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m
mendogurl Aug 12, 2009 07:35 AM

Why is the food here so lukewarm. I have lived here for twenty years and all but given up.
Except for the insanely wonderful chinese food of the greater San Gabriel valley, and some really great mexican, it's a wasteland. There's Europane, Pie and Burger, Foxes, and some other good burger, funky places, but for cutting edge, new dining I just have never found it.
Has anyone else?

  1. Kitchen Queen Aug 16, 2009 01:28 PM

    If I might kick in a comment - never mind a good food shop, which could be had in so many other villages - what about parking in Pasadena, ESP Old Town. I think I've paid enough in parking tickets over the last years to support the salaries of two deputies!! (not really but, a fraction anyway).

    I've enjoyed being in Pasadea and usually find some yummy thing but, my recent visit to City Hall just about killed me -39.50$ - for an expired meter of about 5 minutes!!! Thank goodness I discovered that it was someone elses ticket under my wiper!!!
    I feel that Pasadena doesn't even want "outsiders" patronizing. Between the deputies keeping a watchful eye on meters or looking for those w/o the monthly parking passes, my only reason to go would be to see my friend (where I can park for free in front of his building) or stop at Europane on the way out east. Too bad!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Kitchen Queen
      j
      Jack Flash Aug 16, 2009 01:40 PM

      I don't know why you'd risk the parking meters when you can park in any number of parking structures, 90 minutes for free, and maxing out at a lot less than a parking ticket. I can understand getting a ticket once, but if it happens more often, you're just behaving foolishly. And they don't know from "outsiders" when they come upon an expired meter.

    2. Will Owen Aug 16, 2009 12:17 PM

      After reading comments for the past year or two about how tired and dreary things had become at Maison Akira, we were taken there last night for Maman's 80-something b'day and it was far from tired, or dreary. The food practically vibrated off the menu, the place was buzzing (though not too loudly), the service crisp, funny and smart, and they could have fed us peanut butter sandwiches and made us like it. As it was, there was not a misstep or wrong note in any of it, except that I really should have skipped dessert! Mrs. O and I both got the ribeye; at Papa's insistence I had the escargot to start and he was right, they ARE superb. Pops had the duck, Birthday Girl broke ranks and got the bento box and adored everything, especially the caviar with a touch of wasabi. Bro-in-law went for the prix-fixe "Tour de France", the version with lamb, and relished it, while his wife I believe (couldn't see well and she doesn't speak English) also had the steak. We could have been much more adventurous, with many seafood options on offer, but we just went for what we felt like eating at the time. Do not remember the wine label but it was a Côtes du Rhone that was bright and lively, a delicious food wine. Maman went for the fancy dessert, the ice cream in a tuile basket with the golden caramel wire dome over it, Mrs. O had crème brulée duo, I went silly and had both an espresso and raspberry sorbet, which damn near killed me but nicely. The rest is all kinda hazy. Anyway, the only thing keeping us from being regulars here is the tariff; I know $70 or so per person (with wine) is considered Moderate in some circles but it's beyond our means more than maybe once a year. And since the elders have taken a serious shine to it, as long as Maman keeps having birthdays that's how frequently we'll come!

      14 Replies
      1. re: Will Owen
        peppermonkey Aug 17, 2009 11:46 AM

        there's no need to go to maison akira when you can go to shiro

        1. re: peppermonkey
          m
          mc michael Aug 17, 2009 12:45 PM

          Hmmm. Well, Shiro himself is rarely there (I think Thursday nights only).

          1. re: mc michael
            ipsedixit Aug 17, 2009 03:00 PM

            Sometimes I think the problem with Maison Akira is that Akira *is* always there. The menu needs an update in the worst of ways.

            1. re: ipsedixit
              Will Owen Aug 17, 2009 05:42 PM

              I can't imagine getting bored with anything I've had there. To me that's like saying that "I, Claudius" is old and needs to be rewritten, or the St. Matthew Passion. Go find something new if you want something new, but don't call it tired just because you're tired of it.

