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Cheval Blanc, Roy's, or Parkway Grill?

I'm trying to find a spot for my mom's upcoming b'day. The old standby is Parkway Grill - which mom enjoys, but I feel it's a bit overdone and I think she'd appreciate a change of scene.

Mom loves salmon and chicken, is open to other fish, but is not a red-meat eater.

I'm a little hesitant on Roy's - because when I went to the downtown location, I found everything to be over-sauced.

I'm leaning toward Cheval Blanc, but that's the unknown on my list.

Any thoughts? I'm open to other ideas, if there's a standout. Would want to stay in Pasadena (or east) and keep the price point in the $20-30 range for entrees.

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Parkway Grill
510 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105

Cheval Blanc
41 S De Lacey Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

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  1. I've been to all three, and my vote would be ROY'S, especially if your mom isn't a red meat eater. I've never been to the Downtown or the Pasadena location, but I know someone who has been to both and says the Pasadena location is better than the Downtown location. I highly recommend Roy's Hawaiian Martini, Misoyaki Butterfish, and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. I've also enjoyed their Salmon and their Short Ribs. Honestly, I've always had a wonderful meal at Roy's in Woodland Hills.

    Cheval Blanc is also good, but the food nor the menu are as good as Roy's in my opinion. In fact, my last meal at Cheval Blanc was a bit of a let down. Also keep in mind, Roy's will have a wider selection of fish dishes.

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    Cheval Blanc
    41 S De Lacey Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

    1 Reply
    1. re: brandygirl

      If you go to Costco (at least the one in Los Feliz), you can get 2 $50 gift cards for Roy's for $80.

    2. If your mom enjoys fish, might I suggest Shiro in South Pasadena?

      http://restaurantshiro.com/

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      Shiro Restaurant
      1505 Mission St, South Pasadena, CA 91030

      7 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Better than all of the three suggestions, per poster's parameters.

        1. re: carter

          Shiro website for menu perusal, prices, etc.
          http://restaurantshiro.com/menu.html

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          Shiro Restaurant
          1505 Mission St, South Pasadena, CA 91030

          1. re: carter

            there's that $35 Wednesday night prix fixe.

        2. re: ipsedixit

          Thank you, ispedixit & carter.

          I've lived in Pasadena for decades, and have YET to try Shiro. A visit is long overdue and it's a great suggestion.

          What is the ambiance like in the restaurant? Is it comparable to the others on the list?

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          Shiro Restaurant
          1505 Mission St, South Pasadena, CA 91030

          1. re: The Oracle

            From my recollection (it's been about 2 years now), it's sort of plain...or understated, if you prefer. Reasonably quiet.

            1. re: The Oracle

              Decor is Spartan, or if you prefer, Modern Sparse?

              It's definitely a grown up type of place, din is low to medium, and the general feel is somewhat sedated, but not dead by any means.

              Service, for me, has always been professional and competent.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Sheryl always makes people feel at home.

          2. Personally I like Cheval Blanc better than Roy's. You also might consider AKA An American Bistro http://www.akabistro.com/ . We have had some very solid meals there. I went to Shiro once and thought it was good, but overpriced.

            THz

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            Shiro Restaurant
            1505 Mission St, South Pasadena, CA 91030

            Cheval Blanc
            41 S De Lacey Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

            1 Reply
            1. re: Terahertz

              I liked AKA quite a bit, although it might not be quite the right vibe for mom's b-day (I guess it sort of depends on the mom in question).

            2. I think Roy's is good the first time you go, but over time it does seem over-sauced, overly sweet. Of course, YMMV. They do have a decent happy hour, however (Pasadena location).
              Shiro is better but costs more--although they do have some specials that bear looking into.

