Impressive Pasadena Dining - the Raymond vs The Ritz
I'm taking an out of town guest to dinner on his first trip to Pasadena this weekend. I've heard great things about dining at both The Raymond as well as the Ritz, and would love a reccomendation on which to try. We'll be dining on Saturday night.
I am aware that it is too late, but here's my comment:
Visited the Ritz, now known as the Langham, last week.
You can't tell the difference except for the name at the entrance. Everything is unchanged, including the very polite staff and the paintings.
The room is the same. The waiters are the same. The chef is the same. The Manager is different - he introduced himself and stated that, in fact, he was the only difference.
This is a very grown up room. Quiet and elegant, with several booths in which you can sit next to, instead of across from, your dining partner. Service is of the "anything you want is yours" variety. Have the chef come out and ask what you like and he will keep the courses coming for as long as you want - 9 or so is usual. Of course it will run you $150.
Wines are extremely overpriced, but the ever accomodating waiters will pour you tastes of the by the glass selections (also overpriced) for free.
Food is curiously unsatisfying. Small elegantly prepared dishes. Veal tenderloin is two half inch thick medallions at opposite ends of the plate with a lot of nice mushrooms, including some porcinis between them. Fish preparations are fine but not memorable.
Lots of extras, with amuses, cookies, and additional dessert nibbles thrown in.
Bring a lot of time, even more money, and choose the wines very carefully, and you will have one of Pasadena's nicer evenings. Unless you are going for the food, itself, in which case try Akira or Maddeleine or one of the South Pasadena bistros or even Cafe Beaujolais in Eagle Rock.
The Raymond is a formerly romantic place with nothing going for it at the moment. Don't even put it on the same list.
I heard the Ritz Pasadena was sold last year??? I haven't had a chance to eat at the Ritz Pasadena but my sister did mention it was very nice in a beautiful "hotel" setting. I've hosted a luncheon at The Raymond - it's intimate and cozy, a renovated Arts & Crafts style house with a charming patio in the front and back although it was hard to find...I kept on driving past the restaurant. the food was very tasty - we had the set lunch menu and their bread pudding is delish. I think both are good choices - but the setting is completely different.