              1. re: Will Owen
                ipsedixit Aug 17, 2009 11:18 PM

                Most of the sides that accompany the entrees are generally the same -- sauteed vegetables slathered in a thick sheen of butter. Seems like everything comes with "seasonal vegetables" or "Provencal vegegtables"

                The sushi/sashimi in the bento boxes are generally not very fresh, nor inventive. I could get more interesting stuff at any regular sushi joint for about 2/3 of the price.

                The sad thing is, you feel like Akira is capable of so much more, but he's become lazy and has shifted to auto-pilot.

                1. re: ipsedixit
                  Will Owen Aug 18, 2009 10:13 AM

                  "Most of the sides that accompany the entrees are generally the same -- sauteed vegetables slathered in a thick sheen of butter." This is a problem? Said vegetables are in fact seasonal, and perfectly chosen and cooked, perfectly firm and perfectly tender - how do they do that? Though I wouldn't mind a "thick sheen" of butter, these had just a very subtle touch. My only objection was that there weren't enough of them; I could have had just a plate of them as my entrée, like the plate of haricots verts I got at Chez Julien 18 years ago and still dream about.

          2. re: peppermonkey
            Will Owen Aug 17, 2009 05:43 PM

            Shiro does French?

            1. re: Will Owen
              m
              mc michael Aug 17, 2009 07:07 PM

              Shiro started in California at Benihana. He soon moved to Ma Maison. Later he was chef at Cafe Jacoulet in Pas. Then he opened up Shiro which is Franco-Japanese with an emphasis on seafood. Now he has a small plates place on Sawtelle, Orris. He retains a French influence throughout.

              1. re: mc michael
                g
                gdtobme Aug 17, 2009 08:21 PM

                After 20 plus years of dining at Shiro's, I still love their whole deep-fried catfish.

                1. re: mc michael
                  peppermonkey Aug 18, 2009 09:50 AM

                  I thought he was with wolfgang puck at chinois or spago?

                  1. re: peppermonkey
                    ipsedixit Aug 18, 2009 09:56 AM

                    No, it was Ma Maison as mc michael notes above.

                    Read his bio here: http://restaurantshiro.com/shiro.html

                  2. re: mc michael
                    Will Owen Aug 18, 2009 10:29 AM

                    Cafe Jacoulet! We went there on my very first visit to Pasadena and fell in love with it; we'd already eaten somewhere else, so we just had drinks and dessert. We adored the place, lusted over the menu and vowed to eat there the next time we were in town, but when that time came Cafe Jacoulet was gone.

                    Just took a look at Shiro's website. The prices are apparently as much on the upper edge of our comfort level as Akira's, and while the food is I am sure excellent it's only kinda French... which is fine for us, but not what the parents would be looking for. I do think however that Mrs. O and I would enjoy it very much. The Bistro Nights look like an excellent and relatively affordable way to get acquainted.

                    1. re: Will Owen
                      peppermonkey Aug 18, 2009 04:38 PM

                      Thurs is probably best when he's there. The catfish is a must try. Love the foie with poached pear. But the best dish i had there was a special. Curry infused fried oysters with a champagne something sauce topped with salmon roe.

                      1. re: peppermonkey
                        m
                        mendogurl Aug 18, 2009 10:46 PM

                        Funny, we have gone to Shiro's three times over the years because everyone raves about it. We keep figuring we've been on an off night, or we're just not getting something about it. The last time I ate there it was almost inedible.

            2. m
              mc michael Aug 16, 2009 10:18 AM

              I don't think "lukewarm" is accurate. And do you really want to pay Urusawa prices? That said, I had a very enjoyable, if expensive meal at Bistro 45 last night. Nothing cutting edge, just a good salad and some very good swordfish. Accompanied by some good wine by the glass. Not cheap but well worth it. I missed the owner, Robert Simon, although I understand he will be in the house today (having arrived from AKA in the Napa area). Check it out.

