While walking down 4th Street on Retro Row, one might not expect much based on the exterior of Restauration. But walk through its doors into the outdoor patio, and the skepticism you may have felt earlier disappears. While the outside reminds me of the old, restored Volkswagen van with the same off-white color I passed across the street, the outdoor patio makes you feel like you’ve just arrived at your best friend’s backyard party. Restauration seemed to embody that van; old, rustic and reincarnated to leave people with lasting memories. The beauty of Restauration comes with its revamped wood, repurposed lighting and handmade benches propped up along walls that bear old blacksmith tools. The servers blend in amongst the crowd wearing shirts from SoCal breweries, Golden Road Brewing, to Firestone shirts, with arms painted in tattoos. Wooden planters filled with herbs and greens that are used for in-house dishes fence off the dog-friendly outdoor patio. Its food boasts local and responsible sources that are bountiful on the Southern and Central coasts of California.
If you want a place to spend your weekend with friends over a relaxed brunch with nothing but time on your hands, Restauration is the perfect place to be. The brunch runs until 3 p.m., leaving you with enough time to recover from last night’s shenanigans.
The sun-filled patio produces the scent of Rose Parks coffee, and harbors jugs full of bottomless mimosas to help you cope with your hangover. You hear birds faintly chirping in between chattering and Johnny Cash, as a butterfly floats pass you while you wait for your food, reminding you how lucky you are to live in California.
Brunch supplies innovative classics such as the Whitson, an omelet filled with braised beef short rib and cheese. It also includes and the California Po’ Bo, which I ordered out of curiosity. I heard the words fried oysters and avocado and knew it could be either really good or bad. Lucky for me, this creative concoction was a success. I know many who are will turn a head at the idea of oysters, but its flavors within this Po’ Boy were subtle, meshing well with the other ingredients between the ciabatta bread. You have the option of coleslaw or chips as your side, and of course I choose the chips, which were crisp, light, and made in-house.
Happy hour, which runs Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., let’s you engorge in a range of personal pizzas to a nice selection of California-brewed craft beer on tap for $4. A mouth full of El Segundo Brewing’s Two 5 Left Double IPA’s fresh, hoppy, fruity flavors paired the jalapenos and salty chorizo of the Spicy Pork pizza (a popular staple here) for just $8 is a steal for the broke college crowd.
The 4th Street Burger, voted best veggie burger in Long Beach by the Long Beach Post, lived up to its reputation with a different approach to your usual veggie burger. Restauration takes the Mediterranean influence of what is usually found in a pita – falafel, tomato, cucumber, pickled red onion, lettuce and tzatziki – and slaps it between two buns. The falafel, which in my experience has usually been on the drier side, was moist and full of more flavors than I’ve ever gotten in a Mediterranean restaurant.
You overhear the chattering of the conversations around -- ranging from backpacking to concluding the beer they’re drinking is a Belgian -- embodies exactly what you’d expect to hear in a restaurant in Long Beach. Restauration harbors the eclectic crowd that might seem like something out of an episode of “Portlandia.”
At brunch, succulents sat atop the table in an earthy vase, greeting a younger crowd full of ladies in their fancy sunglasses and men with their fashionable man buns while night seems to invite an older crowd into the mix.
Restauration, a combination of restaurant and restore, also coincidentally translates to “restoration” in French. It is fitting because not only has Restauration restored this old building, it has also restored what got lost in the food industry long ago – herbs picked from your backyard with foods that come and go with the season.