racion, not half bad not great.
though the salt-cod fritters were pretty darn good, reminded be of a lighter than air falafel crossed with a lightly fried, wafer thin crusted crab cake.
the lamb meatballs were barely ok.
and the lozenge of chocolate mousse was rich, dark, and haunting, though the sided pedro ximenez sherry granita truly added nothing to the dish and the coffee ice cream was OK.
i didn't see the crab salad nor the duck ham, which i was really looking forward to, any longer on the menu.
has anyone tried the cinnamon-spiced duck? any good?
what else have you tried that's good? i may just skip it in the future, it's not great nor cheap.
somehow i was left decidely unsatisfied.
Not a lover of Racion for QPR. AltaEats is shaping up nicely, but more of a neighborhood spot. Kimagure is our favorite restaurant in Pasadena and you could actually get out of there for about the same price as Racion and bring your wine for a small corkage fee to boot! Luggage Room Pizzeria is reliable.
Love the LQ Foodings. All the food has been phenom in our last two dinners there, but the last fooding, perhaps they overbooked. The kitchen was clearly in the weeds and we were waiting sometimes almost 40 min between courses. A friend looked at his watch and said, "We've been here since 6:00pm and with any luck we'll be out of here by 1am!" Laurent apologized profusely. He's a classy dude.
We went for the first time yesterday - Mother's Day - and the experience was decidedly mixed!
It took a long time for the host person to seat us for our 2pm reservation - there were many open tables when we got there, as well as throughout the meal. But she was SLOW in doing anything! The worst was the pacing of the meal - when the restaurant was NOT busy. Our first dish arrived at 2:30 - almost 25 minutes after we were seated.
My wife had the sangria - and that was good - she had two! I had their Spanish Pilsner - Estella Damm. This was very light and refreshing.
We started with squid ink pasta with mussels and quail egg - and this was the best dish - so things went slightly downhill from here. There were no mussels that I could detect. There were some grilled baby octopus instead - but the crunchiness of the squid ink pasta was superb!
The next dish to arrive were the roasted seasonal vegetables with Romesco sauce. The single crisped carrot was delicious - but it was a baby carrot, and almost the size of a vanilla bean pod after the roasting. Roasted cauliflower florets were great too, but the Chiogga beets (or was it some type of turnip - it had the rings like Chiogga beets), onions were so so. The Romesco sauce was very good. I have to make it more often to accompany grilled vegetables at home.
The third dish was the crispy prawns (3) on bread with tomato and garlic - only two pieces of bread. It was nothing special. The olive oil for the garlicky tomatoes was quite good, but aside from that, this is not something I would order again.
The final dish was the flatbread with chorizo, caramelized onions, and goat cheese. The crust was too thick in parts - almost felt uncooked, the caramelized onions were dealt with a heavy hand, overwhelming the small amounts of the chorizo and goat cheese. We could not finish the pieces - so I am having the leftover for lunch - and neither was it tasty enough that we wanted to eat more of it.
As I said, the pacing was so slow that it felt we were getting poor service, but the waitperson was solicitous about other things - changing plates and silverware as needed.
It was decidedly a mixed experience - I am going back again mid-week with better preparation for dishes to choose, and for the evening dinner.
I had one great dinner at Racion and one meh dinner at Racion. I do think Racion is the better bet between the two (from an ambiance, interesting menu, wine selection perspective). Although, I will say, I haven't been to Malbec in over a year, so my food comparison is not up to date.
Malbec is better value for the money.
Racion is more interesting in terms of what's on the menu.
If the service is on (and the timing), Racion will be a lovely experience. My top menu picks are the beets, short ribs, lamb meatballs. (I was not a fan of the salt cod fritters. I thought overall portion size decreased on my 2nd visit). The Squid Ink Pasta was not consistent on both visits, but worth a try, IMO.
That said - other than the wine list, I have no real desire to go back. At the food price point, the value isn't appealing in the least. If I want to drop that kind of cash, I'll head elsewhere.
re: The Oracle
Had dinner at Racion last night. Must say the chicken croquettes were decent. The cod fritters had nearly no taste. Nor did the calamari salad.
Had the beef tongue flatbread, enjoyed it the most, yet it was served on their good quality bread that once baked became very tough to chew.
Crusty bread is a big item on the menu.
The roasted vegetable dish had enough for one person for $9, aka it was the size of a fava bean in scale. Hardly splittable for 3.
Cloud dessert was meh.
I really had to search the menu for things I wanted to eat.
Service was fine, yet the wine list was not.
While I like Malbec, the wine and the restaurant better, I would not return to either again.
I like Spanish wines, yet the selection at Racion was so underwhelming.
Since I live in Sherman Oaks, I probably would not go to Pasadena for dinner.
Arroyo Chop House has been reliable over the years, yet is way expensive.
It seems like many a Pasadena visitor or resident likes slater's 50/50 on Raymond & Union, meaning burgers, etal.
If I head that direction, I drive toward the chinese restaurant corridor where I have many options.
Ate last Saturday night at Babita in San Gabriel.
That relleno was wonderful.
Very reliable, very good, good wine list, and nicest owners.
I guess I'm a contrarian. I have been to Racion no less than a dozen times since it opened. I have found the food consistent, energetic, well executed and most importantly delicious. Yes, some dishes are better than others. We love the cod fritters to start the meal. Perfect bites of salty, creamy cod. The squid ink pasta and smoked cauliflower are must haves for me. The ribeye is a perfectly cooked medium rare with wonderful flavor. I honestly think Teresa is making some of the best food in the area and is a true talent. With respect to the wine list, I find it very well thought out and representative of Spain. With producers like Gilabert, Laureano Seres, Benitos Santos, Urki, Muga, Lopez, Pecina, etc...you cannot go wrong. In fact, it is refreshing to see quality producers rather than the usual volume vendors. I support this restaurant and am grateful for their addition to the Pasadena scene.
Aside from the cod fritters, IMHO you didn't try their best dishes.
Best dishes I had when I visited:
Cod (bacalao) fritters - What you had is how they make them in Spain. Glad you liked that too.
Fideua (squid ink pasta) with uni
Desserts were OK, nothing extraordinary.