Simpler times at Bake N Broil for the District:
PHOTO by ROSHEILA ROBLES
Jongewaard’s Bake N Broil is a habit for some and a ritual for most, a Long Beach tradition so lovingly passed down through generations that it seems almost hereditary. The unfortunate few who are somehow born without this innate affection eventually develop it—Bake N Broil’s time-warped simplicity is too charming to deny.
The restaurant earned that endless admiration as a result of its relentlessly steady character: Bake N Broil is one of the city’s few undoubted institutions, the kind of eatery that has never faltered, much less pandered. Although the restaurant is in dwindling company when it comes to this integrity, Bake N Broil still stands strong—here, you always know what you’re going to get.
So too, it seems, do the regulars who rise with the sun for a cup and a chat. Bake N Broil isn’t at its liveliest at breakfast, but it’s then that the restaurant is at its most convivial. Shared conversations cut through the morning haze just as well as a strong cup of coffee, and as a result, breakfast is memorable here. If it’s too early for a slice of pie, try a piece of quiche. The recipe rotates daily, but its quality is constant, accompanied by a muffin and either applesauce, fruit or salad. The usual array of egg combinations is offered (try the Polish sausage and eggs), but pancakes are truly the order of the day. Bake N Broil’s versions are supremely fluffy, classically minded cakes representing distinct schools: buttermilk, whole wheat, blueberry and banana nut.
The afternoon finds Bake N Broil at its busiest, as late-risers stroll in alongside lunching workers. It’s also when Bake N Broil unfurls its most complete menu. There’s plenty to choose from, but it’s tough to pass up Bake N Broil’s burger. Unlike some of its nouveau peers, this burger is pure Americana: Thousand Island, tomato, pickle, lettuce, onion (grilled on request) and optional cheese. Cooked to a satisfying char, the burger perfectly fills the space between its gourmet and backyard brothers.
But there’s plenty else to like on the lunch menu. Beyond the burger, there’s a whole host of admirable sandwiches, including the California chicken (broiled breast, avocado, tomato and cheese) and pot roast (freshly baked roast, tomato, lettuce and a side of horseradish sauce). Salads also fare well at Bake N Broil, unfussy things that epitomize the restaurant’s homey style perhaps more than anything else.
They’re certainly unglamorous, but Bake N Broil’s low-calorie plates are a necessity for those who want to maintain lifelong loyalty to the restaurant. Think ground beef, broiled chicken and sirloin served plainly with cottage cheese, tomato, pineapple and a boiled egg.
Compared to the sprawling selections at breakfast and lunch, dinner is a relatively perfunctory experience that revolves around diner classics like chicken-fried steak, roasted chicken and broiled cod. The daily specials, however, allow for a bit more inspiration and are also an easy way to break the cycle of liver and onions.
Ending a meal at Bake N Broil is never easy—the restaurant’s sweet side has always been a sure source of temptation. In the morning, it might be a block of crumbling coffee cake or a burger-size cinnamon roll. At lunch, it’s probably a slice of pie, be it seasonal olallieberry or mountainous lemon cream. At all hours, it’s the luscious red velvet cake, which is transformed into an even hotter commodity when it’s atomized into adorably iced cupcakes.
Despite all the choices available to you at Bake N Broil, the restaurant is inevitably one that invites regularity. If you haven’t already, you’ll latch onto at least one item, a choice that will ultimately reveal as much about you as it does the restaurant. It might be sweet, maybe it’ll be savory, but it will always be comforting.
JONGEWAARD’S BAKE N BROIL 3697 ATLANTIC AVE | LONG BEACH 90807 | 562.595.0396 | OPEN MON-FRI 6:30AM-9PM | SAT-SUN 7AM-9PM | FOOD FOR TWO $15-30