Smitty's Grill (Pasadena) - review -- great burger!
Let me start by saying, I've never enjoyed Smitty's in the past. My office used to be right around the corner, and I tried it several times for both lunch and dinner and was never really impressed. Nothing struck me as good, and I've been surprised it's stayed in business for so long.
A friend was craving their prime rib, and so we headed there for dinner. I wasn't terribly hungry, and perused their wine list. I was pleasantly surprised by their offerings - as most were some of my mid-range favorites. I settled on a favorite Zaca Mesa Syrah.
For some reason, my not-so-hungry self zoned in on a burger. Very atypical for me -- but, hey, what the heck (the diet can wait). I ordered the "Smokehouse Burger" (Applewood bacon and cheese)... and I've gotta say - those that have been craving a good burger, should head here. For 10.95 you get a mound of heavenly goodness. Meaty slices of bacon, a very thick portion of meat, the bread is delicious and the cheese melted in perfectly with meat and sliced pickles. I opted not eat it with the tomato and lettuce it was served with (it came open faced, so it was very easy to remove). You can pick any side, but I stuck with the fries that came with it. They were lightly seasoned and VERY good when they first came out of the kitchen, but as I focused on the burger, and returned to them later -- they were cold, hard and pretty stale tasting - which was surprising to me.
I did not try a bite of the prime rib, however tried the mashed potatoes that were with it -- and they were heavenly. They are not heavy - but thin, very creamy and you could taste the butter oozing through the bite.
The room was quite full and the noise level was a bit much (although we were seated near the bar -- but I got the feeling the general noise of the main room is loud). I was there at 5:45pm without reservations and there were only 2 available tables by the bar. The hostess did not set a good tone for me, as she had a bit too much attitude - but I chalked it up to her hating her job and having a bad day. The waitstaff, however, was very professional, pleasant and attentive -- and extremely efficient (clearing plates, refilling glasses).
Would I go back? Not sure -- the noise level was high for my tastes and my diet doesn't allow me to crave a burger THAT much, however, I no longer will avoid Smitty's like the plauge, as I have done in the past - and would recommend it to people in the area. If you are looking for meat and potatoes/comfort food in Pasadena - this would be a good option away from the old town craze. It's part of the Smith Brothers Restaurants (Parkway Grill, Arroyo Chop House, Vibrato) and I would consider it to be a very casual version of ACH.
I hate Smitty's. Food portions are Cheesecake Factory sized. The chicken pot pie I had was worse than anthing that even the Cheesecake Factory could conjur up. Canned chicken, industrial scented, peas looked like they were canned too. Just god awful. my friend had the chili, which I tasted, the only seasoning I could taste was salt, but not quite as much as the half cup of salt in the pot pie. Saw a "slice" of chocolate cake go by, thought it was some sort of waxy chocolate mountain.
The hostess and server were really friendly when I went.
Maybe they are actually good at cooking red meat dishes, but I'm never going back there.
We have lived in Pasadena for almost a decade and after about 15 trips to Smitty's, I have to say we avoid it at all cost. Average food, waaaaay too much attitude from the hostess and the servers, and the prices are not in line with the quality of food. You cannot get a better burger in Pasadena than Houston's. I hate to say it, but it is true....
On a return visit last night (and still thinking about the burger in the above post) I decided to branch out and try a different burger and opted for the Filet Mignon burger - a basic patty with Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese on top. I ordered it medium well (what was I thinking???) and it came out fairly charred and very well done. It was unimpressive, compared to the burger I had before and was on the dry side of the spectrum. Still edible - just not like before. I also learned through this experience that while I like blue cheese - I don't really like it all over my burger... in the end - I wished I opted for that same Smokehouse burger (or the short ribs osso buco style that had been calling my name). Oh well, there's always next time. For sides I asked for 1/2 fries 1/2 mashed potatos - which they gladly accommodated and both were DELISH!
My dining companion had the garlic chicken - which was VERY good - very juicy and tender (served with asapargus and mashed potatoes).
We finished it off with a dessert special - peanut butter cheese cake (creamy, soft inside (almost like a thick mousse) with two layers of a ganache-like chocolate on the top and bottom. Good flavors, but there were large chunks of peanuts in the cake which I didn't like.
We started with the soup of the day (mushroom - VERY good) and a special salad (tomato, buffalo mozzarella and arugla) - very tasty arugla & nice balsamic dressing - and the cheese was good (nothing out of the ordinary or outstanding) - what was disappointing were the tomatoes - they were quite hard in the center... but overall - a decent dish.
Pleasant service (although, our wine took forever to come out - it was being opened shortly after we got our appetizers -- and we had to flag down our server for knives for our mains) - overall another good experience - we sat in one of the square booths next to the ones on the wall and it wasn't difficult to carry on conversation while the place was packed (although, it did get considerably more quiet later in the evening as the place cleared out). (MUCH more pleasant than the table I had previously by the bar)
....my previous distain for Smitty's is definitely history.....
bill was $113 pre tip (that's including a nice bottle of ampelo syrah $48)
I've not eaten there, but they catered the last Artistic License, the biennial fundraiser for the Pasadena Humane Society, and have committed to cater next year's as well. All of their stuff I tasted last time was really good - I even loved the giant corn muffins, which were the antithesis of my idea of good cornbread, being extremely sweet. I'm glad to read a positive review of their in-house food; my own burger consumption falls under restraints similar to The Oracle's, i.e. an occasional treat, and this one sounds like it's worth saving up for. Thank you.