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BEACH GOURMET: The Firehouse:: C’mon Baby, Light My Fire

It’s big, it’s red and it sits on the corner of Rose Avenue and Main Street in Venice. Yes, it’s The Firehouse Restaurant and Bar.

Although first opened as a restaurant in late 1986, the building itself was constructed in 1902 and, as the name suggests, was designed as an area firehouse and used as such until the early ’50s when it became an antique store. It has since availed itself as an artist’s studio and a lingerie shop, amongst other things, prior to becoming what is now something of an iconic beach area cook shack.

With the restaurant split into two sections, a recent weekend lunch revealed that The Firehouse Restaurant and Bar is busy, noisy and popular, particularly with the bodybuilding set visiting from the adjacent Gold’s Gym, whose gastronomical predilections are well catered for by such menu items as the Body Builders breakfasts. One such breakfast includes a ground turkey and egg white scramble with cilantro and tomato ($7.50), while another features buffalo meat and egg whites scrambled with mushrooms, cilantro and tomato ($9.25). A Body Builders dinner includes a half roasted skinless chicken with steamed vegetables and a choice of baked yam, baked potato, rice or pasta ($12.95).

Being a breakfast, lunch and dinner establishment, one clearly expects a comprehensive menu, but the Firehouse boasts a document that is as voluminous as the Patriot Act, albeit not as confusing, with an amazing array of selections ranging from Tofu Scramble (tofu scrambled with eggs, onions, tomatoes and green pepper, served with breakfast spuds and toast, $8.25), a bundle of omelettes from $9.75, salmon teriyaki (pan-seared salmon with teriyaki sauce, served with steamed vegetables and rice, 13.95), four kinds of pasta ($9.95 a pop) and Tandoori Chicken (grilled chicken marinated in yogurt and Indian spices, accompanied by cucumber raita and mango chutney and served with pita bread or rice, $13.95).

Including a sushi bar happy hour from 5 to 7p.m. on Monday through Friday, the menu can best be described as United Nations in character. I ordered a Turkey Burger (served with lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles with a choice of French fries, coleslaw or potato salad, $8.50). My guest chose Eggs Benedict (hollandaise sauce over poached eggs, spinach and an English muffin, served with country style potatoes, $9.95).

While we waited for the orders, I scanned the room and enjoyed viewing the numerous models of fire memorabilia affixed to the walls in neat glass cabinets, and also viewed some neat period photos depicting some rather staid and stoic looking firemen.

The dishes arrived and were as advertised. My turkey burger was generous and juicy, served with some dainty little mini-fries, and my friend described his Benedict as tasty and satisfying. All in all, pretty standard dishes in design, but tasty, good quality and with portions of a plenteous nature.

Speaking of nature, I must give credit to The Firehouse policy of local and environmental consideration. They use only 100 percent natural chicken, bread from local bakeries, organic eggs from area farmers’ markets and zero trans fat cooking oil in the preparation of their dishes.

One curious thing though. With all the Mr. and Ms. Universes, iron pumpers and treadmill treaders present, I could not find mussels anywhere on the menu. Hmmm.

The Firehouse, 213 Rose Avenue, Venice, 310.396.6810 

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