              10 Replies
              1. re: mc michael
                m
                mendogurl Aug 16, 2009 10:54 PM

                No, I don't want high prices and I find the Gourmet temples somewhat tedious.
                But we ate at Canelle the other night. It wasn't over the top. Food was simple, fresh and well prepared. Not the BEST, BEST, BEST meal I have ever eaten, but really satisfying, and a really nice evening. I just don't believe something like that is impossible here. But I could be wrong.

                1. re: mendogurl
                  m
                  mc michael Aug 17, 2009 07:07 AM

                  It's not impossible here. Check Bistro 45. See Will's review of Maison Akira. Keep an eye on the specials at Roy's and Ruth's Chris. Try Smitty's. La Grande Orange has been getting good mentions. Check it out.

                  1. re: mc michael
                    m
                    mendogurl Aug 17, 2009 09:02 AM

                    We were huge fans of Monte's on Fair Oaks and were devastated when they closed. Old school bar, great senior, salty waitresses and racetrack crowd. LIKKER lemon chicken.
                    In desperation, the other night we went to Ruth's Chris, and were PLEASANTLY surprised. Overlooking the corporate decor , the steak was excellent, the waitress pleasant and professional, and the cocktails well done.
                    We'll go back. Course we hear they are in trouble, so it may not be long...

                    1. re: mendogurl
                      m
                      mc michael Aug 17, 2009 11:20 AM

                      Hope that's not a serious problem at RC. You are so right about that decor. WTF? It's eerie how the Monty's space just stays there unused.

                2. re: mc michael
                  lil mikey Aug 17, 2009 07:36 PM

                  mc michael, it's good to see you posting again. I remember the old days when you changed your handle to conform to Chowhound standards. I had to do the same thing.

                  Regarding Pasadana, I like Tonny's on Orange Grove and Lake. Everything I've had there is good, but my favorite is the chile verde.

                  Across Lake is another Mexican place on the north side of Orange Grove. Not the chicken place, but the place in the main building. I got 3 tacos: carne asada, carnitas and al pastor. By a long shot, the al pastor taco was the best. The other tacos were fine, and better than you can find at many other places, but the al pastor taco was outsanding imho.

                  1. re: lil mikey
                    Phurstluv Aug 17, 2009 07:39 PM

                    What's Tonny's?

                    And are you referring to Mijares??

                    1. re: Phurstluv
                      lil mikey Aug 17, 2009 08:41 PM

                      Tonny's is a little place (maybe 10 tables inside, and 2 or 3 outside) on Orange Grove, just west of Lake. I've been going to meetings on Altadena Drive, and needed a place beforehand for lunch, and then breakfast. I noticed this place, and luckily stopped in. The food is great, and the service has always been outstanding.

                      Regarding the place across Lake, I've ony been there once and I can't remember the name. I'm sorry. I'll pay closer attention next time and post it.

                      1. re: lil mikey
                        Peripatetic Aug 18, 2009 12:34 AM

                        Pueblas Tacos?

                        1. re: Peripatetic
                          lil mikey Aug 18, 2009 08:26 AM

                          Yeah. I think it might be Pueblas Tacos.

                    2. re: lil mikey
                      m
                      mc michael Aug 18, 2009 05:58 AM

                      Ah, but I was so much older then....
                      Gonna have to check this Tonny's, saw it just the other day.

                  2. c
                    cookcarson Aug 14, 2009 09:24 PM

                    If you're willing to drive to Arcadia, Zelo Pizza is one of the best restaurants I've ever been to. You seem to have similar taste in food, and in fact, many of the people who work at EuroPane also work at Zelo. The best is the corn pizza with carmelized onions. It's great.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cookcarson
                      m
                      mendogurl Aug 15, 2009 01:56 PM

                      I've heard of that place. So glad to hear it's good. WE go to Arcadia a lot for Chinese.
                      Good to have an alternative to Casa Bianca, but it will be hard to get my family to consider anything else !

