951 West Beech St, Long Beach (516) 442-2606
Eating at Lost & Found won’t break the bank but it might break some eardrums. It’s a hip, hot, bare bones spot that’s been drawing young, adven- turous foodies since it opened in February. Crowds of pathbreaking diners who obviously consider it the place to be, have been besieging this hard- surfaced storefront.
The casual, cash-only, BYOB eatery is arranged with bare plank wood tables, exposed beams, a communal table, an open kitchen, stools and hanging pots and pans. Those reuse their utensils. The kitchen announces when dishes are ready by shouting into the din. Those who can tune out the hubbub and concentrate on the sometimes inspiring and always solid cooking will be happy campers.
Two mountain-sized salads—one heirloom tomato and bread, the other a fig and arugula version—easily fed four. The former blended rye and ciabatta breads with ripe, vibrant tomatoes augmented by ricotta, dill and sunflower seeds ($13). The latter was a mellow mélange of arugula, melon and ham with just a sparse sprinkling of figs ($12). Ever eat skate wings schnitzel ($17)? Me neither. This small plate is a little strip of skate wing pepped-up by a topping of white anchovy, lemon and capers. It’s a dish that’s typical of the no-cliché menu. Similarly, a line of chewy but tasty hanger steak is enlivened by a topside sprinkling of olive chimichurri ($15).
At $45 and worth every penny of it, is a gargantuan portion of chili-lime chicken. This organic, free-range beauty provides huge chunks of hefty, luscious meat, enough for four hearty eaters (however, the four of us took some home). While Alexis Trolf, who was the chef and co-owner of the now closed Caffe Laguna, is responsible for both the precision and playfulness of the diverse, small-plate menu, Jamie O’Rourke presides over the desserts and makes them memorable finales of the meal. Her smooth textured dark chocolate panna cotta of thick fudge sauce, cocoa nibs, dulce de leche and gobs of whipped cream ($9) is a chocolate lover’s fantasy. Speaking of whipped cream, the vanilla bean variety is a perfect off-set for the tangy key lime chiffon tart with scrunchy Graham crust ($9). But the layered vanilla bean pot de crème is dominated by sweet raspberry agrodulce that contrasts with its unexpected sesame seed brittle ($8).
The inventiveness and attention to proper cooking on all fronts is to be applauded (and enjoyed) though this diner wishes the restaurant had also invented a low-key atmosphere more conducive to and befitting the chefs’ culinary aspirations.