Pigburd, a Gastropub Evolved

Kitchen views. Photo by Erin DeWitt

Late last year, Alsatian restaurant 4th & Olive announced its last day of operation. It looked like yet another shuttering of a cool local eatery, of which we have dishearteningly seen several in the past few months. But out of 4th & Olive’s ashes, Pigburd was born. “It’s the crew from 4th & Olive, but with new executive chef Raquel Jubran,” explains owner/general manager Dan Tapia. “So, it’s less of a rebranding and more of a new concept, with a new chef driving it.”

Tapia, a Navy veteran who has worked in restaurants since his teen years, is a sommelier with experience at Mozza and Bouchon Beverly Hills. Co-owner Jubran, an Air Force veteran who also worked with Lasher’s Kitchen (both old and new versions), as well as the Attic, is helping to steer Pigburd’s menu in a locally sourced direction. The new restaurant’s website offers clear information about the kitchen’s preparation methods, as well as the ranches and farms the staff source from (it should also be noted the butchering is done in-house). Pigburd declares itself “a higher level of eating” that “rebel[s] against the cookie cutter gastropub.” And if this menu is any indication of what Pigburd stands for, then we’re absolutely here for it.

Heaven in a ramekin. Photo by Erin DeWitt

An unabashedly decadent option, the duck liver mousse is downright dreamy. Rich, dense and velvety, the pâté is served in a ramekin and accompanied by sharp pickled vegetables (tiny carrots, fuchsia-colored onions, actual pickles) and chewy slices of house-baked sourdough bread. According to the menu, the mousse is “like meat butter,” but that’s a humble understatement of the depth of flavor found in its little bowl.

Still in its soft-opening stage, the restaurant divides its dishes into five categories: tapas, salads, snacks, burgers and entrées. The Chickories Salad is described as “a little bit bitter and earthy” and comes with pancetta and roasted chickpeas. There’s vegan chili and vegan polenta cakes, plus a Cauli-fornia burger (with a cauliflower meat-alternative) topped with herb pesto and almond relish.

Tapia says Pigburd boasts many house specialties, including the lentil shepard’s pie, tamarind wings, house-made beef jerky (hot and peppery squares with succulent strips of smoked fat marbling each one), ginger branzino “and a whole bunch more awesome stuff.”

Though the entire menu is both thoughtfully composed and imaginative, there are a few standouts. For instance, behold the Tommy 4 Two: “Two huge pork chops the size of your head. Almost. Depending on the person.”

Someone give this dish a medal! Photo by Erin DeWittBut if a best dish must be awarded, that prize goes to the lobster paella. Presented in a cast-iron skillet, this artfully designed, fat-grained rice dish is loaded with white branzino, clams, mussels, sausage and bright-red hunks of lobster, all steeped in a buttery, herby, lemony broth, of which every last drop will be scraped from the pan.

For early risers, the restaurant offers breakfast, too. “[Our breakfast menu] has about six different chicken-and-biscuit sammies that will cure a broken soul,” Tapia says. Still being finalized, breakfast is currently only available Wednesday through Sunday.

An official grand opening date is looming, but things seem to be running well during the interim. Aside from the lack of signage, a passerby would have no hint that Pigburd is still in its soft-opening phase. That’s because good things take time, and they’re not into rushing the process. “We wanted to develop a dining experience where we can have a chill, laid-back night with the community,” says Tapia. “But we still take our food serious AF.”

Pigburd, 743 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, (562) 269-0731; www.pigburd.com.

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