Walking into the Firkin is bittersweet. You see all the familiar faces of the staff and the regulars that haunted the now closed EJ Malloy’s but its different. It’s like someone dusted off EJs and what they found underneath was the Firkin. I don’t handle change very well and to be honest I wasn’t sure if I can accept the Firkin into my life. EJs meant so much to me, Shane, our trivia team, and the community, that we did not want it to go. But being an adult is accepting that things change.
I didn't want to give them a chance. The Firkin had their soft opening on August 16th or should I say, I saw on their Instagram that they had their soft opening. We didn't think we were going to go but $5 drafts happened and this chance happened a bit sooner than I would have liked. We sat down and saw all the same people behind the bar with a few new additions. We were handed a menu and a Fresh Squeezed IPA freshly squeezed from the tap. First thing we search for on the limited time, limited menu, are the wings. They have the Buffalo wings, the reason why we frequented EJs as much as we did.
I also noticed that there is a Nashville hot wing. My initial thought was well if they have a Nashville hot wing they would be foolish if they didn't have a Nashville hot chicken sandwich. Low and behold, there it is. I think the first and only Nashville hot chicken sandwich in Long Beach. So we got an order of Buffalo wings and a Nashville hot chicky sando aka Nashville hot chicky chicky what I will probably start calling it. The Nashville hot chicky chicky was great. They didn't go fancy in the bun which for a new restaurant using foodie buzzwords like brioche bun are commonplace. The bun was soft and chewy and there was a good flavor and heat that came from the chicken. The slaw could use a bit more acid to cut the hotness and fat but its a hot chicky sando not a slaw sando and the flavor from the chicken came through.
The wings are not the same and it's not a bad thing. They opted out of the usual Franks and butter and went with a different hot sauce that is sweeter, but still hot and when I think about it I don't think we requested a heat level. They wings themselves were crispy like they always were at EJs but instead of the usual orangey tone to the wing, they were red. They were good. EJs wings aside, these wings are better than most wings you will find in Long Beach.
It's hard to write about a new restaurant especially when the restaurant that it replaced was one that was so loved but you can't compare the two. The Firkin is trying to make a name for themselves in Long Beach. EJs itself replaced a long standing Irish pub and probably had similar experiences upon it's opening in 1992. They had time to grow into what I have come to know and love. It is not fair to asses a restaurant when you have only eaten there once and have not had a proper round of trivia, but there will be time for that. While I do miss the wings, I can still get them in Long Beach at the two other locations scattered around the city so not all is lost. I did think that I was going to miss EJs so much that I didn't want to step foot in the Firkin but I am happy to see and support a new restaurant in the neighborhood. I am excited to see how they grow and eventually shake the dust that EJs left behind.