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Altadena!

Altadena finally has a wonderful restaurant! I had given up eating out in our area, but AltaEats (which has been open only for 10 days on Allen and Mendocino) is exciting, trendy, upscale and has outstanding food. The place was packed and reservations were hard to come by, but the food was worth the wait. Had the scallop trio and kale/quinoa salad, and both were exquisite. Our friends raved about the himachi appetizer and we shared the paella, also wonderful but not the standout dish that the scallops were. Roasted cauliflower was fabulous, as were the desserts (especially the chocolate mousse, which was not the run-of-the mill variety - really exceptional). This restaurant wouldn't be out of place on Melrose which is all the more exciting to find it in Altadena. Many thanks to the owners for the risk they took but from the look of it, the neighborhood will support their effort with pleasure. The owners are very gracious and it is always a treat to be able to bring one's own wine.

1860 N Allen Ave
Pasadena, CA 91104
Neighborhood: Pasadena
(626) 794-1162

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  1. Our neighborhood blog has been buzzing about it.
    I plan to go when the initial crush has died down.
    It is Allen and New York, no?

    1. Thanks for the write up! Can't wait to try it. What's the price point like? I drove by the other day and the place was packed! It's at Allen and New York Drive, though - right?

      1. ooops - yes, Allen and New York Drive, sorry!

        1. I'm looking forward to trying this place.

          Website includes a menu with prices.
          http://altaeats.com/

          1. Thursday we had our first meal at Alta Eats, and it was wonderful.

            Their fresh baked bread, served with butter and sea salt was the perfect way to get started,

            We started with the special appetizer for the day - veal sweetbreads with aioli and a creamy dill sauce. The sweetbreads were perfectly cooked, and the aioli was the perfect companion. (I am not fond of the flavor of dill)

            We then had the regular appetizer of roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta and piquilo. This was really flavorful, perhaps because of the great pancetta. Perfect two starters.

            My wife ordered the Jidori chicken with roasted beets and sweet potatoes. The chicken was one of the best I have tasted - small legs and thigh meat, with a perfectly crisped thin skin, very moist and flavorful meat, and great slightly sweetened potato puree. The only discordant element was the slight bitter aftertaste of the root vegetables.

            I ordered sesame crusted tuna steak with roasted bok choy. Tuna was perfectly cooked, and it came with a lemony white sauce painted on the dish. Now in retrospect I am wishing I had asked for some more of the sauce - it had such a wonderful citrusy note!

            We finished sharing a trio of creme brulee - vanilla, mango, and coconut. The vanilla was my favorite, but the other two were good too. We also had two decaf coffees in a french press.

            They have not yet got a liquor license, so for now there is no corkage fee, which is almost perfect to go celebrate a special bottle of wine with great food at reasonable prices, and in a convivial atmosphere. We drank an Argyle Williamette Valley Pinot Noir, which was light (12.5% alcohol), and perfect for the meal.

            They are also now offering a Sunday Roastie meal - which is a choice of John's Lamb Shank + Creamed Polenta + Grilled Garlic Eggplant OR Ted's Roast Chicken + Basil Whipped Potatoes + Green Beans. This is a $40 value meal which feeds 4 and comes with 2 loaves of fresh baked bread. You have to place your order by 1pm at 626-794-1162 or paul@altaeats.com

            I spoke to chef Paul Ragan and he was very gracious, and the service was impeccable. They had a short write-up recently in LA Times - see http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...

            This is a gem of a neighborhood restaurant, and I hope they really do well.

            18 Replies
            1. re: suvro

              Thanks for the writeup.

              May be a Mother's Day destination.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                We are thinking the same, with a close friend.
                Time to take one of the special bottles of wine!

              2. re: suvro

                Survo! I think I was seated next to you!!!

                I agree on it being a gem of a restaurant and I hope they do well. I tried to make a reservation for the prior weekend and they were all booked. I have a feeling they will thrive in their location!

                In our case, our main course (paella) fell flat. Some friends went the night before and had some hits and misses - notably the jirdori chicken (they didn't like the dish, I didn't get details, but maybe it was the root vegetables you mentioned) and they thought the portion size/price point was off (priced too high) overall. I didn't think that was an issue, personally.

                We started with their brussel sprouts (perfectly cooked but the chunks of pancetta stole the show and really added to the dish) and mussels/frites (also perfectly cooked and quite a large portion). The paella had some of the same mussels and pancetta... which were good, but it was a bit of overkill at this point. Had it not been for the pancetta in the paella, the dish would have been very bland. In hind-sight, I would have preferred to try more of their appetizer sized dishes vs. the paella.

