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Sep 15, 2008 12:26 PM

birthday party in Old Town Pasadena?

I'm trying to decide on a restaurant for a birthday party in Old Town Pasadena, something slightly upscale and good for a party of about eight of us. None of us are big drinkers, so maybe something more subdued. Right now we're considering Saladong Song. Any other recommendations?


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  1. I don't mean to hijack your thread, but am hoping you get some answers if I bump this.

    I have the same situation with the exception that I will have to find a place for this Saturday night, so I will need several options since we may not find a place that can seat us at this late notice us. We do like to have drinks and wine. We will be 8 and range in age from 40 to 72. The birthday girl is a foodie as are a couple of others. Our restriction is $50 per person which will have to include most everything, except the wine at dinner which people other than the host will buy. Is this possible to find either a place with really interesting food or a place with super fun atmosphere.

    I'm starting to do some searches here, since I'm not so familar with Pasadena lately, but it takes so long to read everything and I need to get a reservation in so appreciate help. Any suggestions for beckwith (or me for little more fun places?)?

    1 Reply
    1. re: coconutz

      I like Saladang Song but I don't think of it as a place to really relax. Like their other restaurant next door, they get those dishes out bam bam! I really like Smitty's on Lake. The menu is a twist on American classics. The decor is kind of 30's, 40's supper club. Owned by the Smith Brothers, (Crocadile Cafe-not impressive, Parkway Grill and Arroyo Chop House which will both be out of your budget). They always have fresh fish options and great desserts. I typically go for the Prime Rib which is about $24 for the smaller cut and is still a heck of a lot of food. You probably can still make a reservation. They do have a full bar for those that do imbibe. In Old Town proper, I also like Cafe Bizou for being reliable, well priced and attractive. It has it's detractors but I will defend it 'til the death. I'll let others chime in on their favorites now...

    2. For fun with okay food, how about La Luna Negra for tapas and maybe live music?

      1. Shiro or Cafe Verde would both be good choices.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          I used to absolutely love love love Shiro, but have not been in many many many years. I only ever ordered the Lobster ravioli and the catfish with ponzu sauce, though. I could never go often enough to skip those things. I assume the catfish is still there. Is the menu still very small? Can we really do it on our budget?

          That would be pretty special if it is as good as I remember it, from when it first opened.

          1. re: coconutz


            Shiro is still very good. Their menu is online:

            And, yes, I think given your budget ($50/person sans wine) Shiro would be doable.

        2. I adore Vertical Wine in Pasadena. Great atmosphere, incredible food and outstanding service. Their menu is all small plates, so it's ideal for sharing. But it's not Spanish; more French/California fusion. Start with a cheese and charcuterie plate and a few apps (their red onion and corn fritters topped with smoked salmon and creme fraiche is my favorite!) then move onto a selection of mains. I love their skirt steak and duck confit...

          3 Replies
          1. re: Clare K

            This sounds really good, but I am worried it will be awkward with 8 people. I don't know how we would order.

            1. re: coconutz

              Just be aware that most of their wine prices are ridiculously high, for both by the glass and flights.
              I've done small plates sharing with 8 people, just order two or more of the dishes. If everyone is a sharing kind of person, it's fine. :)

              For wine bars in the area, I prefer Red White & Bluezz.

              1. re: slacker

                Red White & Bluezz sounds excellent, but has no openings. I'm scanning opentable and expanding my search areas.

          2. NeoMeze. Mediterranean, very good food, "slightly upscale," could come in at the $50 price pp aside from wine (share some apps/dessert?), adjoining lounge w/ music.

            3 Replies
            1. re: slacker

              I would call NeoMeze american or maybe californian. Its good but foie gras sandwiches and NY Steaks arent terribly greek. Cafe Santorini is a very nice mediterranean place over by Gordon Biersch thats not too pricey and could accomodate a larger party nicely.

              1. re: xxpaulxx

                I used to go to Cafe Santorini often enough and hadn't been in a long time, until a couple of months ago, when I went again for dinner. I really hated the food. It was so pedestrian, and trying to be sold as something higher class than it is. Cheap supermarket ingredients. Overpriced for what it is.
                Neomeze: looks like they changed up the menu a bit since I was there. New American take of global cuisine. Isn't that what LA food mostly is.

                1. re: slacker

                  the only thing nice about cafe santorini is the balcony. the food is not very good. at least what i had was terrible. frozen salmon with some wilted bagged mixed greens and instant rice. their vegetarian appetizer with hummus is ok. I think if drinking isn't a big thing Saladong Song is just fine. As long as you don't go to the more casual Saladong then it should be a nice time. I wouldn't go to Vertical or Red,White and Bluezz if drinking isn't your focus. I like both of those places but wine is a main focus at those places. I do like the food at Vertical tho.