                    2. A5 KOBE Aug 13, 2009 01:34 AM

                      Tommy Tang had a restaurant in Pasadena and it went under within two years. Not a very good success rate in Pasadena. When I think of Pasadena, I think of a lunch city.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: A5 KOBE
                        Will Owen Aug 14, 2009 10:34 AM

                        That's because no restaurant stays open late enough for those of us who want to eat after a play or movie, or just aren't ready before 9:00 or so. My one big beef about SoCal, at least the LA County part, is how scarce late-night options are, especially compared to that little "hick town" of Nashville. One of the most popular midscale Nashville places we used to frequent has a very good late-night menu that kicks in at 10:30 EVERY NIGHT OF THE WEEK. That's at least half an hour after pretty much any Pasadena restaurant has already closed, and many of those close their kitchens even earlier. Astounding.

                        1. re: Will Owen
                          ipsedixit Aug 14, 2009 01:56 PM

                          Well, I don't think that's necessarily true.

                          Vertical, Red White and Bluezz, LGO, Tonny's, and Magnolia are all open past midnight on weekends and Fridays, and I believe Malbec is open until 11 p.m.

                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            Will Owen Aug 14, 2009 02:05 PM

                            We understood that Tonny's was forced to start closing at 10:00 a long time ago, as there's some kind of North Lake 10 o'clock curfew. I'm glad to hear about LGO, though I'm more in love with the space than the food. And I wonder if Central Park has extended their hours... our first time there, we'd just gotten our food at 9:00, seated by the front window, when the manager walked up and turned off the window sign. "Closing already?" we asked. He gave us an odd look and said, "Well, sure - it's nine o'clock!" as though that made perfect sense.

                            1. re: Will Owen
                              c
                              condiment Aug 14, 2009 06:40 PM

                              The Tonny's curfew was bizarre, especially considering the 7-Eleven and the 24 hour burrito joint across the street. I don't think it was the juice bar that was causing the turmoil.

                              It is always dismaying to hit the point in the evening when the choices are narrowed to the Yellow Truck and Conrad's. LGO, Magnolia and Vertical are technically open late but are usually dead after 10.

                              1. re: condiment
                                Will Owen Aug 14, 2009 09:01 PM

                                That burrito joint could not be operating 24 hrs. As much as I hate to say it, it was my fellow Bungalow Heaven neighbors who put the kibosh on Tonny's, expressing the thought that by doing so they were preventing "undesirable elements" from walking abroad "late at night" - i.e. after they'd gone to bed at 9:00 or so.

                                This is just a stupidly dead town after 10, when truly happenin' towns are just coming alive. I do not begin to understand it...

                                1. re: Will Owen
                                  c
                                  condiment Aug 15, 2009 06:17 AM

                                  Bungalow Heaven is pretty NIMBYish - but weird that they could have influence on the hours of a restaurant at least a couple hundred yards from anywhere in the zone. There are a lot of halfway houses in the immediate area, and Tonny's must have somehow taken the heat for that.

                                  I thought Puebla Tacos was 24 hours - I've certainly been there after 2 a.m. - but I'll defer to your proximity.

                                  1. re: condiment
                                    Will Owen Aug 15, 2009 05:49 PM

                                    North Lake Development District, not just Bungalow Heaven. NIMBYs on BOTH sides of Lake are getting into it. First, trying to get all the fast-food joints and car repair shops out, then passing ordinances against eating places being open after the "ungodly" hour of TEN (!!!). Tonny's opened as a 24-hour place, assuming (rightly) that there'd be a lively market for that, and (wrongly) that all they had to do was post the hours and stay open. Never occurred to them they'd have to ask permission! I'm an active Bungalow Heaven guy, but I was seriously PO'd, and still am...

                            2. re: ipsedixit
                              m
                              mc michael Aug 15, 2009 06:47 AM

                              What means this LGO? Whither? I find the food at Magnolia variable, but I will say the salads are dependable. Is Bistro 45 any good anymore?

                              1. re: mc michael
                                m
                                mendogurl Aug 15, 2009 01:50 PM

                                Last time I was their it was really, really bad. That was while back.

