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Cafe 140 South (Pasadena) - Review

The Oracle Apr 22, 2011 10:32 AM

I was in search for a casual dinner last night. Our destination was Green Street Restaurant, but upon walking inside, it distinctly smelled like urine. I don't know what they are shampoo'ing their carpet with, but it was so unappetizing, we headed out the door.

That led us to Cafe 140 South - the old Crocodile Cafe and now one of the Smith Brother's restaurants. While I was never a fan of the former cafe, we decided to give it a try. It was a first visit for all.

Decor doesn't seem to have changed much since the Crocodile days - although, it's more subdued and some artwork appears to be different. Tables/chairs seemed to be the same.

Waitstaff and service was EXCELLENT. Much what you'd expect from the Smith Brother's. Other than that, can't say I have much to rave about. Warm bread was brought out in the beginning (continuing the Crocodile tradition).

Overall: food was adequate:
-fish special (ono in a tomato sauce): reportedly too much oil/salt in the dish
-burgers: meat was dry and listless - accompanying sauce was a nice touch
-steak sandwich: was raved about, but I didn't try

Service was very accommodating and flexible with food substitutions (veggies instead of potatoes/fries, etc) and everything we ordered came out as requested.

For the price point (most mains about $18-25, burgers/sandwiches: $11-16), I think the quality next door at Smitty's is FAR superior in terms of food. I was expecting the same caliber at Cafe 140 South - but it did not deliver. Price point was reasonable: 1 main, 2 burgers, 1 sandwich, 2 sodas, 1 glass of wine = $89 + tip.

I left disappointed and knowing I made the wrong choice of Smith Brother's Restaurants, for sure. We were dressed pretty casually, which is why I picked Cafe 140 South. But, next time on South Lake: Smitty's, for sure.

Green Street Restaurant
146 S Shopper's Lane, Pasadena, CA 91101

  1. cant talk...eating Apr 22, 2011 07:31 PM

    Funny, we just returned there (under similar circumstances) a few weeks ago and had a very similar impression - really lackluster, almost corporate-style food. Like a good Marriott, but still. The desserts were also of that "death by chocolate" school. I guess they've updated Crocodile to the '90s??

    Haven't heard the greatest things about Smitty's, so don't be too hard on yourself - maybe Celestino? I dunno - I want to find a great dinner place on South Lake, but they don't make it easy.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cant talk...eating
      Jack Flash Apr 23, 2011 12:19 AM

      Smitty's is solidly reliable. If you like Houston's, you'd probably like Smitty's as they're quite similar.

      There's a new restaurant coming to South Lake (Trattoria Neapolis), in the space that was the Dickson-Podley real estate office. I know this only because I saw the alcohol CUP hearing notice in the window the other day. Sounds like Southern Italian cuisine. One can only hope for the best.

      1. re: cant talk...eating
        mc michael Apr 23, 2011 08:59 AM

        I think Smitty's is hit and miss. The steaks aren't that good. Green Street's are probably better or as good. Celestino is good. If you really want casual, you might try The Counter next to Green Street.

        Smitty's Grill
        110 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101

        Green Street Restaurant
        146 S Shopper's Lane, Pasadena, CA 91101

        Celestino Restaurant
        141 S Lake Ave Ste 102, Pasadena, CA 91101

        The Counter
        140 Shoppers Ln, Pasadena, CA 91101

      2. j
        Jack Flash Apr 22, 2011 11:39 AM

        FYI, Crocodile was also Smith Bros., but it was a concept that dated back to the 1980s.

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