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Restaurant Suggestions for Dad's B-Day: Pasadena area

Friday is my dad's 84th birthday and we want to take him out for
dinner. My parents (my dad especially) enjoy going out to eat,
but are not big on what restaurants they go to. In fact, my dad's
first choice was Clancy's Crab Broiler in Glendale before I told
him that I hate it there.
My partner and I don't eat meat or poultry, but most fish is okay.
My folks are not big on ethnic other than Italian or Mexican (very basic Mexican).
We would like to go someplace different, but not too fancy or stuffy.
I was thinking Cafe Bizou in Pasadena but read some old reviews
and it doesn't sound that appealing, especially the "crowded" part.
Does it still get really crowded?
Any ideas? We're in Silver Lake so we're thinking Pasadena might
be nice...besides my parents like it there.

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  1. Try the RAYMOND in Pasadena (http://theraymond.com/).

    It always has one or two seafood items on the menu plus a couple of non-meat pasta dishes like ravioli or gnocchi.

    1. Trattoria Tre Venezie, on Greenstreet, is known for its authentic northeastern Italian menu. It's a small, quaint, special occasion place. If you fear it may be too stuffy, you could consider Celestino, on South Lake Ave. The place can get busy, but make reservations. It's a lively atmosphere on busy nights, very excellent Italian food. The owner is Drago - his other restaurants are in BH and SM. Both restaurants definitely have seafood.

      The Raymond, as another poster mentioned, is another place to consider. However, it might be a bit fancy, too...and quite pricey.

      happy birthday to your dad!

      5 Replies
      1. re: chica

        Actually, I believe Tre Venezie is tad more expensive than The Raymond.

        Both are good, nonetheless.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Please correct me if I'm wrong, but Tre Venezie is one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive, restaurant in Pasadena.

          1. re: ilikefood

            You are not wrong. More than even the Parkway Grill, which is way expensive.

            1. re: ilikefood

              No, there are definitely more or at least equally expensive restaurants in Pasadena. The Ritz Carlton Huntington Restaurant, for one.

              1. re: chica

                Yes, you are right. The Ritz probably holds the most expensive title. Others are the Arroyo Chop House if you let them pick glasses of wine and order the lobster - ok that's insane, but I have been a victim, Ruth's Chris, and... Tre Venezie is probably next.

        2. I've never had a problem with crowds or feeling overly cramped at Cafe Bizou. It's a fairly large restaurant (separated into 3 larger dining areas) -- when you make a reservation, I'd mention the 84th b'day and ask to be seated in the most quiet section, or maybe in a corner of one of the rooms. What I could see as an issue is parking and dealing with the busyness of Old Town on the weekend (unless you valet).

          I'm not exactly sure what you mean by stuffy (pretentious?) or fancy (typical special occasion-type places??) -- but Gale's Italian (on Fair Oaks - always from Old Town) comes to mind as another option. It can be crowded, although, with a reservation, you should be fine (as far as waiting is concerned). The tables are spaced closely together (kind of like a bistro feel) and it can be loud, depending on who's next to you. However, I've had some fantastic meals there (including b'day ones) -- and think it would be a nice option.

          1. What about Parkway Grill in Pasadena? Pretty diverse menu with an american slant. Not too fancy (definately not stuffy), but still feels like a special night out. IIRC the chef grows his own herbs in the back of the restaurant. The bread basket sticks out in my memory as being just amazing and they make some great items in the woodfired oven. I havent been in a while but I remember the prices being appropriate for the food and atmosphere. I know this place gets praise from a lot of hounds on this board. Check out the site.

            1 Reply
            1. re: MEalcentric

              Love Parkway Grill--a classic.
              (Have yet to go to Smitty's, is it still good?)

            2. Another option might be Arroyo Chop House. Although the focus is on steak, their fish dishes are well prepared, and it's a nice ambience -- not too noisy.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Amuse Bouches

                Parkway Grill easily over ACH (same owners, same price range). Especially considering 2 will be non-carnivores.

              2. Marston's on Walnut has the loveliest porch (the restaurant is situated in a beautiful old house) Menu is smallish but with great attention to ingredients and the service is warm and friendly. They are famous for their breakfasts but I enjoyed a quiet, comfortable dinner there.

                And right now, Pasadena is hosting free concerts in the park across the street at 8 pm. So you can eat outside and enjoy a warm evening and live music from across the street!

                1. In my opinion, Parkway Grill is THE place to go in Pasadena to celebrate a birthday. Anybody of any age who appreciate "perfectly done" will appreciate PG. It really nails what a fine dining restaurant should be. Gets an A+ in every category you'd grade a restaurant on. Check their website. Reservations r a must-ASAP. Cafe Bizou is my favorite restaurant to eat at regularly in Pasadena. Not expensive- Good French/Cal food, Good value. Busy but not overly crowded, reservations recommended, esp on a weekend.
                  Exclnt interior and about a third less the price PG will set you back, but hey it's your Dad's B-day go PG. He'll be even happier he had you.

                  1. Another vote for Parkway here. Service is always perfect, the food is great and the ambience is nice. Comfy chairs, great wine selection.....some people think this place is too "old" but I LOVE it and I'm in my early 30's. It's the one place in Pasadena that never fails. Try the oysters, steaks, cocoa crepe w/ lobster, ceasar salad.......excellent desserts too.

                    Tuna Toast: http://tokyoastrogirl.blogspot.com/

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: tokyoastrogirl

                      As for the desserts, I highly recommend the banana crunch (insert noun), or the s'mores, or any of their sorbets and ice cream.

                      1. re: chica

                        Agree completely--those who think it is "old" chase trends.

                        Speaking of their desserts, the Creme Brule Napoleon is out of this world! They also do excellent crisps, and bread pudding.