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              Shiro Restaurant
              1505 Mission St, South Pasadena, CA 91030

              1. We've been to Cheval Blanc twice. Although the food ranged from quite good to adequate, they committed two errors: on the first visit the bus person grabbed my escargot dish out from under my descending chunk of bread, and ignored my protests. On the second, my much-anticipated lapin à la moutarde was cooked rabbit, probably sous vide, heated up with mustard-cream sauce on it, NOT rabbit long-braised with mustard. That was just being quick and cheap, tantamount to serving bagged salad, but running off with my escargot butter (the whole point of ordering them, for me) is unforgivable. The Smiths can keep their little empire, for all of me.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Will Owen

                  Removing the escargot butter is a death penalty offense, but man you have to be more assertive!

                  1. re: mc michael

                    Mrs. O would not have appreciated my yelling in there, which was my first impulse. Not even on my birthday, which it was. Simply refusing to go back is a whole lot easier, given how many other places have both good bread and good escargot, and better and cheaper food. The only reason we did go back was because my Mom-in-law wanted to go there for her birthday, and I picked the day because I wanted to try that terribly disappointing bunny dish. Bummer.

                2. UPDATE: Thank you all for the kind and helpful input. We ended up at Roy's. The Costco deal (thank you, calpurnia), the fish-centric, yet diverse menu - and the happy hour appetizers appealed to our group overall.

                  I didn't arrive for the appetizer, happy hour feast, so I can't speak to that.

                  Service was top-notch. I had a friend recently tell me she and her husband had a horrible service experience, and after my visit last night, I'm baffled as to why and think it had to be one of those one-time flukes or someone having a bad day. In any case, we were graciously greeted and promptly seated and service was excellent throughout.

                  On to the food:

                  Apps: I had the lomi lomi salmon and lobster poke as a starter. The salmon was delicious, but the lobster was hard pressed to find. It was served in a 3-inch round surrounded by a swirl of some sort of honey/soy type sauce. It was a very lovely presentation.

                  Mains: We ended up with two orders of short ribs (myself included). It came highly recommended by the waiter. Two orders of the seafood trio (butterfish, ahi, salmon), and two orders of the rib eye.

                  Short Ribs: I'm a short rib fan and these were disappointing. It was a bit on the dry side and a boring flavor profile (perhaps jfood's short rib recipe has ruined me for life). I also thought the portion was on the small side. It consisted of 2 short ribs on top of a bed of mashed potatoes and veggies. I did double veggies, but the other diner who had the short ribs, said the serving of mashed potatoes was very small.

                  Rib Eye: The stand out was the rib eye - a delicious and flavorful steak - perfectly cooked on both orders. Served on a bed of mashed potatoes and veggies. A beautiful presentation and ample serving of sides. I tried a bite of the wasabi mashed potatoes and they had the perfect amount of kick to them.

                  Seafood Trio: The seafood trio was also enjoyed - the ahi was the selection that was least enjoyed, with the butterfish and salmon being the stars. It came with steamed rice and bok choy, which was a very nice way to round out the dish.

                  Special note: they were fantastic about substitutions and special requests. Such as: swapping out mashed potatoes for other ones that were on the menu, doing double veggies, sauce on the side, and so forth. The orders came out flawlessly - which was impressive in it's own right.

                  Dessert: pineapple upside down cake (served w/ coconut ice cream) and the chocolate lava cake (served w/ vanilla ice cream) were raved about, but I didn't try any....

                  Damage: 3 glasses of wine, 2 beers, 1 happy hour cocktail, misc. happy hour appetizers (maybe 5??), 1 app, 6 mains, 2 desserts: $330

                  Mom enjoyed her b'day dining experience - so, mission accomplished! Thanks, again!

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: The Oracle

                    hi Oracle! guess where i ended up as well? Roy's! Another tipis to get on the Roy's mailing list. Somehow on my birthday my husband got an email for $20 off so we did it. It's interesting to read your experience as mine was pretty different.

                    Service: I found the service was a bit off. we found ourselves starting our meals without drinks or glasses of wine and felt the timing was off. While i was still eating my short ribs the bus guy really wanted to clear my plate even though i was only half done my husband was still in the middle of his shrimp. it was totally uncalled for.

