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Mother-in-Law B'Day Dinner in Pas - Recs?

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The MIL is going to meet us "halfway" from Diamond Bar to celebrate her b'day in Pasadena this Friday. Recently widowed, she's been kinda blue and increasingly picky. Doesn't want Italian or Asian food. Seafood is not necessarily ruled out but she's been all but living on Trader Joe's tilapia if that speaks to anything.

Previous Pas dinners with her have included Celestino's (I loved it), Parkway Grill (too many misty memories for her now) and Twin Palms. She likes her Rob Roy and a good steak so I was thinking either the Arroyo Chop House, Houston's or Smitty's. The SO and I have not been to the latter two and are coming up blank on anything else. Help, chows! TIA

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  1. There has some discussion lately about Mike and Anne's in South Pasadena, and I gotta say, I have now been twice in 2 weeks. Nice place, great service if you sit in Rick's section, and menu is pretty broad with seafood, vegetarian dishes, pork and even a burger on the dinner menu. I went with a group and we ate ourselves silly for $110 (pre-tip) and that was 4 mains, 2 desserts, 1 order of onion rings to share. I'm including a their link. Reservations accepted.
    http://mikeandannes.com/

    1. Stay far far far away from Smitty's!!! Oh it's so awful. Horrible American Grill food. Just giant portions to fill up a big gut, low-quality ingredients, no flavor or tinny flavor (the chicken pot pie I got tasted tinny).

      I loved Celestino's too.

      Houston's is decent food, probably several notches below Arroyo Chop House. There's also a new Ruth Chris on Colorado across from the Paseo.

      1. There is Monty's Steak House in Pasadena as well. Never been to that one but the one in Woodland Hills is pretty good and definitely cheaper than Arroyo.

        2 Replies
        1. re: markn

          Monty's has been there for over 50 years so they must be doing something right, but the last time I at there I had a bone-in rib eye that was pretty tasteless. Really-- with every bite I kept trying to find the flavor. Maybe that's just be my own experience.

          1. re: ilikefood

            I've had pretty good luck with the filet mignon, I like their onion rings too. And good stiff BIG martinis.

            Another option for the OP is drive up the 210 a few miles to Taylor's in La Canada.

        2. MIKE AND ANNE'S (as suggested by kotatsu above) is a solid choice. I've been several times and the patio is lovely, service is friendly and charming, and the food is very good (although the fish can be overcooked at times so tell the servers ahead of time). Plus, if it matters to you, all wines (except a couple) are by the glass.

          If you want to go the Italian route (a la Celestino) give BRIGANTI a try. Great courtyard area, refined yet rustic pasta dishes and very tasty pizzas.

          www.brigantirestaurant.com

          2 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Re: Mike and Anne's, do you know if their menu changes daily or expands - the menu on their website is from 2005 (?) and seems very nice but a bit limited.

            1. re: Silver Lake Guy

              Changes weekly (or thereabouts).

              There are no daily specials per se.

              Some items appear to be keepers, like the Beet Salad, the Pork Chop, and the Mike&Anne's Burger.

              New items that I've seen/eaten from the menu include lobster ravioli and scallops as appetizers, salmon and short ribs as entrees.

              If you are curious, call ahead.

          2. My condolences to your Mother-in-law and family and sorry to hear that rules out Parkway Grill but very understandable. It might also rule out Arroyo Chophouse since it's right next PG. If you really want to treat her special I'd recommend Derek's Bistro on S Marengo or Raymond Street Restaurant on S Fair Oaks at Pasadena-S Pasadena border. Derek's is pricier than PG, Raymond St. is about the same or maybe a little pricier, but both are well worth it. Advance reservations are a must for both for a Fri night. Smitty's is very good for steak and comfort foods (same owners as PG & AC) but I wouldn't recommend Houston's. Food, service, and interior are good but nothing special.
            I've only eaten at Mike & Anne's once and that was for brunch. Egg dish was pretty disappointing but I will go back for dinner. Not really special interior/atmosphere.

            1. My sincerest condolences.

              I would recommend Arroyo and Houston's but both are so proximal to Parkway Grill.

              Ruth Chris is fairly new and across from Paseo. I think it would fit the appetite and the occasion.

              2 Replies
              1. re: chica

                Ruth's Chris is a good choice for fine dining steakhouse. Cost?- Lets just say it's for those where money is no object & those on a big expense account who really want to impress their carnivore clients.

                1. re: ilikefood

                  I agree it may not fit the bill, but given the special birthday occasion, the OP mother-in-law's circumstances, the effort she takes in driving all the way to Pasadena, I think it's worth every penny.

              2. What about the Ritz Carlton? Dinners are pricey but supposedly very special--I haven't splurged yet so can't give an account. We've enjoyed lunches there (not the acclaimed chef at lunch, though).

                1 Reply
                1. re: Babette

                  Babette (i like yr ID- I assume fr:the excellent food film- "Babette's Feast") Excuse me for correcting you, but dinner at the Ritz is REALLY pricey, but it is probably the best recommendation for OP in the "money is no object" category. chica makes some good points above to convince OP to take her there. Mothers are very special people, Mothers in laws-sometimes not so much. I hope OP disagrees with second part of that statement in her/his case (and of course you do given the circumstances) and ends up taking MIL somewhere she finds very special.

                2. I dont think its mentioned on here nearly enough, but Cafe Bisou is fantastic. nice ambiance, good and reasonably priced menu, and their famous low-corkage fee (2$?). Its on the corner of Holly and Raymond, and I recommend making reservations, check out their website too!