“I wanted to honor the history of the building where my café is. It was built in 1929, and its original purpose was a firehouse,” explains Hugo Du Bois De Rothschild of his dollhouse-like eatery on Broadway and Temple in Long Beach. Firehouse Kitchen opened just two months ago, but step inside, and you’re surrounded by storybook-level, vintage cuteness. Every little bauble, carefully lettered and illustrated chalkboard sign, and glass cloche is arranged and placed just so. And it’s all perfectly matching in red and white. Patrons can eat at the cheery red tables and patio chairs that are set up on the sidewalk or at the cozy, high-top bar behind a garden-lined storefront window.
“[Firehouse Kitchen has] an ambiance that existed many years ago that it is very hard to re-create,” says Du Bois De Rothschild of the café’s nostalgic aesthetic. “We’re a unique, quaint place to come enjoy a great cup of coffee and home-baked goods.”
Du Bois De Rothschild grew up in Long Beach, and after a brief stint in Los Angeles, he moved back a few years ago. As for his kitchen experience, his résumé is pretty solid: He was a pastry chef for Café Pinot by Patina, then worked as kitchen manager for Spago in Beverly Hills, sharing his office with Wolfgang Puck. His company catered the Emmy Awards and American Idol, plus private parties for many celebrities. Most recently, Du Bois De Rothschild was a pastry chef for Marriott.
“It took about a year for everything,” Du Bois De Rothschild recounts of the café’s construction process. “The only thing we kept were the original stenciled floors,” which have a lace-printed pattern.
While a full menu is in the works, Firehouse Kitchen currently offers a generous selection of baked goods (all made in-house) and coffee service. “We have exceptional coffee; I have created just the right balance in taste. Our specialty drink would be the lavender latte,” notes Du Bois De Rothschild. “I recommend getting it iced to really bring out the flavor.”
Served beautifully layered for optimal ’gramability, the latte is a combination of strong brewed coffee, oat milk (regular dairy milk is also available) and a homemade deep-purple lavender syrup. Not the least bit sweet, nor perfume-y like some lavender creations can be, this is instead a cool, herbal rendition of the classic espresso-and-milk beverage.
Another Firehouse specialty is the scrumptious scones, specifically the lemon-blueberry option. Drizzled in a pale, sugary glaze, these completely addictive treats are extra buttery and have a perfect density: substantial but not heavy. Lemon zest adds brightness and a subtle tang.
As beautiful as everything looks—from the one-bite beignets filled with an assortment of jammy or fudgy fillings to the chocolate croissants to the frosting-capped carrot cake—the items here are wonderfully undersweetened. Even the chocolate-raspberry ganache cake, which is topped with smooth, almost-black ganache and dotted with fresh raspberries, is deliciously moist and loaded with bitter dark chocolate.
Savory items include bagels, quiches, and, most notably, the mushroom-and-turkey-sausage tart, for which a flaky pastry crust is piled high with sliced mushrooms and sausage crumbles. Du Bois De Rothschild mentions this one sells fast and is hard to keep stocked.
The majority of the new restaurants popping up around town are modern, trendy concepts, so it’s nice to see something old-timey and whimsical join the neighborhood. “We wanted to bring something classy, delicious and inspiring to others,” says Du Bois De Rothschild. “A place where friends can meet and have lovely conversations over a nice cup of coffee.” And quite possibly the best scones in town.
Firehouse Kitchen, 2742 E. Broadway, Long Beach, (562) 588-9468.