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Apr 28, 2006 02:19 PM

Review: Mike & Anne's, South Pasadena (w/ photos)

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Restaurant Review: Mike & Anne's, South Pasadena

While perusing the internet a couple months back, my husband stumbled upon news of a new restaurant opening in South Pasadena. He told me that it was scheduled to open in April and we were both excited at the prospect of a new, "nice" dining place so close to our house.

Mike & Anne's opened this past Monday, so we decided to give it a try after strolling around the Thursday Farmer's Market and buying waaaay too many grapefruit. We walked in at around 7:00 pm and a few tables were occupied in the airy, modern and well-lit place. We were seated promptly and given the menu. We had checked the menu online and were disappointed to see that the current menu is about 50% smaller although I'm sure they plan to increase the number of items soon.

We decided to start with the Zucchini Parmesan Fritters. My husband ordered the Vegetable Cassoulet with Grilled Ciabatta as his main while I chose to have two starters- the Grilled Asparagus w/ Manchego, Black Pepper, Sherry Honey Vinaigrette and the Grilled Bratwurst w/ Mustard & Red Cabbage. Our very nice waitress opened the Cotes-Du-Ventoux which we purchased at Nicole's earlier. The restaurant does have a small wine list and charges $10 corkage, although they have a Monday-Tuesday special of free corkage on any wine purchased at Mission Wines, right down the street.

We sat back and awaited our appetizer while trying to see what other people were eating. The portions looked generous and we were excited for our meal. We were given a small bread plate with three slices of nice French bread and creamy unsalted butter. Shortly thereafter, a different waitress came up with three plates saying "vegetable cassoulet?" I told her that we had ordered the fritters to start and she just looked confused. I told her again so she took everything back into the kitchen and started talking to the chef. After a minute or so, she came back with the same three dishes (our mains) so I once again asked about the appetizers. Finally, our waitress came over and apologized about forgetting to put the order in for the fritters but that they would be brought out soon.

Our dishes looked very nice, and we dug in. The cassoulet was well-flavored although the portion seemed small for a main dish- we looked around to see other customers noshing on very large portions of the pork chops and John Dory. Anyway, my bratwurst came cut into 4 pieces and resting on a long, narrow and thick piece of grilled ciabatta which was topped with the braised red cabbage. It looked nice, but it just didn't really work. The bread was rock solid and difficult to cut and chew. The bratwurst was fine and the accompanying mustard and apple puree were nice but I guess when someone orders a bratwurst, you expect a nice hulking link of sausage (stop laughing) -not an unstable, arty presentation of one. My grilled asparagus was again, fine, although there was only a fine sprinkling of grated manchego and the vinaigrette was overly sweet. We got the fritters which were deceivingly golden brown since they provided no crunch at all and had the texture of clouds, which usually wouldn't be a bad thing but aren't fritters supposed to be crispy on the outside? We finished off the meal with their cheese plate which I thought was excellent- the St, Augur Bleu, Garlic Black Pepper, Aged Gouda served with Fig Jam , Micro Arrugula and Chestnut Honey were all delicious.

Although it wasn't the best dining experience, I have to say that I can't be too hard on a place that just opened a few days ago. The service was sincere and they even comp'd the fritters since they came at the end of the meal. I think we will give it a month and try again- hopefully it will turn into a great neighborhood restaurant.

Other info: Lovely patio in front surrounded by potted olive trees and heat lamps. Plenty of street parking. Starts breakfast and lunch service this weekend.

3 appetizers, 1 main, 1 cheese plate, $10 corkage + 2 glasses of pino noir = $86.00 including tax/tip. Not bad at all.

Click on link for photos.

1040 mission street, suite 102
South Pasadena, CA


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  1. Thanks for the review.

    Wonder how this place is going to do going up against long-time favorite Firefly Bistro (among others) ... tough competition in that area of town.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ipse dixit

      Yup, not to mention Bistro de la Gare, which opened very strongly, and which continues to pack'em in. By contrast, this looks kinda like a shaky opening in an increasingly tough neighborhood. The food looks interesting enough, and the shortcomings are not fatal, but small portions for that kind of money had better be knock-me-flat perfect to bring me back, and this doesn't appear to make the grade. Not for South Pas, certainly.

