1/14-1/15), which gave us a 2 hour break, door to door, from 4 to 6 PM each day for a meal between operas. I made a 4:30 PM reservation for our party of 5 at Biggs on Saturday afternoon with the very accommodating "Bernard."
We peeled out of Das Rheingold at about 4:10 and headed off to Biggs. It's an appealing space, modern and airy, with a glass case of antipasti by the door to whet your appetite. We didn't look at a wine list as we had brought our own ($10 corkage) but they also offer an unlabeled house red or white for $15 a bottle. The white was crisp and tasty.
We started ordering at 4:30 and apprised our waitperson of our time limit, that we had to head back in an hour. Within minutes our first dishes arrived and were we happy campers. As each new thing arrived, we'd pass it around, taste it and say, Omigod.
Note that with several dishes the waitress advised a double order for our party of 5, which was a good call in all cases.
Peeled wild shrimp with dipping sauce: huge, excellent quality, very fresh shrimp, marinated and grilled.
Cheese platter: three or four cheeses, all in very good condition and nicely ripe, with dates and dried figs.
Salumi platter: two kinds, with a little baby arugula salad, caper berries and red pepper slices. Salumi sliced so you could read a newspaper through it. Excellent flavor.
Clams with chorizo: Nice bowl of cherrystone clams with tomatoey broth and spicy chorizo. Great for sopping up with bread (furnished on request)
Jidori chicken breast with lemon caper sauce: tender breaded chicken breast, sliced and drizzled with sauce with a deep fried tempura-style lemon slice on it. We loved the lemon slices and this was a great combo.
Grilled broccolini with lemon. Bright green broccolini flecked with herbs and glistening with olive oil, lightly grilled to crisp-tender. We picked this up with our hands and ate it with gusto. So simple and so tasty.
Scallops with fingerling potatoes: Three oversized, impeccably fresh sea scallops seared and served in a tiny cast-iron pan with sliced fingerlings. Another home run.
I think I'm forgetting something but you get the idea. This is a really fun place to eat, where you can bring your own wine and nibble on a range of tasty items. Prices range from about $8 to $18 for each small plate and there was quite a vast selection. Costs can mount up. Our bill for five with one bottle of house wine ($15), two corkage fees ($20 total)and five espressos was $245 before tip--one hour of intensive eating and drinking! (In our defense we brought most of one bottle home undrunk ...) But the service was terrific; they got our food out in great time and we were strolling back into the Center Theater with five minutes to spare before the 6 PM curtain, full and happy. And slightly redolent of ripe cheese.
I would KILL to have a place like this in my neighborhood (Hollywood Hills). Go! They take reservations for groups but not sure what the policy is generally.
P.S. Not food, but the Ring Cycle was great. It runs again this weekend. www.longbeachopera.org
4722 E. 2nd St.
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