Lyn Jensen's Blog: Manga, Music, and Politics

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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review: Parkers' Lighthouse, Long Beach

Random Lengths posted my Arts/Cusine/Entertainment story about Parkers' Lighthouse in Long Beach online.  It can be considered a restaurant review or a business feature:

Since links have a way of going down, here's the text:

Dine With a Queen in Long Beach

By Lyn Jensen

Beachfront dining is an everyday sport here in the South Bay, and 2014 has brought a remarkably summery winter and spring, even by California standards. That means we can enjoy Long Beach’s waterfront before tourist season hits. If you’re visiting the city harbor and looking to get away from chain restaurant menus, you’ll find Parkers’ Lighthouse offers a variety of unique dining experiences.

Having recently added Queensview Steakhouse on its top floor, Parkers’ Lighthouse now offers two restaurants in a single location. The building itself is one of Long Beach’s landmarks, with architecture that slightly resembles San Diego’s world-famous Hotel Coronado. It’s the place across the channel from the Queen Mary, dominating the Shoreline Village complex against a backdrop of the Long Beach downtown skyline.

According to the restaurant’s general manager Michael Cole, “Parkers’ Lighthouse opened in 1983 as part of the concept of Shoreline Village, as an anchor tenant. It’s become an icon in the city, and was most recently renovated in 2011, when the Queensview Steakhouse opened.”

Despite the building’s design, Cole says he doesn’t think it was intentionally built to resemble the Hotel Coronado.

Describing the variety of dining choices, Cole explains, “We’re two restaurants. Parker’s serves primarily seafood. The first and second level are served by the main kitchen. On the third floor we originally had the Seafood Gallery, with another kitchen, and it was more casual. That was 1983 to 2011. Then we looked at the third floor, with its panoramic view of the Queen Mary and downtown. We were not using that room to its full potential. We looked at the competition for steakhouses and there were not too many. So we developed a steakhouse on the third floor, which opened in 2011.”

Cole adds that Queensview is meant to be a more formal dining experience, “similar to Fleming’s or Ruth Chris.” Since the upgrade, he’s seen more visitors from Palos Verdes, San Pedro, Orange County, and Seal Beach.

Both restaurants attract locals, tourists, and conventions, Cole says. He adds the Parkers’ Lighthouse atmosphere is “casual but neat,” and seats 160, plus patio seating. They “get a lot of boaters” from the neighboring marina, and there’s no strict dress code.

A visit to Parkers’ Lighthouse finds every table on all floors offering spectacular oceanfront views. The establishment’s also known for its mesquite grilled fresh seafood and its award-winning wine list. At the seafood restaurant, the specialty is fresh fish grilled on mesquite hardwood. Biggest seller is the Chilean sea bass. The kitchen makes its own French fries.

To get to the third-floor steakhouse, walk the red carpet from the lobby and take the elevator. Here the signature dish is prime Porterhouse for two, cost $95. However, portions are large. One rib eye steak, one big baked potato, and one order of asparagus might be enough for two people, so order accordingly. Touches include bread served with multiple flavored butters, while orange slices in water glasses provide a change from the standard lemon or lime.

Cole says that although Parkers’ Lighthouse is part of a corporation, they’re not part of a chain in the usual sense. The parent company is Select Restaurants based in Cleveland. Parkers’ Lighthouse is the company’s only restaurant in southern California. The others are all in the eastern US. All are unique, all are under different management.

Easter and Mother’s Day are fast approaching, and Parkers’ annually offers special brunches for both holidays. Cole says, “We serve a brunch buffet and our regular dinner menu on these special occasions and the buffets are available at Parkers’ Lighthouse and on the third-floor Queensview.” He adds that, on these holidays, reservations are recommended but not necessary.

You needn’t wait for a holiday to have brunch while watching the waterfront, however. Every Sunday the Queensview offers a three-to-four-course plated brunch, with a “make your own Bloody Mary” bar. Food and the view aren’t only reasons to spend an evening or Sunday at Parkers’ or Queensview, either. Upstairs at the steakhouse, a piano lounge and live music are on the bill Tuesday-Sunday.

Downstairs there’s a jazz band on Friday nights. Cole also notes the Shoreline Village setting attracts visitors as a destination, “We have a lot to do. Being on the waterfront, shops and stores, people make a day of it.”

A visit to Parkers’ Lighthouse and Shoreline Village is about more than just finding a place to eat, so plan your time accordingly. The surroundings are almost like a miniature amusement park, with souvenir shops, boutiques, snack bars, the Rain Dance (selling Native American crafts), a waterfront promenade, and even boat rides and a stagehouse. Parking isn’t free, so remember to get your parking ticket validated as you dine and shop.

Parkers’ Lighthouse is open seven days a week, M-F, lunch 11-3, and dinner 5-10. Sat. 11-3:30, Sunday 4-10. The Queensview Steakhouse is open five nights, Tues-Sat. 5-10, plus Sunday for brunch, 10-2:30. The lounge is open 11-10 Sunday-Thursday and 11-11 Friday-Saturday. Happy Hour happens five nights per week, M-F, 3-5 on the patio and 3-7 in the lounge.