Thursday, November 11, 2010
At Last Cafe has been on my list for a while and I finally had the chance to come try them out. After a grueling trip to Vegas and directly into Long Beach for a few days, I was looking for a way to catch my breath. Of course that never happened as I just continued to use this rare chance to explore as much of Long Beach as I could. I am still on my whirlwind travels without a breather. Thank goodness I had my GPS to guide me around because I could have sworn that somewhere along the line I was in Compton, but then again I didn't know where I was heading. At first I was aiming to have lunch in Compton but Ms. Lin convinced me not to because she would like to see me return in one piece. Can't blame a girl for trying to be adventurous.
After a few blocks the neighborhood was a little out there but eventually I found At Last Cafe. There was plenty of parking on the street in the afternoon. Its quite a cozy and quaint place tucked away at the corner. The staff there was super friendly. Everything about the place screams out comfort food home-cooking. It's a perfect neighborhood restaurant where you can just waltz in and grab a nice lunch. I'm sure after one visit they will remember you and greet you with a smile the next time they see you.
What really lured me here was the promise of delicious Three Cheese Mac-N-Cheese with Bacon topped with Toasted, Buttered, & Seasoned Breadcrumbs ($8.25 + $3.50). One thing I really love is Cheese and to add Bacon to that??? Say what? I am so down for it. My only qualm is that I wished this dish had a stronger cheese flavor that emanated through. The Mac-N-Cheese itself was nice and creamy but fell a little short in flavor. I thought this dish was nicely cooked but I was looking for a salt & pepper shaker the whole time. The saving grace was the huge bits of bacon! OMG! Each delightful crunch just shot the dish up into the nines! They do give a generous amount of bacon to enjoy the dish. **note: I only got the 1/2 order**
I was a little greedy that afternoon and wanted to try it all! After all, who knows when I will make another trip back up to Long Beach, got to take the chance to make the most of this visit. Upon the server's recommendation I decided to try the Beef Flat Iron Steak ($12.50). The steak is served with Sauteéd Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, Smashed Potatoes, and Fresh Vegetables. They use real potatoes and hand mash them. I really liked the sweet caramelization of the onions. The components were all good on their own but I am not sure it came together harmoniously for me. It was a solid dish but just not for me. I think it might have been the pre-cut steak that came with the dish. The steak just didn't pop for me, but I think the flavors were good here.
My favorite thing of the day here was the Brick Chicken ($9.50). This was fabulous! It's half a Chicken that's flattened and grilled under a Brick served with Smashed Potatoes and Fresh Vegetables. Whatever brick they were using, don't stop! The seasonings used on the chicken really popped and was absorbed. At first I was not a believer of cooking chicken in this manner but all the wonderful flavors really get caught up the chicken. Not only was the skin crisp and flavorful, I couldn't stop eating this dish. Maybe this is what deterred me from the previous dish. Once I had a bite of the chicken, I was expecting the other dish as great as this one. Normally I am not a huge fan of chicken but the smokey flavor just lingered in my mouth. **drool drool** The sauce for the chicken and beef seemed to be the same but the preparation seemed to make a huge difference. I'd definitely come back for this dish. Yum!
All in all I had a nice afternoon lunch. Everyone there was really nice and inviting. It's simple good home-cooking at a great price. I like that I can enjoy many items on the menu without breaking the bank. The portions were generous and filling. I was a little too greedy because I had to package most of it home, but I was happy to do so. Mmmm I want some more of that Brick Chicken!
At Last Cafe
204 Orange Ave
Long Beach, CA 90802