                    Short Ribs: while I agree the flavor was just ok and meat was slightly dry, i found the portion to be pretty big versus small. in fact, when the bus boy insisted on clearing my plate i ended up having him pack it up. Maybe it was the calamari starter or maybe i was just still full from terrible lunch at Katsuya.

                    Guava Mojito- reminded me of Hawaii. Shouldn't it? I mean what's Roy's if it doesn't have a touch of aloha, right?

                    Dessert: Pineapple upside down cake and a comped slice of chocolate layer cake. The latter was dry and forgettable but hey, it's free. who can complain? But the pineapple upside down cake had just the right amount of crunch from the sugar glaze in contrast to the sponge of the cake. it was perfect with the coconut ice cream!

                    Overall it was a decent experience. I'm planning on trying the rib eye or the butterfish next time. Will have to try the Costco deal.

                    1. re: trolley

                      trolley - I was WONDERING where you ended up! :) Were we there the same night, perhaps? (Thursday?).

                      That is so bizarre regarding them clearing your plates ... I wonder if they were eager to bring out your dessert in a timely basis (since they make it to order??).

                      I was a bit miffed at the short ribs - mostly because the waiter HIGHLY recommended them and said it was every better than the rib eye or filet (while it wasn't even CLOSE). I wondered if they were just trying to push them out of the kitchen (especially because they weren't very good).

                      In any case, I hope all went well with the sitter and you were able to have a relaxing b'day night out!

                      1. re: The Oracle

                        STOP IT!! I was there Thursday too!! except i was there at 5pm. Although i don't know what you look like i'm sure i didn't see you as everyone around us were couples or two tops.

                        Yeah, i was miffed about the short ribs as well. they were a bit dry and not what i expected.

                        we went to vertical after that and got some wine flights that were ok. when did flights of wine become so big? ok, maybe that's just me not going out very often!

                        1. re: trolley

                          When you tire of wine flights at Vertical, you can go to Red White + Bluezz or Noir Food & Wine for more.

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                          Red White & Bluezz
                          70 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

                          Noir Food & Wine
                          40 North Mentor Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106

                          1. re: trolley

                            We didn't show up to join our group til 6:45... how cool would that have been to meet you! :)

                            I always end up disappointed at Vertical (with their flights). I want to love them (as I love the space) but never feel particularly impressed with the ones I pick. Were they huge pours? or more than 3 in the flight?

                            1. re: The Oracle

                              Yeah, the Vertical pours don't seem all that generous. But you don't want to numb your taste buds with the first pour either.

                              1. re: The Oracle

                                that certainly would have been fun oracle!

                                you know i think me not liking the flights at vertical was due to a combination of me being too stuffed and sort of two so so wines in the flight that made it not worth it. i'd like to maybe give it another chance on an emptier stomach as it felt like a chore at that point.

                                I picked the italian flight for $18. The first wine was a white which was meh and the second red was meh as well. the 3rd was pretty lovely but forgot the name of it. something long and italian :)

                                the other issue is that the bartender got the flights and just plopped them in front of me without naming each one so i didn't really know what i was drinking. i eventually flagged her down and she named each wine which i wanted her to do in the beginning. my husband got the beer flights and he said never again. all 3 beers were flat and he wasn't sure whether they were supposed to be that way or not.

                                we've certainly had a better time with wine flights at red, white and bluzz and that will be the place i have my wine out next!

                          2. re: trolley

                            If you sign up for Roy's mailing list they send out discounts and spam. I guess I've signed up under 2 different email accounts so I've received 2 "coupons" for $20 off.
                            I have noticed a tendency to early clear dishes. Maybe it's course related or maybe it's to turn those tables.
                            Their happy hour is good, but right now I think Ruth's Chris' is better and half an hour longer. At RC everything on HH is $6 whereas it's $5 at Roy's but RC's portions are bigger.