                            3. re: Will Owen
                              i
                              Ideefixed Aug 15, 2009 09:19 AM

                              One reason is that film and TV have early calls. When show biz was the dominant force, people had to be at the studio, or on set, very early. Nashville's more of a performance place than Los Angeles.

                              1. re: Ideefixed
                                m
                                mendogurl Aug 15, 2009 01:54 PM

                                That was a great thing about being in the film business and living in Pasadena.
                                No one else did, LOL.
                                That meant that driving into the studios for those insanely early calls was always a piece of cake. NO traffic. I could be at Universal in 15 minutes, Sony in 30.

                              2. re: Will Owen
                                m
                                mendogurl Aug 15, 2009 01:40 PM

                                That is a problem up and down the west coast. Soooo many restaurants close around 10-11.

                            4. c
                              carter Aug 12, 2009 06:49 PM

                              The Smith Bros. win the high end award, largely by default, as no one else is trying to do it. Parkway Grill and Arroyo Chop House are very busy, every night of the week, even in this economy. So, they are satisfying one segment of the marketplace.
                              Since nearly every restaurant in old town is for sale, or should be, it points out that not enough people like the food being offered at the price points being asked.
                              Rents are but one issue. But nowhere on the east side of I-5 is doing really well - some individual places, yes, but as to an area, NO.
                              That will not change until the economy does, and we have no crystal ball to discuss that issue on this thread.
                              Even with cheap rent, the 626 area code Chinese restaurants are dying one after another, so even less expensive rent is not necessarily the answer. People are just not going out to eat as often as they used to, so fewer dollars spread among more places equals a BIG problem.
                              And with Gary Menes having already left Palate in Glendale, that place needs to inject a big name, and sooner is better.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: carter
                                m
                                mendogurl Aug 13, 2009 11:27 PM

                                well said carter.
                                I am always astonished at how many people go to Parkway Grill and the Chop House.
                                Interesting to hear everything is up for sale.bland.

                                Like I said maybe the economy will level Old Town and put it out of it's neverending misery.

                                1. re: mendogurl
                                  c
                                  condiment Aug 14, 2009 06:34 PM

                                  If the economy truly tanks, it will make Old Town even more corporate. It's not Buca di Beppo and the Cheesecake Factory that are shutting down, it's the even modestly quirky places, like Siena, Maschera, Kuala Lumpur or Huasteca. Old Town is a toxic environment for restaurants.

                                  Not even Joachim Splichal could make it in Pasadena, not even Jerry's Deli, and those guys are the kudzu of the restaurant world.

                                  1. re: mendogurl
                                    i
                                    Ideefixed Aug 15, 2009 09:18 AM

                                    While I'm not a fan of the chains in Old Town, I lived there when it was largely pawn shops and empty storefronts. Even though I think the development hasn't been as careful as it might have been, I'd rather see businesses and commerce succeed than go backwards.

                                    Same with the area around Vromans and the Laemmele. If you don't know what this area was like, 10 or 15 years ago, you might not be quite so dismissive.

                                    1. re: Ideefixed
                                      m
                                      mendogurl Aug 15, 2009 01:49 PM

                                      I've lived in Pasadena for more than 20 years. I liked it better before.
                                      There were a lot of artists that were able to get cheap studio spaces, and I kind of like pawn shops. I will be really sorry when I see the one on Colorado and Fair Oaks go down. I don't know how they manage.
                                      Once "Old Town" was put in for the 3rd street promenade crowd, every local I know steered as clear as they possible could. I make an occasional stealth mission to Sur La Table at 9:58 on a Tuesday morning, but otherwise I avoid Old Town like the plague. It's easier to shop online. That's the problem when you cater an area to an out of town crowd. Eventually they go home, and the locals have been staying away for years. Except the 15 year olds, of course.

                                2. j
                                  Jack Flash Aug 12, 2009 02:00 PM

                                  While not exactly "cutting edge," Cafe Verde and Malbec, both on Green Street, offer good, affordable food in comfortable yet sufficiently modern settings.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Jack Flash
                                    m
                                    mendogurl Aug 12, 2009 03:08 PM

                                    I thought i'd heard good things about Cafe Verde. I want to try that.

