Thursday, July 18, 2024

FIRST LOOK: Hartland’s opens with rare, perched-above-the-beach experience in Long Beach

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Restaurateur and chef Rob White just announced he would be taking over the former Plunge space at 1900 Ocean with a new concept. And is now ready to debut Hartland’s for the Long Beach food scene—complete with utterly gorgeous views of the coastline—today.

What is Hartland’s and what can patrons expect?

For its opening, Hartland’s will be daytime space that runs from 7AM to 2PM daily with an approachable menu, multiple to-go items, and an array of coffee and drinks with beer and wine to come. You have breakfast burritos and avocado toast along with fried chicken sandwiches and an array of salads. It’s forthright, simple, seasonal, and affordable—three things people aren’t angry at right now.

And when it comes down to it, for the time being, it doesn’t plan on reinventing the wheel: Rob openly—even if begrudgingly—admits that Hartland’s isn’t deeply chef-driven (at least for now); this, however, doesn’t mean it isn’t quality. The thing that Hartland’s needs to be, first and foremost, is successful. And this isn’t just for its business owners. It’s for the tower’s residents and the surrounding neighborhood and the city.

After all, Hartland’s comes with some of the city’s most spectacular views—but it also draws the question of what happened to the first space in the first place.

What happened to Plunge, the former tenant?

Plunge LBC’s closure just this past April was a rather sad notice for residents of the 1900 Ocean tower and neighborhood alike: Owner Randy Kolstad was not only one of the most down-to-earth folks you’ll encounter at Plunge, he has created an enclave for food lovers wishing to escape the concrete metropolis of Ocean and enjoy an almost secretive space.

At Plunge, one could score wine through a system that had let you load money on a card and have at it. There was grab’n’go. There were those aforementioned views.

On top of it all, you had fantastic comfort food—food that garnered it a spot on one of my first Underrated Restaurants list: a pastrami on rye, mac’n’cheese… And each superseded their commonality while you also had a healthy array of vegan options. And, perhaps the oddest bit of it all, you have tower residents coming in to either fill up on wine themselves or lounge around because, well, you’re in their apartment complex. Strike up a conversation—but most importantly, order some food.

In this sense, Hartland’s doesn’t stray far from that core—because that core is what makes the space so damn attractive. What you have to have is a healthy balance of hours, quality but not overtly expensive food (at least for now), and a focus on, well staying open.

That last point can come off as harsh—

A look at some Hartland’s menu highlights

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The good ol’ cheeseburger from Hartland’s. Photos by Brian Addison.

The cheeseburger isn’t listed as anything but a cheeseburger—a welcomed addition to the scene and a return to, well, forthrightness. The burger, however, is anything but basic, layered with quality white cheddar, shreds of romain, thick ass pickles, a good ol’ aioli, and a rightfully seasoned seven-ounce angus patty.

Ah, the hopeful return of chef salads would make my inner child glow: Long gone are the days where a pile of iceberg is stacked with absurd amounts of blue cheese rocks (not pebbles), half a pound of bacon, three hard boiled eggs, and an ungodly slathering of some creamy dressing. And, in all frankness, that is okay.

But the return of proper chef salads is something I would happily welcome—such as Hartland’s, where layers of succulent turkey are paired with thick squares of salami, slivers of bitter Swiss cheese, plenty of avocado, croutons, and a (thank the gods) vinaigrette.

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The turkey club sandwich from Hartland’s. Photos by Brian Addison.

It isn’t that people want complicated; they simply want things done well. And the turkey club at Hartland’s is no exception: Buttered’n’browned sourdough slices are stuffed with thick tomato slices, almost as thick bacon, plenty of turkey, and a nice multi-level arrangement of Swiss cheese with a nice little sliver of avocado.

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The peach and burrata salad from Hartland’s. Photos by Brian Addison.

If people are remiss on stone fruit, burrata, and arugula, you are missing out on an Italian summer tradition. Sweet, tangy, creamy, peppery—it’s a classic combination that isn’t fussy nor should it be. And that also goes for their fried chicken sandwich, a classic fried piece of chicken with fried jalapeños for a little heat, some slaw, some pickles, and some comeback sauce. No fuss—just quality.

And that is Hartland’s. And that is why it should be welcomed. It isn’t here to be but anything except a neighborhood staple. So go. It’s open. Right now in fact—well, unless it’s past 2PM when you read this.

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Hartland’s is located inside the 1900 Ocean Blvd. residential tower. Enter through the lobby and take the stairs to the right to the next level or the elevator to the second floor.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

2 COMMENTS

    • It is mentioned both in the beginning and at the end: ‘Hartland’s is located inside the 1900 Ocean Blvd. residential tower. Enter through the lobby and take the stairs to the right to the next level or the elevator to the second floor.’

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