The Vault in Pasadena
This is the letter I wrote recently to owners of the Vault:
We had a group of 7-9 friends and had a pretty below average experience.
When we arrived, we couldn't the freshly baked bread. We had to repeatedly ask the waitress for bread. Our glasses was not getting filled with water and don't even recall anyone filling it up after the first serving. It is easy to add a gratuity to the bill but it doesn't mean your waiter can be nonchalant about the service. The waitress was missing for most part. But you do have some nice looking tables and chairs.
I could have eaten better food at McDonalds! But you do have a great looking club!
I have been to many restaraunts but never have one charged us for doing the salsa lessons once we eat dinner there! You guys are the first! Kudos to you. You have lost a whole bunch of customers. But you do have a nice valet service
So summing up, pretty bad experience to say the least. But you could always improve...right?
I wonder how long this place will be open? I should have been worried when we called on a Saturday night and could get a table in any time slot we wanted. We went and the place was empty at 8:00pm on a Saturday night.
They pumped a lot of money into the renovation and it does look great. A very urban feel with lots of steel and great looking bar.
I felt the service really tried, but were young and untrained. They were not sure of the menu and had problems with the flow of the service.
The food was bad. I had a filet that almost raw (I ordered medium), it was was like a piece of raw meat. Everything had some green dried flakes poured on it for garnish - not sprinkled - poured.
I felt bad, someone has spent a lot of money to get this place up and running, hired a full staff and then just fell flat on their face with the most important item - the food! I bet by Christmas 2008 this place will be Pasadena history!
I've been twice. I think it's better for lunch food, I would never order "real" entrees like steak. Their french fries were really good, sandwiches and salads decent, appetizers ok. There sure are a lot of TVs in there.
But even now, more than a year later, the general atmosphere is still of a new place working out the kinks.
I went with some friends for dinner last night and was utterly unimpressed.
The place feels like it can't decide whether it wants to be a sports bar, restaurant or nightclub. While it does have a decent winelist, the food we had was almost uniformly mediocre to terrible.
We ordered an appetizer platter: chicken strips, buffalo wings, and calamari. The calamari was excellent, but the strips and wings merely passable. The wings were tough and looked like they'd been rolled in Frank's Hot moments before serving. My friends chose turkey clubs which they said were "okay." My New York strip arrived cooked to order (rare) but had an unpleasant gamey smell and sinewy texture. I ate a quarter of it and took the rest home in a literal doggy bag.
The menu features a gimmicky 48 oz martini. A couple friends tried the 48oz for $24. While it looked cool in a burbling lava, dry ice sorta way, along with our Long Island Ice Teas, it had no discernible alcohol. My cappuccino was decent.
When the waitstaff asked if everything was alright, we pointed out the crappy drinks and horrid steak to no reaction. I even said, "I'll be taking the steak home for the dog." Nothing.
I'm still laughing at how they put in all those "flame" burners a la Las Vegas on all the posts all the way around, and then apparently decided the fuel cost was too high after turning them on for maybe a month or two.
I've thought maybe if they sent a 2 for 1 I'd try it, I'm still waiting for a positive recommendation from a friend or the web. They never look that busy, and they sure have a lot of TVs!
I also wanted to like it. Went to watch an SC game last year and the first part was great, sat at the bar, food was fine, lots of TV's, staff was really friendly. Then, about halftime, they turned the sound down so far on all the TV's we could barely hear it. We asked the bartender what was going on and he kinda rolled his eyes and said "dinner crowd coming in - the owners don't want them to feel like they're in a sports bar"
Seems like they could have planned the space better (perhaps a wall between the dining room and bar?) if that was their plan. Left a bad taste in my mouth - haven't been back
I went once soon after they opened. Sat outside and had a couple of beers and burger. The burger wasn't worth the ten spot it cost, but it wasn't bad either.
The place is strange, half sports bar with all the flat panel screens (even one outside), half upscale lounge with food to cater to that crowd. Maybe they thought they'd get both the guys and the women that way. It was loud inside, both in looks and noise level. I'd go back to have drinks outside and maybe some fried calamari, maybe, but not in any hurry to try it again.
One early review i saw (gayot, maybe?) made it sound like two brothers had two separate ideas of the place, but neither backed down so it's a mish-mash of trendy, Euro-type nightclub wannabe and a traditional sports bar. Sounds absolutely dreadful, if you ask me. I'm not even close to tempted to go in, however very compelled to spout off about it. Hmm...
too many restaurants are too ambitious.
it's way better to do a few things really well than a lot of things not so well. This is pretty common knowledge but restaurants just don't get it.
I wish LA would adopt a more bay area type philosophy of restaurants. Smaller, intimate, real dining experiences.
Been there twice. Trying to like the place. Put big bucks into it, they had to build an underground garage! Upscale sports bar, with DJ on weekend nights. Maybe trying to be too many things. Some dishes were excellent, and others.... hopefully they'll work out their inconsistantcies, and find their niche.
re: mc michael
We stuck our noses in the week it opened (last summer/fall, IIRC) - very loud with all of the TVs (some were muted, some weren't, there was also some background music playing - like someone'd forgotten to turn off the radio), definite "trendy" attitude, not impressed with the food offerings.
Their website (http://www.thevaultpasadena.com/index...) touts how "Discriminating connoisseurs will savor The Vault’s ever-changing menu of tempting seasonal offerings and all-time favorites." but a glance at the menu shows basic sports bar-type food (wings, ribs, pizzas, pastas, etc.)
There's a big contrast between the description of the atmosphere and what we experienced (we ended-up leaving without eating, not impressed with the sound or the service). However, things may well have changed since then.