                                    Look, I am a huge fan of Pie and Burger, Ricks, Foxes, and the eating dream that is Alhambra, Monterey Park and San Gabriel.
                                    I probably should have said innovative, or passionate instead of "cutting edge". That description is too loaded.

                                  2. ipsedixit Aug 12, 2009 09:06 AM

                                    You might want to check out what Voltaggio is doing at The Dining Room (@ the Langham Hotel)

                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/641717

                                    25 Replies
                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                      m
                                      mendogurl Aug 12, 2009 11:38 AM

                                      I have been there and it's great. It's a beautiful, formal setting.
                                      I guess I am just ranting my frustration, where are the kind of restaurants of Culver City or Beverly? Pasadena has started catching up in other areas, the population is definitely getting younger and hipper, but the food is generally so old school.
                                      The hip chefs are willing to set up chef in Eagle Rock but not ten minutes to the east in Pasadena. Maybe it's the cost of rent.

                                      1. re: mendogurl
                                        a
                                        andytseng Aug 12, 2009 11:56 AM

                                        I feel like it's a combination of a lot of things (as things usually are). The crowd is older, rent is more expensive, but also, the cities you mentioned are surrounded geographically by a younger and more affluent crowd. Culver City is close enough to WeHo and the westside; Eagle Rock is closer to downtown, Silverlake, and Glendale; whereas, Pasadena is next to South Pasadena and San Marino (stuffy white folks), Altadena, and SGV (cheap asians).

                                        It's hard to see Pasadena turning into a food destination anytime in the near future.

                                        1. re: andytseng
                                          m
                                          mendogurl Aug 12, 2009 01:53 PM

                                          I have to say that Pasadena, and definitely south Pasadena has been rapidly populating with other than stuffy white folks for a really long time. People priced out of the west side who could find fab craftsman's on enormous lots for a quarter of the price. I see the young hipsters in the neighborhoods, at the farmers market.
                                          But they have no where to eat, unless they drive 15 minutes downtown. If I were a chef looking for a hungry market, I'd set up shop here.
                                          Throw a rock here in Altadena, and you will hit a writer or artist (like myself and my husband). Lots of film folks have moved out here over the last ten years.
                                          No shortage of money that I can see, way more affluent than Silver Lake or Eaglerock, Glendale.

                                          Oh well, I will continue to cook at home.

                                          1. re: mendogurl
                                            ipsedixit Aug 12, 2009 02:45 PM

                                            Well in the surrounding areas like Glendale, Silverlake, Eagle Rock, etc., there certainly are some places making a culinary mark -- e.g., Three Drunken Goats, Bashan, Palate, Domenico, Barbrix and Reservoir, just to name a few.

                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                              m
                                              mendogurl Aug 12, 2009 02:51 PM

                                              Absolutely. Much, much, much better food just 15 minutes west or south.

                                              Glendale is a very interesting example. Not exactly the last bastion of cool. There have been quite a few good restaurants to open there recently.
                                              Pasadena...nothing. I would have to argue that the population of Pasadena is definitely more affluent and hipper than Glendale.
                                              Obviously those are enormous generalizations I am making.

                                              1. re: mendogurl
                                                ipsedixit Aug 12, 2009 02:54 PM

                                                I think alot of it has to do with the rents in Old Town and the surrounding environs (e.g. Lake Ave), including the Mission St. area in South Pas.

                                                The rents are really too high to attract innovative new chefs and there really aren't other locales in the city that are viable for commercial restaurants. I think the rents in places like Glendale are more diverse and reasonable. Just a guess, on my part, however.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                  PurpleTeeth Aug 12, 2009 03:17 PM

                                                  I think you hit the nail on the head ipsedixit

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                    m
                                                    mendogurl Aug 12, 2009 03:26 PM

                                                    I think that's got to be it. (the rents) It's really a shame.
                                                    One can only hope that a strange beneficial aspect of the bad economy is that the corporate giant restaurants aren't doing so well. Maybe Old Town
                                                    will change back to an area that those of who live here, can enjoy.

