Located directly across from La Opera, on the famed Pine Avenue and east of Ocean Boulevard, this restaurant is about to make history once again. Built in classic turn-of-the-century stone architecture, the entry is marked with imposing columns. Opened in 1924, this building has lived many different lives over its past ninety-plus year history—from banks to restaurants and everything in-between.
This new restaurant and bar is billed as a Gastropub of sorts. It opened just weeks ago, yet it seems to be running efficiently. The staff is friendly, attentive and well trained. The food is delicious with an expansive menu. Signature cocktails are inventive and flavorful. And the ambience is a pleasant surprise, with character and charm at every turn. In other words, I feel at home here.
In two words, this is “Comfort Food”. I appreciate a menu that has “something for everyone” and this one accomplishes just that. This is a perfect spot for those wanting to pop into a bar and enjoy beverages and fine fare for a small group. Or the space is equally flexible for more serious dining from an array of choices. The “sharing” appetizers are delicious and given their size—-offer a great value.
From Lamb Chops, to Grilled Artichoke, Mac-N-Cheese with Bacon or Short Rib add-on’s, Fish & Chips, Kale & Brussel Sprout Dip, Crispy Chicken Sliders on a Brioche bun… are you getting hungry yet? There are Soups and Salads, Flat Breads (from Margherita to Buffalo Chicken with Blue Cheese– or my favorite the Roasted Pear with creamy Boursin Cheese Fennel, Arugula, Balsamic and Spiced Walnuts), to Dogs, Burgers, Sandwiches, Wrap-Arounds, and of course Sides and Desserts. (The only deviation on the Dinner menu is two-fold: under the main courses, offering two Seafood entrees, Fried or Roasted Chicken, Braised Short Ribs or Grilled Sirloin served with Baked Gratin; and The Artisan Slates of Cured Meats, Sausages and aged Cheeses.)
Come along with me on this journey of Federal Bar’s most popular dishes…
Our tasting adventure began with the Lamb Chops. The three chops were served with a pear mint chutney & chimichurri. These were cooked to perfection with the chutney a perfect pairing.
The Kale and Brussel Sprout Dip is just perfect for sharing and arrives in a “just out of the oven” bowl—keeping it hot for at least fifteen minutes. This was rich and creamy and was served with grilled ciabatta bread and pork belly chips.
This one should be against the law. Short Rib Poutine was a surprise in a bowl. Poutine is a French-Canadian staple, and this rendition is made with house fries, cheese curds, shredded short ribs & blue cheese drizzle. The combination of flavors is perfectly matched with one of their Craft Beers. My selection was the Bruery Mischief. I just love the name, but indeed it was a Belgian Strong Pale.
I will admit it, this was the one dish of the day that I actually held out my hand to signal that our waitress please not take this one away. This was my favorite of the day. This Mac-N-Cheese is made with three cheese and roasted poblano peppers. For a smitten, you can add bacon or a shredded short rib. We enjoyed this without the pork or beef, and with the golden brown broiler finish, this was done to perfection. Can I get this to go I wondered?
Next on the list was the Bacon Brussel Sprouts with goat cheese. The Chef confirmed that the balsamic vinegar is what caramelized the Brussel sprouts. (They cut them in half, which I prefer, to assure they are cooked thoroughly.) They were done to perfection!
This next dish won the “plating award” of the day. The Smoked Trout was featured inside a mason jar, with sliced hard boiled eggs, pickled onions, and arugula pesto toasts. This was all displayed on a wooden board.
Among the burgers it was impossible to even choose, so luckily they selected the most popular one for us to try. The Wrangler Burger was the next on deck. This was topped with pulled pork, smoked cheddar, a crispy onion and grilled pineapple on a pretzel bun. They had me at crispy onion hands down. This was served with home fries and lightly sprinkles with parsley and parma cheese.
The Federal Dog is such a throw-back—-the checkered wrapping and basket took me back to fond memories of state fair food finds. This beef dog was served with shallot onion rings atop, pickled jalapenos and mustard.
Chicken & Waffles create the most incredible scent as the maple syrup melds with the protein and the starches. It was one of those dishes best eaten, and then reading the elements of what is on the plate. It was delicious and a total surprise in the mouth—and inspiring for those who have “tried everything”.
The Yellow and Red Beet Salad was so fresh, colorful and most importantly, flavorful. The arugula danced on the plate along with the shaved fennel, orange sections, feta cheese, basil, spiced walnuts and white balsamic vinegar. This was simply refreshing, and something I shall replicate at home.
Did someone say DESSERTS?
Similar to the Chicken and Waffles, this combination of flavors is best experienced before evaluating the dish. It was very creative. The Sweet Bacon Cristo. Similar to a Monte Cristo, this is made with thick bread, chipotle peanut butter, chocolate, deep fried, and drizzled with icing goodness.
The Elvis Pie is the number one seller at Federal Bar. This was similar to a creamy milkshake chilled in a rich graham cracker crust, topped with chocolate, macadamia nuts and fresh whipped cream.
Federal Bar features 20 beers on tap—19 Craft Beer, and 1 All-American Pabst Blue Ribbon. An additional 30 beers are available by the bottle.
The “cocktail” program at Federal Bar has a list of drinks one actually wants to try! Each one is more inventive then the last. They also have Beer Floats, which I have noted to try on my next visit! Two of our favorite cocktails included: 1) The Fiddler (Jameson Irish Whisky, Frangelico, Fever Tree Ginger Beer and a lemon garnish), and 2) The Bankers Cup Red is another favorite (Gin, Pernod Pastis, Lime Cucumber and Simple Syrup, with a lime garnish).
Meet the Chefs!
Anthony Overton is the Executive Chef. He hails from Maryland and has been on the West Coast for a number of years. Victor Lopez is the Sous Chef and they seem to work brilliantly together. They are looking forward to imprinting their mark on a new summer menu— once everyone settles in.
The Dining Room Is Drop Dead Gorgeous!
The décor clearly pays homage to the “art deco” style and it is refreshing to see this level of commitment to the old bones of this building. Management takes this seriously—-caring for the wooden walls, ironwork with back-lit drama, special light fixtures, murals on the walls and intricate painting of the ceilings and beams.
Three Surprises You Will Not Find Elsewhere!
Be Safe- Hidden behind a wooden side cabinet is an old safe. It is empty. Darn.
Second Evening Bar and Lounge- Toward the back of the restaurant is a beautiful wooden archway. Stepping inside is another large room with a second bar, elegant balcony and seating for evening entertainment. The ironwork and murals are very dramatic.
A Secret Space To Be Revealed Soon- The third surprise is opening to the public this fall. Below the main floor are two large rooms and the bank vault! This will become a Speak Easy. What fun and we can hardly wait to see what they do with this concept. It will also be a wonderful space for private parties and social events. I will be asking for the secret password to gain access! More to follow as the details are revealed. Stay tuned….
102 Pine Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802