                Desserts are a home run - the trio of creme brule (served in mini ramekins) was outstanding - in order of preference: vanilla, coconut, mango. We also tried their molten chocolate dessert (can't remember what they call it) served with creme anglaise... it was extremely rich and liquid. I wish it had set up just a little bit more, as we could not finish the soup like middle/bottom.

                I do plan on going back soon to try more. Everything on the menu was highly appealing. And, that bread... warm, pliable goodness. Wow! It's easily the best bread I've had in a very long time!

                I thought the noise level was a tad high. Especially considering the restaurant was only half full.

                Price point is fantastic - 2 apps, 1 main, 2 desserts, 1 coffee - $65 pre-tip.

                1. re: The Oracle

                  Wow! On one side (to my left) was 2-top with 2 ladies. They had the paella - so that must have been your table. What wine were you drinking?

                  On my right the 2-top was empty, and further down it had a couple who had gotten there before us.

                  I forgot to mention - as you and judybird note below - the noise level was very high. However, as the restaurant filled, it seemed to get a little quieter! Maybe all diners realized how loud the noise level was and toned down their volume! I am glad they will be putting some sound absorbing material on the walls.

                  I think their Sunday Roastie is a good deal - $10/person for a more or less complete meal. We had ordered it for last Sunday, but unfortunately our guest had to cancel the outing, and so I ended up canceling the order.

                  1. re: suvro

                    Can you expound on the Sunday Roastie? I can't find it on their web site.

                    1. re: judybird

                      From my post above:
                      They are also now offering a Sunday Roastie meal - which is a choice of John's Lamb Shank + Creamed Polenta + Grilled Garlic Eggplant OR Ted's Roast Chicken + Basil Whipped Potatoes + Green Beans. This is a $40 value meal which feeds 4 and comes with 2 loaves of fresh baked bread. You have to place your order by 1pm at 626-794-1162 or paul@altaeats.com

                      1. re: suvro

                        That's amazing! Thanks, I don't doubt we'll be trying it soon.

                        1. re: suvro

                          Is that for take out only, or dine in also?

                          1. re: pley

                            I think it is only for takeout.

                      2. re: suvro

                        directly to your left - same side of the table :) Small world!! :) We were drinking a Pinot Noir from Cambria Vineyards.

                    2. re: suvro

                      "You're having the snake?" my buddy hollered from across the table.

                      "No," I shouted back, "the steak..."

                      "The RIB-EYE," I said, trying again, as he cupped his hand behind his ear.

                      This wasn't going well.

                      AltaEats is Altadena's first West Side restaurant. Unfortunately, AltaEats is also West Side loud, with a stark interior that makes the time spent a noisy, unpleasant experience.

                      That's too bad, because the selection of dishes is mostly good, and some choices are great. Yet what I walked away with the most, was the noise.

                      The server and chef Paul Ragan both promised it's being worked on -- padding on the walls, they said. That, and shades on the windows to block the bright, late afternoon sun. Me, I'd have the Schism Design, the company planned the inside, pick up the tab on the retrofit.

                      The food's a mixed bag: the Little Gem salad -- a tiny bite for the three of us -- is a young, small rather ordinary lettuce sliced down the middle; sadly, there were only two of the precious white anchovies on the $8 plate.

                      The bone-in rib-eye had a good texture and flavor, with a tasty reduction sauce, though it was cooked a tad over medium rare.

                      Our friend Bill ordered the unremarkable paella; the rice could have been moister, or crunchier, or something, he said, and I would have enjoyed more calamari and shrimp in the dish. It just didn't leave a lasting impression.

                      My wife had the clear winner: Three plump, moist, scallops, each with a different, strongly-flavored sauce, which I sopped up with the chewy, sourdough-like bread.

                      We all liked the roasted brussel sprouts and pancetta, but argued, as we always do, about the side of fries. Judy likes thin string fries; me, I think the first few bites are okay, but they get cold and cardboardy too quickly, and these needed a sprnkling of salt. Give me a pile of sizzling, right-out-of-the-fryer big, meaty steak fries anytime -- Lucky Baldwins has the best -- even they're off the Sysco truck.

                      The service was top-notch; all three servers was attentive, and the food was delivered Chinese-style: onto the table when it was ready.

                      And AltaEats doesn't have the ABC's blessings yet, so you can bring your own booze, all without paying for corkage. We poured a taste for the server, though we never heard if she liked it.

