For us Long Beach citizens who mourn the closing of Shenandoah Café, it's easy to forget that Shenandoah still happily chugs on in its Los Alamitos location. The homey shabbiness of the old Belmont Shore digs has been replaced by a more cheerful shabby-chic dining room-- high ceiling, hard-wood floors, tastefully-distressed furniture. And a small parking lot behind the restaurant was a major plus compared to the old place.
I dined there last night in a small group of five: me, my SigO, the in-laws and a family friend. At 5:30, the dining room had a few other parties; there were people out on the patio (propane heaters kept them toasty). The place filled up quickly after 6.
They still only have a beer and wine license, but the short wine list still has some sturdy choices. We ordered a bottle of 2002 Château Souverain Cabernet (a safe choice in my book-- consistent, drinkable and at $42 a relative bargain) and found out from the friendly, attentive server Kelly that their Smoked Prime Rib was available (16-ounce cut)-- usually it's a weekend treat. They were offering fresh salmon, but she admitted that their halibut offering would have to have been frozen since it's out of season; that kind of honesty is refreshing in a server. The warm apple fritters came around and were gratefully inhaled, and the evening was starting off very well.
Appetizers: Two plates of crabcakes, one plate of fried green tomatoes. Both were served with a tomato coulis and lime wedges. Both items were, as usual for Shenandoah, delicious. The tomatoes used to come with lump crabmeat and a spicy rémoulade; although they weren't even on the menu as a separate appetizer, they prepared them for us. I would have liked slightly thicker slices of tomato-- a minor quibble as they were perfectly flavorful. The crabcakes were incredibly good.
One diner ordered the usual Shenandoah salad-- where they come by with the fixings and you choose what goes on the fresh greens. The result was, as usual, great. The rest of us went with soups: black bean (smoky, piquant, superb) or Mexican corn (sweet with perfect shots of cumin and chipotle). Yeast rolls (wonderful, a bit deformed-- sometimes baking doesn't yield the pretty results, but it still tastes good) and another bottle of Château Souverain.
Main course: Three Smoked Prime Ribs, one Rattlesnake Filet (don't worry-- it was a 6-ounce Filet Mignon, not snake; but rattler is pretty tasty, so I wouldn't have minded) and one Duck Breast with Raspberry Chipotle sauce. One Prime Rib came out medium-rare, which was what the diner had ordered-- but she really wanted it medium (sometimes her brain thinks one thing and her mouth says another-- OK, it happens all the time), and after requesting a bit more cooking time, Kelly whisked it back to the kitchen and had it back within two minutes, perfectly medium. Everything was great. I got a taste of the duck and can report it's a brilliant dish; I'm not sure if it's on the regular menu, but it should be. I don't know how I finished that 16-ounce prime rib, but I did. I had to. It was that sublime. The Rattlesnake Filet was devoured by my usually-finicky father-in-law with great pleasure and not a hint of an offer to share-- and that always means he's loving it.
Dessert: Well, our family friend asked for, and got, a fresh basket of apple fritters for her dessert. Half were scarfed down immediately, half went into a doggie bag. My SigO and I had the chocolate cherry bread pudding. Now, I love me some bread pudding. I love me some chocolate. Combine semi-sweet chocolate, bread pudding, bing cherries, ice cream and whipped cream, and I'm over the moon. And by this point, full to the top.
A wonderful dinner. Total damage, minus tip: $288 for five. We left $360, given the spectacular service. I'm so glad we haven't lost this little gem of Southern-inspired cuisine.
Shenandoah at the Arbor
10631 Los Alamitos Blvd. (at Sausalito)
Los Alamitos, CA 90720