Summer-friendly cocktails are imbibed over friendly introductions and casual conversations when an iron triangle is rung, calling guests to sup. The bearded man behind the percussion and the Long Beach eatery’s monthly supper series is James Republic‘s executive chef, David MacLennan, a rising star in the farm-to-table movement.
The Dinner Bell Supper Series has been attracting not only locals, but has drawn Angelenos south for a three-course Sunday evening of family-style dining at a communal table in an indoor-outdoor dining room which showcases the seasons almost as well as the chef, who partners with the local farmers at the market. Most surprising perhaps is that this is happening at a Courtyard Marriot Hotel, a unique experience within the chain.
This city of nearly a half a million people on the county’s southern border is developing an appetite for great food. The downtown district, where you’ll find James Republic, is rapidly becoming a destination for adventurous diners throughout the region.
On the menu this August afternoon — the event starts at 4:30 p.m. — are dishes that would be familiar at any picnic except that MacLennan’s feature the nuanced flair that a culinary school education provides. His summer corn soup, he explains, simply required him to get out of the way and let his ingredients do the work, whereas a green bean casserole dish is highlighted by the combination of flavors that he unites.
The main course is pork ribs, which showcase a barbecue sauce that is as delicious on one’s fingers as it is on pig bones. Each dish is expertly paired, and this one is no different, accented by an earthy Pinot Noir. It being a warm summer day, however, it’s the Chardonnay that has stolen the show, according to an informal consensus.
The real issue, however, is what Chef MacLennan might put together next month to top this meal. James Republic is located at 500 E. First Street in Long Beach, California 90802.
Scott Bridges is an L.A.-based journalist who has worked as a police-beat reporter, a community newspaper editor, and a food and travel writer. He currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to The Huffington Post and Bizjournals.com, among other sites. He is a native Californian who lives on the Westside.