Photography Provided By: AVABLUE / Ryan Forbes
Photography Provided By: AVABLUE / Ryan Forbes

Is the New Bungalow Kitchen in Belmont Shore a Beautiful Disaster?

Brent Bolthouse and Michael Mina Team Up to Give Long Beach the Culinary Destination It Didn’t Know It Needed

We all experience taste through many different senses. We use our palate and olfactory sense to recognize the taste of a woodfire pizza or a glass of pinot noir. I would argue our eyes play a near equal role in determining taste—not just of what we consume for physical nourishment but also the tasteful items we appreciate that nourish our souls. The combination of senses, sharing the experiences equally, is where taste produces euphoria. The Bungalow Long Beach

The newly opened and reimagined The Bungalow Kitchen by Michael Mina and Brent Bolthouse marries all elements of taste into a symphony that is simply joyful to behold.

Many of us were forced to reimagine both ourselves and our companies during the pandemic. Bolthouse, faced with opening the latest iteration of his Bungalow operation (which already includes locations in Santa Monica, Huntington Beach and Tiburon, which is opening later this year) during a pandemic and the daily regulation changes affecting restaurants, decided to reimagine his concept. Gone was the idea of a free-wheeling bar based on his past templates and was swiftly replaced by an approachable fine-dining concept that combines his love of design with the dining expertise of the Michael Mina juggernaut. The result of this combination is an explosion of taste for all the senses.

“Make your interactions with people transformational, not just transactional.”—Patti Smith The Bungalow Long Beach

“It was a beautiful disaster,” Bolthouse proudly beams as he tours us through his newest location. “We had already purchased all of the furniture [for the original concept],” Brent explains as we walk the art-lined walls and rooms. “This is a photo of Patti Smith, our muse,” he proclaims, pointing at a black-framed photo on the wall of the ‘70s musician lit dimly by a wall sconce. “We wanted this place to feel like where Patti would have lived if she had an apartment on the West Coast.” He said that this location (actually Long Beach but named after a suburb called Belmont Shore) had a “little edge,” and he wanted that to be the design thought for the restaurant.

Many of the art pieces are from his personal collection: a large, single black-brush stroke painting by his father, a series of original 35mm photos of rock band Joy Division, original pieces by filmmaker and street pop artist Mr. Brainwash and a piece from the collection of musician Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols that reads, “Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols.” It’s eclectic art in the best sense of the word and somehow never competes with the modern furniture, Portuguese tile, curved arches or river rock fireplaces for your attention. I could spend an entire article commenting on the ambiance and design—even the small touches like a bathroom sign labeled  “Everyone,” but we feel that art is best enjoyed as a visual experience. I mean, how would you like to hear someone describe Renoit to you? Not very much, I bet.

Great restaurants excel at three things—appearance, experience and food. We have covered the appearance in great depth, so now it’s time for the service and food.

We were fortunate enough to be offered a generous amount of their menu and were guided towards their favorites by a friendly, knowledgeable and capable waiter along with a sommelier, who is someone you see less and less at restaurants in general and rarely at a place this approachable.

In short summation, we ordered (devoured) the tomato tuna poke, which was fresh and vibrant, the endive crab salad (didn’t leave a leaf), the shrimp toast (a revelation of how tender a shrimp could be), a pizza with perfectly crisp edges and for the finale, a gorgeous lobster pot pie presented tableside, which was splurge-worthy and decadent. 

Mina operates over 40 restaurants across the country with his namesake Michael Mina in San Francisco earning two Michelin stars. It is difficult in the current market to make one restaurant successful––and expanding to your second can bankrupt the first. When we asked the on-site representative for Michael Mina, Lino Suazo, how they are able to maintain success, he said, “It’s not really possible to deliver consistent experiences across all of the restaurants due to processes; it is due to the culture”.  

Bolthouse and Mina should be proud. The vision they brought to life and dubbed “a beautiful disaster” is anything but. It is a perfect marriage of taste. Our advice? “Never mind the Bollocks;” this place is for “Everyone”.

*We recently were invited (full disclosure) for a complimentary meal with the directive of simply providing our notes on this new location. This is not a paid promotion.

The Bungalow Kitchen
6400 Pacific Coast Hwy, Ste 200
Long Beach, CA 90803
562.719.9400

Photography Provided By: DW Varley, AVABLUE, Ryan Forbes and Jerritt Clark

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Erik Hale is the visionary and publisher behind LOCALE Magazine. He launched the magazine in 2010, wanting to give the community of OC a premiere lifestyle magazine that knew all the native knowledge behind OC. “Six years ago Ashley and I sat at a table scratching the name LOCALE (among some other names) onto a sheet of paper,” says Erik, “coming up with story ideas and basically dreaming. Everything we imagined has happened and we have been blessed with so much more. I am so grateful as we start another year for my family, my two wonderful children, my health, our amazing writers, designers and photographers, our advertising partners and you.”

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