another beachwood review

August 4, 2011

Originally published in August’s issue of City Beat Long Beach

It’s not often that a restaurant opening in Long Beach garners national attention, but the new Beachwood BBQ and Brewing on the Promenade in Downtown did just that.

Because the brewery and restaurant’s sister location—Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach—has been continually rated one of the top 5 beer bars in the country since it opened in 2006, news of a much-larger, house-beer creating version of the 54-seat original sent the craft-beer world abuzz.

For his second location—which occupies a storefront on the bottom floor of The Lofts complex—head chef and lover-of-molecular-gastronomy Gabe Gordon kept the same Southern-style cuisine that made “Beachwood 1” a foodie favorite, but added an onsite brewery with 80 barrels of fermentation space.

To sweeten the deal, he brought award-winning Southern California homebrewer Julian Shrago on as a co-owner and together they are running Beachwood Brewing—the first brewery in Long Beach in more than a decade.

With eight stellar year-round brews and 24 rotating guest beers (usually hard-to-find craft beers from around the world), Beachwood BBQ and Brewing could get by on its alcohol offerings alone. But here, the food is just as impressive and lunch is a hearty meal of Southern favorites with a SoCal twist.

For starters, try Gordon’s Wild Mushroom Stew. In this appetizer, a heaping side of the restaurant’s famous Maytag blue cheese grits (made by melting the stinky cheese into buttery grits) is covered by a sauté of dried-porcini and button mushrooms and topped off with a handful of deep fried arugula. The grits mingle perfectly with the gravy-like sauté, but it’s the rice-noodle consistency of the deep fried greens that secures this dish’s spot as a vegetarian indulgence.

Beachwood’s greens and things are imaginative and well-executed, but like any good BBQ restaurant, its meat selection is its main draw. The menu is full of pork, beef and chicken classics (brisket and ribs), cold-smoked fish (salmon and tuna) and unique seasonal game (alligator and venison). And all the meat sits on a dry rub for a minimum of 2 days before spending anywhere from 2-14 hours in the smoker.

This love pays off in dishes like the baby back ribs, the wild game meat pie and the smoked ham, all of which come out well-seasoned and perfectly tender. For lunch, try the pulled pork sandwich—made North Carolina-style with vinegar coleslaw on a white pretzel bun—or the Buffalo Sloppy Joes topped with deep-fried sage and pickled onions. And feel free to dress up any dish with one of the four homemade sauces—sweet, spicy, mustard and vinegar—that sit in a bin on the end of each table.

Regardless of what you order, though, their vast beer selection is sure to contain something complementary. The guest list is constantly rotating (when one keg blows, it is replaced with an entirely different one), so it’s hard to recommend something that is consistently on tap. Beachwood Brewing’s house beers, however, are more reliably available. Try the easy-to-drink Reckless Session Ale, the roast-y Kilgore Stout or, if you want a beer that bites, the Melrose I.P.A.

Beachwood’s reputation may have been born at their Seal Beach location, but with an extra smoker and a state-of-the-art brewery, Gordon and his crew have brought their unique combination of beer and BBQ to Downtown Long Beach.

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