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Jan 14, 2013 04:59 PM

Plate38 in Pasadena - Closing for Remodeling

According the restaurant's Facebook page, this Saturday night will be the last night of Plate38's current appearance - apparently reopening mid-February.

Feel badly for the place, to be honest - like the idea and have always had good service, but the food has been hit-and-miss for us, with some really bad mis-steps (the squash soup, which we were assured was vegetarian, being served with lardons floating on the top was most notable). Always want to like it more than I do.

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  1. Maybe they'll take that damned sign down, then! Especially since I've found at least two burgers that are better.

    I've had stuff I enjoyed there too, but it was never as good as the guy seemed to think it was. When I gave him some mild grief about braising boneless short ribs, which will never be as rich and lovely as bone-in ones, he plainly didn't know what I was talking about.

    12 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Abricott is one … I'm trying to remember what the other was.
        I'm just not eating a lot of those lately, although as a good Pasadenan I suppose I should be honoring Cheeseburger Week somehow.

        1. re: Will Owen

          I did like the Korean marinade sauce on the abricott burger.

          1. re: Will Owen

            How about the burger from pie and burger. ?

            1. re: Will Owen

              Speaking of 'dena burgers, Will, have you tried the ones at Slater's 50-50?
              The place is already quite popular, and the rumors have the food quite good. In space previously home to Vive and Nonya, depending on how you remember it.
              At 61 N. Raymond.

              1. re: Will Owen

                I'll disagree with you on Abricott over Plate38 (I've tried both), although I must admit that I really disliked the fries at Abricott, so maybe that colors my opinion of the burger as well.

                1. re: Jack Flash

                  I was even more disappointed at Abricott's fries than I was by Plate 38's. And Noir's as well. How is it possible to do shoestring fries LIMP?? "Shoestring" is supposed to refer to the size, not the physical characteristics!

                  Kevin, I don't recall any marinade on my burger, unless it was too subtle for my elderly smeller. It just tasted like very good beef, and the degree of doneness was spot-on both times I had it. As for the Pie'n'Burger burger, it's good because of how and where it's made: flat-grilled, wrapped and served hot in a place that smells like burgers. Their potato salad is what keeps me coming back, though.

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    Oh, yeah, I really liked their potato salad, but then again I did need a long nap after munching on the potato salad.

                    1. re: kevin

                      It's the kind I grew up with and make myself, so to me it's like … I don't know, health food? A light bite. I could stand a double order, actually. Anyway, it's probably as calorific as the fries, so when I want fries instead I don't feel that I'm cheating on my diet or whatever.

            2. re: Will Owen

              That's it: I've had some stuff that I've enjoyed there but there was always that feeling that it could have been better - that they thought it was better than it was. Every single thing had something "off" when I ordered it more than once.

              Case in point: I've had great cheese plates there. I've also had cheese plates where the cheese had sat out for so long that it had hard / dry parts. I've had a great steak there (can't recall what it's called on the menu at the moment) and had steak so bad that I had to send it back and I'm not one to send food back.

              We've had service issues ("I'd like to start with a dinner salad" and had the salad arrive with the entree, repeatedly), but I've wanted to support them.

              1. re: ElsieDee

                "Every single thing had something "off" when I ordered it more than once."
                Agreed, even on first ordering. Place lasted way longer than it should have. Never really settled on a vision.

                Look at me, talking like it's closing for good. Will, I'm sure they'll get that fine sign back up in no time.

              2. re: Will Owen

                I went there about two weeks ago precisely because I saw the sign; and I must say, it's a damn good burger. The best in memory. I've been craving it ever since. The sweet potato fries were so so.

                I also tried Slaters 50/50 yesterday, and the burgers there are all show. Size is obviously the objective, with the typical burger 5-6 inches tall. Show me a mouth that's 5-6 inches tall..... Anyway, two of the four burgers at our table came out with the wrong toppings (perhaps a function of 50 or so topping options). And there's nothing special about any of them. This is a case where quantity (1 lb burger, 50 toppings, 100 beers) overshadows quality. Service was good, though.