      1. re: Will Owen

        It's a very different place than the other restaurants in the neighborhood, more ``American'' than Bdl Gare, more grill-like than Firefly - a place to drop in for a killer cheeseburger. Or so they say - it's closed for lunch until next week, so I only had a chance to scope the place out today.

        1. re: condiment

          I believe Mike & Anne is trying to position themselves as an Eastside Nook Bistro. Good luck to them.

          The more the merrier (as long as it's good).

          1. re: ipse dixit

            South Pasadena spent so, so long as a burg with only one restaurant worth the name (Shiro), that I imagine the locals would welcome just about anything. Except for anything happening to Buster's, of course.

    2. thanks for the review. the cassoulet looks like an appetizer. ;)

      1. tony alcazar, former sous chef under craig strong at the ritz-carlton in pasadena, is at the stoves here. good chef. does his own pastry too.

        2 Replies
        1. re: revets2

          So, TAG, someone just revived this thread which brought it to my attention, have you been back to this place. It sounded promising in your initial report (and you were correct in not being too harsh on them during opening week).

          I did not realize how old this thread was until I went over to your blog looking for the photos and did not find them straight away, but it was nice to see the photo of Cory keeping cool. Our cats like to curl up in a bathroom sink when they are really hot, but that doesn't usually happen, I just go in to debt paying the air conditioning bill for them.

          1. re: ChinoWayne

            our experience was solid. skirt steak, scallops, zucchini blossoms, and sweet potato fries all excellent. the pork chop and the halibut were a little overcooked for our taste. lovely ambiance. good dessert. reasonable wine list with free corkage from chris meeske's mission wine on mon. and tues. he also did their wine list.

        2. Just got back from Mike and Anne's. Nice restaurant, pleasant wait staff. The tables are way too close together for the wait-staff, however, which leads to lots of jostling and stepping on guests feet. Nice conversations with our neighbors, though! A number of mistakes were made with the dessert delivery, too, all patiently resolved, but still. And I don't like dishes cleared before everyone's done--but I understand that some don't mind. If you do, don't go to Mike and Anne's.

          The inside and outside were PACKED and we were glad we made a 6:30 reservation or we would have been out of luck. We had hamburgers (one with sweet potato fries, one with shoestrings), pan-roasted mushrooms, and then homemade ice cream. Major comfort food meals. The hamburgers were good and juicy, though a little underseasoned and there was no detectable difference between the rare and the medium rare burgers. Sweet potato fries, served with a side of garlic aioli, were to die for. Hot, well-seasoned, yum. Much better than the shoestrings which do go hard and cold quickly. The pan roasted mushrooms are going to get me to go back. They were insanely good, perfectly cooked, with just the right amount of garlic and parsley. As others have mentioned, the desserts are good and it's worth saving room. We had malted milk ice cream that was excellent, drizzled with caramel sauce with some baby chocolate madeleines tucked in for good measure. The wine list is ok, but not as good as Firefly around the corner, and considerably more expensive. Had a 2002 Clayton Zinfandel for $11 a glass which is pretty steep. My sense on the wine is that they're trying to hard and it's not really working.

          One thing I noticed sitting in the restaurant was that the portion sizes vary enormously. The sides are bigger than some of the mains--very odd. They serve the flatiron steak on a tiny rectangular starters plate with its tiny dollop of mashed potatoes ornamented with a carmelized mushroom. Then the mac and cheese side we see going to another table is a considerable, hefty portion. What gives?

          I'm going back for pan-roasted mushrooms and mac and cheese (2 sides), and a glass of white wine--oh, and the ice cream, too. Lots of promise as a neighborhood hangout and a fantastic addition to the Pas restaurant scene that keeps you from having to deal with the scrums on Colorado.

          1. went here for both lunch and dinner on Saturday...had two amazing meals both times. Sat outside...very romantic...great food and service