By Gretchen Williams, Dining and Cuisine Writer
The pub is cozy and welcoming, with a massive carved bar and classic beer taps. Antique art and old country memorabilia line the walls, and deep leather banquettes invite a visit.
Authentic pub dishes like shepherd’s pie and fish and chips head a familiar menu and the aroma of freshly baked soda bread fills the air. Pub chips are just the thing to accompany the excellent beers on tap or a cool Guinness.
Roasted leg of lamb or beef Wellington, and now traditional roasted turkey make it seem like home. In the United Kingdom the pub is everyone’s second living room, and the longing for home often includes the local.
Historic establishments bring the familiar feelings of a different age back to life with a menu of favorites, like Sunday marinara or wet beef sandwich or beef stew, with a water glass of the local red.
Just walking into a legendary establishment will bring to mind the beloved faces of long-gone friends. The encompassing feeling of nostalgia coupled with the love of place gives tremendous meaning to the long-lived family restaurant tradition.
Coffee and blueberry pancakes can be compelling, luring even the late sleeper to the table. For some, the suggestion of huevos rancheros is the key, with house-made salsa.
Salmon Benedict is a morning dish rarely found outside a port town. Beef stroganoff omelette is tempting. Sunshine pouring in the window brings cheer to the day.
Our restaurant scene was dearly missed, and we did not realize how vital it is to our daily lives. Yes, we can feed ourselves, barely, but much more is involved in our restaurant lives than the wonderful and varied food. Conversation and social interaction are huge parts of our time in restaurants, and participation in our local culture is important as well.
The Whale & Ale is open again and welcoming guests to San Pedro’s favorite pub, serving its pub favorites, as well as flavorful curries with chicken or shrimp or veggies, or portobello mushroom burger, sure to appeal to the vegetarian set.
The Whale & Ale is proud of its pub burger, made with choice beef and best ordered with a side of splendid house-made horseradish. Served with lovely English chips, this burger is a strong competitor for the best burger in Los Angeles.
Equally deserving of praise is the house salad, crispy greens with mushrooms, chopped walnuts and bleu cheese crumbles, tossed with house-made creamy salad dressing.
The Whale & Ale is at 327 W. 7th St., San Pedro.
J. Trani’s Ristorante is the historic legacy of the Majestic Café, started in 1925 by Chef Dustin Trani’s great-grandfather Filippo Trani. Hailing from the island of Ischia, the Trani family continues the tradition of home-style Italian food with the original marinara sauce and meatballs, crisp crust pizza and the legendary roast beef sandwich.
Chef Dustin Trani has brought the menu into the modern age, cold-smoking local swordfish for a spectacular appetizer, hand-rolling pasta for delicate spinach or butternut squash ravioli and grilling ahi tuna to perfect rare. Filippo’s bronze portrait in the entry shows the affectionate rubs of the nose for luck. Dustin’s great-grandfather would be very proud of his family’s tradition, carried on for almost a century.
J.Trani’s Ristorante is at 584 W. 9th St., San Pedro.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially if you are trying to catch up with all the happenings in downtown. Think Café is at the cutting edge of downtown, offering terrific coffee, as well as sublime blueberry pancakes, great omelets and salmon benedict. Think Café has long been the popular place to meet on 5th Street, with a charming garden patio for outdoor dining already established.
Think Café is at 302 W. 5th St., Suite 105, San Pedro.