The Bungalow has been an iconic hang out spot in Santa Monica since its opening in 2012. Serving up fascinating cocktails and delicious bites, the bar/restaurant has made a clear name for quality and ambience. Their first Long Beach venture, while taking it in a slightly new direction, is no different. The Bungalow Kitchen is the newest addition to the ever-growing list of restaurants at 2nd and PCH, the new outdoor experience straddling the Long Beach/Seal Beach border. Inside The Bungalow Kitchen is striking, with several indoor seating areas designed to feel like you’re walking through a trendy friend’s living space. Brent Bolthouse, who has opened a string of popular bars including the Bungalow in Santa Monica, wanted this location to have a more laid-back feel. He hit the nail on the head with the dim lighting and soft seating everywhere you turn. This paired with the menu designed by well-known Los Angeles Chef Michael Mina is a winning combination.
I had the pleasure of attending one of their soft opening nights and trying a few dishes. We started out with cocktails, of course. The drink menu is unique, but also familiar. You’ll see twists on classics, like their locally named “Bixby Mule” which with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, elderflower, strawberry lime, and house spicy ginger beer is a delicious take on a classic mule (and of course it’s served in a copper mug). If you enjoy a nice glass of wine over a cocktail, you won’t be disappointed. The Bungalow Kitchen’s wine list covers a range of price points and styles sure to leave any coinsurer pleased. One of my favorite sips of the evening was the Lou Dog; a charming twist on an Aperol spritz with Ketel One Grapefruit & Rose, grapefruit Aperol, Prosecco, and soda. The drink had a bitter bite that was evened out by the effervescent of the Prosecco and soda water. It is the type of drink you can imagine sipping on a beach during a well-earned vacation.
At the Bungalow Kitchen, the focus is more on the food than ever before. Chef Michael Mina has created a unique menu that flows seamlessly through different fares, remaining cohesive and of course tasty. We started with the Sweet Potato Pancakes. These crispy, masterfully balanced bites are served topped with smoked King Salmon and tangy crème fraîche, with the option to add a scoop of Tsar Nicoulai Osetra Caviar, which we did and if you can swing it, highly recommended. To no surprise of mine the Tuna and Tomato Poke was an instant hit, dressed in umami shoyu and finished with scallions and black sesame. The Bungalow Kitchen’s use of seafood is masterful and just makes sense with the restaurants unbeatable view of the harbor. Some of the dishes are more unique, like the Short Rib ‘Pop-Tart’ which is a savory twist on a childhood classic. Fluffy puff pastry stuff full of tender short rib and topped with a horseradish cream that has just the right amount of bite.
The main courses also weave through fresh takes on old classics. Fresh Artisanal Rigatoni with kale pesto, sweet Italian sausage, and pecorino cheese is a treat and probably my new favorite way to eat kale. Chewy rigatoni makes the perfect companion to the bitter and sweet combination of kale and sausage. Make sure to ask if the chef is making his special pizza, if there’s a man you can trust with a special it is Chef Michael Mina. One of my favorite bites of the night was the perfectly cooked Crispy Char-Grilled Chicken which boasts a well-seasoned exterior and decadently juicy interior. While the most dazzling dish of the night was easily the Lobster Pot Pie, a favorite of the chef himself. This is served table side in a copper pot and plated in front of you. Inside you’ll find a generous serving of lobster alongside root vegetables all stewed in a glorious truffle-lobster bisque. If this is a dish you want to try, make sure you let your server know early on, they do often sell out even on weeknights! If you manage to save room for dessert, don’t miss the Bungalow Meyer Lemon Crêpe Cake. Ten layers of delicate crêpe with a fluffy crème fraîche cream and an addicting tarte lemon curd.
The views and the ambience of The Bungalow Kitchen at 2nd and PCH are likely to be a big draw as the restaurant opens up for indoor and outdoor dining. This is the type of place you’d treat yourself to a sunset cocktail after a long day, but the dinner menu is nothing to be overlooked. This may be the most food forward Bungalow yet, but they knocked it out of the park with the diversity of flavor and sheer quality of the dishes. I cannot wait to return to The Bungalow Kitchen and experience the comfort of their indoor dining, there does not appear to be a bad seat in the house.