                      The place was jammed with everyone talking loudly enough to try to be heard. Yet I'd go back for another try. Next time, though, we'll go after the 7:00 crowd has left. That way Bill may even be able to hear me say what I'm ordering.

                      1. re: suvro

                        I had my second meal at AltaEats yesterday.

                        The good news is the restaurant seems to be thriving simply by word of mouth, and perhaps the small writeup in LA Times.

                        The bad news is that they still are an echo chamber - we were told they are in the design phase of sound absorbing material. But it was almost a shouting match across all tables!

                        Also, they run out of many items by late evening.
                        We had asked for a 8pm reservation, but only were able to secure 8:30pm seats. As a result, several items were sold out. Chef Ragan sources his produce every morning, and so will have limited items for dinner.

                        Their chicken dish was great the first time we went, but they had substituted the roasted Jidori chicken with a Jidori chicken tagine, which sounded attractive. But all chicken was sold out!

                        The other special for yesterday was a soft shell crab dish, but by 8:30pm that was sold out.

                        My friend's wife ordered the lamb dish, but the waitress came back and said that between placing the order and her walking to the kitchen, that too sold out.

                        So she and her husband ordered the walu - escolar, aka butterfish - and they both thought it was excellent!

                        I ordered the steak with beer batter onion rings - it was excellent. The medium rare doneness, the intensely flavorful sauce, and the non-oily onion rings combined to make a memorable entree.

                        They did not have the creme brulee trio, so we ordered the tart with cardamom creme anglaise and mascarpone. It was delicious.

                        I am hoping that they iron out the issues about the sound level, availability of entrees, and sometimes slow service. It can become a true neighborhood gem!

                        1. re: fignewtonjohn

                          I just bought this - so I don't have to cook dinner tonight - $36 for 2 small plates, 1 shareable entree, and 1 dessert. Will try an early seating. Hopefully the noise abatement effort has started!

                          1. re: suvro

                            I bought one as well and used it last week. The place was just as full (if not more so) as my last visit and it was considerably quieter. I didn't notice anything different on the walls, etc - but it was a pleasant noise level.

                            For food I had:
                            Apps: duck hash & scallops
                            Main: Lamb
                            Dessert: Butterscotch Pudding

                            The food & service was excellent, but the size of the apps, left me hungry and wanting more. The lamb was a good portion, but I could have easily had another entree (vs. my prior visit where 2 apps and 1 main were more than sufficient).

                            The deal may be off-putting to some, based on small portion size, depending on what's ordered. Also, there's a $2 charge if you ask for a 2nd loaf of bread - FYI.

                            1. re: The Oracle

                              Thanks for the report. We could not go on Saturday since their voice mail message said they were no longer taking reservations for the weekend. So despite the noise and other teething problems, they seem to be packing it in. Just shows that this corner of Altadena is hungry for some good value priced grub!

                              So Oracle, this is not sufficient for 2 people? Perhaps we might consider ordering an additional main?

                              1. re: suvro

                                The duck hash is delicious and tiny (maybe 6 bites in total). The scallops are 3 individual scallops - all presented with different sauces (also delicious). My guess those are the 2 smallest apps they serve... so, if you are going with those two for apps, then - yes, I'd say you'd definitely need another main (or at least another app!).

                          2. re: suvro

                            Sorry to hear about the noise problem, hardly unknown in these parts; there are three restaurants that have fallen off our list for exactly that, and if we're forewarned we won't even bother to go. We like to converse while we eat, but not by bellowing.

                            Now that I know about this place I'll watch for signs that they've taken abatement measures, and that those have worked. Then we'll check it out.

                            1. re: Will Owen

                              I think they have done something to help with the noise. Not quite sure what, but it was definitely toned down when I went last week.

                        2. It's walking distance from our house, so we couldn't wait to try it, finally got there with a friend last night. Three of us had: little gem salad, brussels sprouts, scallops, rib eye and paella. We brought a bottle of 2006 Au Bon Climat chardonnay which was perfect with the first courses, then our friend brought a Linne Calodo Problem Child, a Zinfandel blend with which we finished the meal. The service was friendly and competent without being cloying.

                          The standouts were the scallops, Brussels sprouts and ribeye, which was one of the best steaks I've ever had. I got the bone, which I gnawed on with pleasure. Paella was tasty, but missing the crunch of browned rice at the bottom, and the salad was a salad.

