Abricott - Pasadena is looking not quite as weak
Abricott has opened on Lake St. in a former Koo Koo Roo and it's a vast improvement. It's a casual, order at the counter cafe from the owners of Daisy MInt, with similar Asian touches as well as sandwiches and pastries. The decor is sweet and whimsical, with a nicely-decorated private room in the back, a cozy nook where a couple can share a couch, and a roomy patio. We tried a spicy pork belly sandwich and the trout-papaya salad, both flavorful and good, if not mind-blowing. Most people seemed to be ordering the beef pho or chicken curry at lunchtime, but the breakfast menu looks good and is served until 3 pm. With Daisy Mint, Cham Korean Bistro, Slaw Dogs, Intelligentsia, Settebello and a few others, perhaps Pasadena is not quite as weak as before.
1218 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA
The Slaw Dogs
720 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104
238 S Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101
Having read Amy Scattergood's story in the Weekly, Mrs. O was hot to find this place and try it, so we did that this afternoon. Initial reaction was mildly annoyed, like we really need yet another order-at-counter joint, but between the vibe, the smells and the menu we got happy pretty fast. She was a little put out by the lack of veggie options, but the woman at the counter said there were some not on the work-in-progress menu, and called to John, the chef/owner who was nearby. He suggested she try the yellow veg curry with yogurt and a side of Chinese almond salad. I was already set on the banh mie with pork belly and a side of salad greens. I got us napkins, utensils and water from the front table and we found a quiet table in the central hallway, with a continuous banquette seat along the wall and comfortable wooden chairs along the aisle. After the food appeared, very quickly, she was sharing bites with me, all very good. The salad was a sort of fresh-kimchi slaw with thinly sliced almonds; the curry was creamy and not too spicy, with big chunks of potato and carrot, plus mushrooms and green beans. There was a faint aftertaste of fish sauce, not unpleasant. My banh mie was not on a baguette, but more like an Amoroso roll; the pork belly was shaved quite thin and aggressively seasoned in a sweet and spicy barbecue-ish way, and there seemed to be a more finely cut version of the slaw on there too.
About this time John came around to see how we were doing, and noticed that the server had neglected to bring any yogurt, so he went to fetch it, a nice little steel pot with maybe a third of a cup of very thick yogurt. It really did transform the curry, from merely delicious to gorgeous. If I have any criticism it would be that I thought almost everything was oversalted, though I'm much more sensitive to that than Mrs. O, who pronounced it perfect. We ate everything, which I had not expected - banh mie and curry bowl were huge, and then there was the brown rice I forgot to mention! - but it was so good we couldn't bring ourselves to stop. And total tab, with tax but w/o tip, was $21 and change.
This is an excellent addition to South Lake, in an area I visit at least once every day. It's in the old KooKooRoo space next to The Hamlet, with a back door handy to the big parking lot. We chatted with John for a while about what dishes he was working on and what he had in mind about menu modifications; it's good to see someone that focused on his food and obviously enjoying it.
Also note, they do not have a liquor license and let you bring in your own, and are very accommodating.
This alone makes the going to the place worth it. They are still working out the kinks I think of running the place but it is a nice environ, the food is mostly good and reasonably priced.