Restaurant Spotlight: The Attic
By DOMINIQUE DUPREE
It is hard to believe that this local, neighborhood restaurant has only been around for five years. The Attic has seamlessly blended into Belmont Heights and is fast becoming a local favorite to grab a bite, a cocktail or two, brunch after a fun Saturday night or enjoy a leisurely lunch with friends.
What cinches the deal is that this restaurant is located in a renovated, craftsman style house that reflects the history of the area like many of the historical homes in Long Beach, with the exception of the outdoor bar.
The Attic, located at 3441 E. Broadway Ave., is also a local patron of the arts, evidenced by the creative paintings on the walls and the tables in the outdoor dining area. Each table is designed by a different, local artist, some of whom Steve Massis, the owner of the Attic personally knows and every six weeks or so he holds an art exhibition at his restaurant featuring new, local art.
At The Attic, art, music, history and flavorful Cajun-Creole food meld into a delicious gumbo explosion. Speaking of which, you must try the chicken and okra gumbo – oh, the andouille sausage, bell peppers, onions, celery and spices slowly cooked with a brown butter roux, served over white rice and topped with scallions, it is enough to make you feel like you are on Bourbon Street listening to jazz while eating your gumbo.
Executive Chef Frankie Mirada was kind enough to offer a brief insider’s view on everything “Attic.” The Attic was originally a bungalow built in 1918 and has mainly been a historical, commercial building with a brief stint as a house for a conductor of the Pacific Electric Railway and his family in 1929.
Steve Massis’ idea for the Attic is that everyone is welcome and to perpetuate that homey feeling, the cutlery and dinnerware, are all different as if they were brought down from the attic, giving this restaurant a very eclectic and casual feel. There is nothing casual about the food, which is locally sourced and complexly flavored. The drink and entree menus change often which gives you an opportunity to return and try something new.
When you enter The Attic, you walk up the stairs on beautiful restored wooden floors, into a light, airy open concept “living room,” and if you are lucky, you may be seated in the Blue Room which used to be the master bedroom. Chef Mirada’s kitchen, used to be a second bedroom. In the Blue Room you’ll find the proudly-framed photographs, newspaper clippings of downtown Long Beach and even a picture of the house before it became a commercial business.
The Attic is known for its Bloody Mary’s and Mac n’ Cheetos which is deliciously creamy macaroni and cheese topped with crumbled Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and green onions. But if you would like to take a culinary journey, you have to try the FGT caprese stack – fried green tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil, dusted with black pepper and drizzled with balsamic – The Attic’s take on the South meets Italy. For the entree, order the shrimp and grits, classic Southern comfort food with an Attic “twist” – grilled garlic and herb-crusted shrimp served over tasso grits, drizzled with honey and topped with rosemary and herbs. Wash it down with freshly-made strawberry lemonade. And for dessert, the bananas foster bread pudding is perfect to sweeten your palate – bananas flambeéd with cinnamon sugar and topped with chantilly cream.
The camaraderie among everyone working at The Attic, from hostess to manager who made my refreshing strawberry lemonade on the spot, is reflected in the laughter, the sound of forks and knives on plates and the smiles of everyone which can clearly be seen by anyone on Broadway. Looking on, which is easy due to the al fresco dining, makes one feel a part of a good time that is easily accessible by all; simply by crossing Broadway or stopping on a whim and finding that elusive parking spot to join in on the fun. Chef Mirada considers New Orleans-style cuisine to be an American cuisine on its own since its influences hail from Africa, the native Americans and France – a true melting pot – and so under his watchful eye, the good times continue to roll for The Attic.