                          I'd definitely have the scallops again, and would love to try the lamb, but there's one problem nobody has mentioned - the noise level was deafening. The room is all sharp angles and hard surfaces, we had to yell to talk to our friend across the table, and all left with our ears ringing.

                          The waitress told us they're planning on putting some fabric padding on the walls which should help some, but as good as the food was, I don't think we'll be back unless there's a real change to the acoustics.

                          That said, the place was full on a Monday night - obviously a lot of people are okay with the volume.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: judybird

                            That's great news about the padding because the noise was definitely an issue!

                          2. Has anyone recently been to AltaEats?

                            I have been trying to make a reservation for Friday - I sent email on Monday. However, last time I managed to get a reservation, they were very slow to respond to email. So I have been also trying to call them - but the phone is never picked up by a person - it always goes to an outgoing voice message, asking to send email!

                            Also I wonder if they have managed to tame the noise in the room by now.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: suvro

                              Still fantastic. I shlep all the way from WestLA just to eat here (OK... and a side trip to Bulgarini HQ too).

                              For AltaEats, I just show up just before closing and hope for the best. Hasn't failed me yet.

                              1. re: J.L.

                                Last visit at 8:30 pm, they had run out of many entrees and even some appetizers.

                              2. re: suvro

                                We went last night, even though I had not heard back since my email, sent on Monday, and then a voice mail left late Tuesday evening!

                                The place looks closed from the outside, since they don't have any signs, and the shutters were down, but it was almost full inside. The hostess said she was "off 1 day of the week - Monday, etc. etc.", and she looked up her email right there, and there it was. After a 15 minute wait sitting on the bench outside, we were seated.

                                The LivingSocial deal was $36 for 2 appetizers, 1 entree, and 1 dessert. We were a party of three, so we added another 2 entrees to our order. We could have probably done with just 1 additional entree.

                                Appetizers:
                                We had the roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta - as good as our last visit.
                                We also tried the roasted cauliflower with cumin and pinenuts. It was quite good, though some of the florets were a tad too crunchy. Also the little oil in the plate was very tasty and we mopped it up with the always fantastic bread - they should consider drizzling a little more of that flavored oil on the florets.

                                Entree:
                                We had 2 orders of the Jidori chicken with roasted fingerling potatoes. I had one of the leg pieces - while the skin was very crisp and flavorful, my piece was a little undercooked, compared to the previous visit. Others liked their pieces very much, specially our guest who prefers chicken to other meats.
                                The third entree we ordered was rack of lamb (5 chops), with potato-leek gratin (absolutely delicious), and roasted carrots and green beans. This was a standout dish.

                                They had several specials of the day - and unlike our last visit, they seemed to have plenty of food and had not run out of any dishes.

                                For dessert we had the butterscotch toffee pudding with caramel bacon topped with edible flower petals. This was also superb with the French press coffee.

                                We had taken a 2008 Chateau St. Didier Parnac Cahors (Malbec) and it paired superbly with the lamb, and since it is much less tannic than the Argentine Malbecs, it was not overpowering the chicken either.

                                Overall a very nice dinner. The noise level was much quieter, even though it was full most of the time we were there. Perhaps the patrons were less loud than on our earlier visits.

                                I surely hope they improve their reservation and phone response system - then they would be a true neighborhood gem.

                                1. Went back tonight - at 7:30pm the place was half empty - which was good for noise - at least we could hear each other.

                                  Our choices (for 3 people):

                                  Appetizer: Split a Roasted Mushroom, Gruyere, and Crab appetizer. This was very rich, and came with bread, which was not needed.

                                  Mains:
                                  Jidori chicken - this was very good, as in previous visits. The pan drippings were so terrific, that I had to mop it up with some bread.

                                  Herb crusted rack of lamb - this was also outstanding, with a nice crust that had a hint of sweetness

                                  Special fish for the day was Barramundi with a lavender sauce - I liked it, my wife and daughter not so much. The sauce was really well perfumed with lavender.

                                  Side: we had a cauliflower with peanut sauce - which was a standout. The peanut sauce base had coconut milk, shallots, and a couple of spices, and was excellent with the high-temperature roasted cauliflower florets!

                                  Dessert: These are not listed on the menu - but they had three. We split a butterscotch pudding with a creme flavored with some flower petals. This was so rich and satisfying.

                                  We drank E. Guigal Chateauneuf du Pape 2007 which was outstanding! It is still BYOB with no corkage, so great way to drink some of the better bottles in one's cellar.