                                                    1. re: mendogurl
                                                      ipsedixit Aug 12, 2009 03:44 PM

                                                      By the way, mendogurl, have you tried Restaurant 561?

                                                      When they are on, it can be quite a treat ... when they are not on, well, then you realize they're only students.

                                                      www.561restaurant.com

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                                        m
                                                        mendogurl Aug 12, 2009 04:06 PM

                                                        I did try it. It was an off night, but I am game to go again. I love the idea.

                                              2. re: mendogurl
                                                i
                                                Ideefixed Aug 15, 2009 09:13 AM

                                                More money, but also kids in school, more debt, etc. And as film production has moved out of California, people don't have as much disposable income. When the Smiths started Parkway Grill (with Spago vets working there), there was NO place to eat in Pasadena.
                                                But Pasadena and South Pas. types are pretty cheap--they'd rather eat at home or drive downtown.

                                                1. re: mendogurl
                                                  c
                                                  condiment Aug 15, 2009 05:37 PM

                                                  BTW, the ``other than stuffy white folks'' have some pretty good places, c.f. Tonny's, El Taquito Mexicano, Roscoes, Lebanese Kitchen, La Caravana, the late Hawkins Burger, etc. What there isn't is hipster restaurants like Canele or Auntie Em's. This is generally okay with me - Silver Lake may have a lot of restaurants, but none of them are good.

                                                  1. re: condiment
                                                    r
                                                    revets2 Aug 17, 2009 11:41 AM

                                                    "Silver Lake may have a lot of restaurants, but none of them are good."

                                                    have you been to VIET NOODLE or BAR BRIX?

                                                    1. re: revets2
                                                      c
                                                      condiment Aug 18, 2009 04:15 PM

                                                      Indeed I have. At the moment in Silver Lake, probably only La Mill has the chops to thrive in a more challenging neighborhood. The dining scene in Silver Lake reminds me a lot of the one in Cobble Hill. Pasadena, unfortunately, is at this point closer to Connecticut.

                                                2. re: andytseng
                                                  Will Owen Aug 12, 2009 01:53 PM

                                                  If by "food destination" you mean $100+ per-plate trendy joints, I certainly hope not. More than enough of those elsewhere, and they can stay there. I wouldn't mind paying more if that meant the staff all made a living wage, and I'm not knocking the Fine Dining category as such. Culver City is the one example cited that I wish we could emulate here, brilliant food that normal people can afford, but as you point out the Pasadena demographic will support no more than one or two such efforts, and they'll have to be really good and smart ones. What I object to is the definition of "good" as "formal". Mendogirl dismisses Daisy Mint as "a good lunch place"; I consider it above all a dinner place. It's friendly and the food we've had was excellent, and not expensive. I'd like a larger room, but so I think would the proprietors! I didn't walk in suddenly wishing I'd worn a tie, nor were patrons conversing in murmurs, but it wasn't the collegiate beer-bust that Cafe Beaujolais seems to have become. Madeleine's is another place we need to investigate further; several friends are passionate about it, and we enjoyed our several drinks in the bar, especially the two female bartenders engaging in intelligent conversation with patrons instead of the usual coarse banter.

                                                  1. re: Will Owen
                                                    m
                                                    mendogurl Aug 12, 2009 03:05 PM

                                                    Sorry, I didn't mean to dismiss Daisy Mint, I think it is a great place and I was really glad when it opened. I was refering more to Little Flower, a favorite, as a "lunch place". I am definitely not talking about super expensive places. I am talking more about easy, relaxed, casual places that serve really good, fresh, local, maybe even innovative, or at least somewhat passionately prepared food.
                                                    Maybe the economy will chase away all of the corporate spots in "Old Town", and make some room for some new blood.

                                                    I have heard mention of Madeline's. Where is it?