              3. I was about to say was this the place that served the burger praised by our very own Will Owen ?

                But I see that I was too late already.

                3 Replies
                1. re: kevin

                  You have no idea how hard I tried to get that thing removed, going directly to the mods to alert their overlords' legal department - they did not get permission to use that logo, I think - but I guess someone thought, Hey, free publicity! In the meantime I've been taking constant ribbing by all the other kids …

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    You write up a good review on a pretty decent burger, and then it comes back to haunt you.

                    That does suck.

                    1. re: kevin

                      If the burger truly deserved it, and if the establishment didn't just highjack the praise without so much as a "May we?" I'd be okay with it.

                      Lesson to me is that nobody should write a glowing review of something he's had only one of. That's a real rookie trick, and I should've known better. A "first-visit" review is okay, but committing yourself to some real ranking for various food items should be reserved for after several visits, I think.

                2. UPDATE: Been back four times since the remodel. Overall verdict is decidedly mixed.

                  Food: Nothing we've had has been outstanding (one brunch / lunch and two dinners - fourth visit was for dinner, but we walked out) and several items have been bad (including one shrimp dish and one fish dish, in both cases the food was sent back to the kitchen due to lack of freshness). Sandwiches were okay, one egg dish was fine, and mains at dinner were ... okay. Everything was between middling and solid. Some flavors bright and fresh, others are muddled, also issues with consistency between visits and items being unavailable and substitutions being made without letting diners know.

                  Pricing: Still high for this end of Pasadena and for the quality.

                  Staff: Some great servers, bussers, and runners. Dour young hostess who seems to be out of her comfort zone and decidedly unfriendly on two visits (both times we were parked at the bar waiting for a table to open - both times, when a table opened and we asked if it was ours, we were told that the table was for someone who'd just called to reserve it and that since we were already at the bar we should just order there - we left the last time this happened, the first time we just took the table). Also a very hostile owner / chef, who lectured one of our guests about the seafood dish that had been sent back, on the fact that it was sometimes difficult to get fresh fish.

                  As for the atmosphere - remodel is lovely, new tables and chairs are much more comfortable, but the space is even louder than before.

                  So. Yeah. A mixed bag.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: ElsieDee

                    Huh. Tough break on the hostess (and the fish). Is the owner/chef the same guy pre-remodel?

                    1. re: cant talk...eating

                      I'd guess (jumping in here) he is the same guy. I did not want to use the p-word, but I thought he was a bit, ummmm, prickly …

                      Biggest difference between that and abricott: the guy at abricott has I think twice the inventiveness of Mr. P38, but on my first few visits he was asking penetrating but very polite questions about what we liked or didn't, and why, and was actually listening to the answers. Mr. P38, on the other hand, always knows better than you.

                      1. re: cant talk...eating

                        Yes, Will is right - the same owner / chef as before the remodel. And Will is also spot-on about his attitude, as well. Prickly is an excellent descriptor (I actually went out of my way to compliment him on a dish that I'd tried previously and not cared for - tried a bite from a friend's dish in the last visit and the flavors were much more balanced - I was lectured about the importance of consistency and how nothing had changed. Odd way to respond to a compliment.).

                        I do need to make it to Abricott - love Daisy Mint - for some reason, though, I always forget about Abricott as an option. Am now attempting to make a mental note. (Thanks for the reminder, Will!)

                        1. re: ElsieDee

                          Curious why you keep going back if the experiences (all four of them) have been "decidedly mixed"?

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Good question. First was brunch with friends who wanted something close with both brunch and lunch offerings. Two were business related and not of my choosing. Last visit - when we walked out - was a case of "it is late, we are in the area, and we are hungry." Keep hoping that something will change - would be great to have a midrange place at this end of town.