Near the end of our trip to Los Angeles last month, while driving down the Pacific Coast Highway to visit Janet for tea, we stopped for brunch at the Starling Diner. Located on East Third Street in Long Beach, the look and feel of the Starling Diner is that of an old-time neighborhood institution. The food is comforting, the service friendly, and the fellow diners are, well, neighborly.
Starling Diner is all this despite having been around for less than five years. It is no surprise then to learn that owner Joan Samson made a very conscious effort to create a space that had that neighborhood institution feel. From their website:
In times past, neighborhoods were Communities where everyone casually knew each other and the gathering places were icons such as the front porch, the corner store and the neighborhood diner. It has always been our personal mission to create gathering spots that provide a sense of place along side the highest quality food and drinks. We live in and love Long Beach. We just made a place where we would like to meet our friends and connect.
My cousins had first brought me here in 2009 and I was eager to share the cute restaurant and tasty dining experience with Tawn. He wasn’t disappointed.
This pale green cruiser parked outside seems to exemplify the Starling Diner. Located amidst houses on a quiet street, this is the type of place you would hop on your bicycle and ride three blocks to meet some friends for breakfast at.
The tables are crowded with little tin tubs of all the condiments you might need. Interestingly, they serve water in these biodegradable corn-based plastic cups in order to save the environment. As I pointed out to the server (in a friendly, non-complaining sort of way), they would do more to save the environment to serve their cream, jellies, sugars, etc. in bulk containers rather than individual sachets and packages.
The fact that our server took that suggestion with a thoughtful smile and remained friendly and welcoming is a good example of the type of consistent service I’ve enjoyed during both my visits.
The highlight of the menu is the San Francisco stuffed French toast. Unlike most French toast, this is broiled not fried, and is made from baguette, not square loaf bread.
It does not disappoint! The result is something that is light and crispy rather than heavy and soggy like most French toast. This is a recipe I would like to learn to recreate at home.
Tawn had the crab cakes sandwich, which had these wonderful, large lump crab meat and tons of fresh greens. This was really tasty, too.
All in all, the only disappointment at the Starling Diner was that there were just the two of us and, as such, we were only able to try two items on the menu. Mark this on the list of places to come back to on a future visit!