                                                    1. re: mendogurl
                                                      Will Owen Aug 12, 2009 04:30 PM

                                                      On Green St., I'm pretty sure between Catalina and Wilson, south side of the street. There's just a tiny little sign, and an iron garden gate with no "Entrance" sign on it, but you go through that, turn left, and hope there's someone at the hostess station. There are several dining rooms, and the wine bar is a tiny room back to the right. It has its own menu. We joined some fellow volunteers there after our big Humane Society fundraiser a couple of months ago, and wound up staying after they left because it was such a pleasant place to be, and agreed that when we had money to spend on something fancier than Amigo's (don't go there!) we'd try it more thoroughly. We had already eaten, but two friends that had come with us had some food and pronounced it very good.

                                                      The Smith brothers like to think they're doing what you're looking for, and what they've supplied to the above-mentioned fundraiser over the years has been interesting and mostly good, but I have not felt the earth shift in its orbit with any of it. Firefly in South Pas has similar aspirations; don't know, haven't tried them. Mike & Ann's is quality stuff and a nice room, again a little pricier than it deserves to be, but they're paying South Pas rent. I keep hearing about Gale's, and actually met her some time back and she had THAT attitude, both cheerful and intense, that I've observed in my favorite cooks, so maybe...

                                                      1. re: Will Owen
                                                        m
                                                        mendogurl Aug 13, 2009 11:29 PM

                                                        Are you talking about Tre Venizia? Right off of Pasadena?

                                                        Where is Gale's ??

                                                        1. re: mendogurl
                                                          WildSwede Aug 14, 2009 09:17 AM

                                                          Gale's is on Fair Oaks - btwn Del Mar and California. Italian. Very good.
                                                          I have never been to Little Flower. What do you order there... may have to hit it for lunch today.

                                                          1. re: WildSwede
                                                            ipsedixit Aug 14, 2009 09:19 AM

                                                            Gales --> www.galesrestaurant.com

                                                            1. re: WildSwede
                                                              rednyellow Aug 17, 2009 07:54 PM

                                                              I just had a fantastic lunch at Gales. Was my first time. Service was friendly and pro. Food was great. The stand out was the carbonara, was the best I can remember.

                                                            2. re: mendogurl
                                                              c
                                                              condiment Aug 14, 2009 06:25 PM

                                                              Tre Venezie was superb up until a few months ago, when they replaced chefs. It's pretty pedestrian now - and still expensive.

                                                              1. re: condiment
                                                                m
                                                                mendogurl Aug 15, 2009 01:41 PM

                                                                They replaced their chef ?

                                                                I was really sad when they got rid of all of their home made liquers. Those were outstanding.

                                                        2. re: Will Owen
                                                          i
                                                          Ideefixed Aug 15, 2009 09:15 AM

                                                          And if Culver City didn't have the studios to support the lunch businesses, some of those places wouldn't be as successful as they are. People work in Culver City, and might live elsewhere. Pasadena just doesn't have that same type of business crowd.

                                                      2. re: mendogurl
                                                        Phurstluv Aug 16, 2009 06:15 PM

                                                        Hey, be thankful you're not in the dining wasteland of the Palisades. For what you pay for for a house here, you should get a chef with it!!! And there's NO place here I would rec to any chowhound!!! It's disgraceful, and anytime something new opens, it's the same pasta, pizza, salad type of place, it makes me wan to scream!!!!! At least you have chain restaurants to fall back on!!!

                                                    2. PurpleTeeth Aug 12, 2009 07:56 AM

                                                      Daisy Mint
                                                      Little Flower

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: PurpleTeeth
                                                        m
                                                        mendogurl Aug 12, 2009 08:56 AM

                                                        I love little flower and Daisy Mint is good. It is true there are good lunch spots, I love Nicole's.
                                                        But dinner is just not happening, unless we go downtown, Silver Lake or Eagle Rock.

                                                        1. re: mendogurl
                                                          PurpleTeeth Aug 12, 2009 09:56 AM

                                                          True for that high end stuff you do need to travel a bit.

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