Okay, that style may remind you of your own house circa 1969, but is also reminiscent of a modern bistro on New York’s tony eastside, or then again, a charcuterie in Tuscany – or even a quality that suggests the simplicity and high-end wine country cuisine of the Napa Valley.
The Biggs Move
Photo A: Biggs G.M. Bernard Boivin working with the restaurant’s signature artisan flatbread
The latest move to perk up the restaurant scene is just within Long Beach’s reach in trendy Belmont Shores. Biggs name may sound like some hamburger joint, where bigger is better, but don’t let the amusing name fool you.
Biggs is a fresh face on 2nd Avenue, inspired by artisan dishes with organic ingredients. The concept: Small plates – not tapas – but a novel approach that we can refer to as small Biggs, globally influenced dishes that are motivated through relationships with farmers, purveyors and growers.
“For me, it’s a refreshing way to cook,” says Chef Seth Greenberg, the 34-year-old teammate of Biggs other Chef, Amy Pressman. “Egos aside, Amy and I click in the kitchen.”
With little manipulation, the duo’s fresh dishes extend to the philosophy of the drink menu. With the blessings of Owner Brett Witke, who designed the narrow but functional space from front to back, Biggs is not about size, but about the shape of things to come.
Everything flows naturally at Biggs, and behind the bar is no exception.
An employable old-school press is the source for juicing, a utilitarian machine that has helped cause an explosion of the best – yes, the best – fresh fruit cocktails our editorial staff have experienced to date.
Ku at the Core
The foundation for these cocktails is Ku Soju, a Korean spirit that, with only 24 percent alcohol by volume (48 proof), is refreshing, clean and a bit sweet. Soju is a vodka-like product that has a clean, refreshingly crisp flavor, only less intoxicating, with one-third less calories. It is an ancient spirit developed in the 13th Century, solely for the Emperors of China. Soju outsells vodka almost three to one on a worldwide basis, but has just recently been introduced into the U.S. by Ku Soju, Inc.
Thanks to its sweet potato base, Ku Soju is Bigg’s sweetheart dealmaker, allowing a wine and beer licensee the privilege of awe-inspiring, healthy cocktails. Open since mid-September, Biggs has turned its bar menu into a haven of heavenly delights.
“Before Ku, I didn’t understand the versatility of a Soju, and we tasted every one we could get our hands on,” claimed Witke.
“Ku was the cleanest,” Chef Greenberg insisted. “Amy and I are pretty discerning when it comes to identifying flavors and Ku lent itself to some savory recipes.”
Ku’s World’s Best Cocktails at BIGGS
KU Mint Lemonade (Photo 1)
BIGGS Owner Brett Witke with the KU Blackberry Mojito (Photo 2)
KU Raspberry Martini (Photo 3)
KU Tangertini (Photo 4)
The KU Golden Mary, Biggs version of the Bloody Mary with Heirloom tomatoes and a side of Salumi (gourmet) meats, flown in from Seattle (Photo 5)
Modern Talent: Brett Witke
Studying architecture in Paris was one of the many educational adventures that Brett Witke, owner/partner in Biggs, would undertake. In the midst of graduating from Pepperdine in the ‘80s, Witke was at his peak, designing and building, and eventually owning clubs, such as the T. Room, BC and au petit café.
“From there, I would design other people’s restaurants, but eventually late nights out were getting rough, so I opted to design furniture and home accessories.”
But his love for the dining scene led him to continue his pursuit of excellence and Witke designed JAR, M Bistro, Town & Country and most currently, BIGGS.
Working with restaurateur Nancy Singleton, BIGGS became a reality in retro time and space, with a nod to the future of the art of fine cuisine.
Photo: That ‘70s feeling. The front entrance of BIGGS are actual circa 1971 Belgian hotel doors, which have been displayed at galleries from coast to coast.