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Anthaneum (sp?) - has anyone been to this joint on the CalTech campus ????

kevin May 31, 2013 12:03 PM

Anyway to get in if one is not an alum ?????

Any connections ? Is the food pretty crappy besides the intellectual scene ?

Someone mentioned this is the joint from BH Cop 1. Correct ?

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  1. j
    jennymoon RE: kevin May 31, 2013 01:11 PM


    Caltech students and faculty call it "The Ath." It is primarily for faculty and their guests. You need to be a member or a guest of a member in order to eat there - alumni do not have access unless they have paid for an annual membership.

    The food is quite good - I have eaten lunch there about ten times and dinner once or twice.

    Lunch includes a buffet option, for quick-ish workday meals. I ate my first cold fruit soup there. The strawberry lemonade is also memorable. Other than that, the lunch menu is mostly salads and sandwiches, which are fresh, tasty, and well-dressed but not particularly inventive.

    Dinner is fancier and very well prepared. You can look at the menus at the website that I linked to above.

    The atmosphere is very classy, charming, and old-school. There are white tablecloths and stone columns. The waitstaff are butler-like.

    I don't have any tips for getting in - make friends with some Techers and hope they have a wedding at the Ath? It is a popular place for weddings, but you have to be a member or sponsored by a member to have your wedding there. You can't become a member unless you or your spouse are faculty, researchers, alumni, or current students of the Caltech community (includes JPL and maybe some others).

    If you manage to get in, have a Berries Athenaeum for me - it's been a few years :)

    13 Replies
    1. re: jennymoon
      kevin RE: jennymoon May 31, 2013 02:03 PM

      How did you get in if I may be so gauche to query ?

      1. re: kevin
        J.L. RE: kevin May 31, 2013 03:08 PM

        Win the Nobel Prize in Physics.

        1. re: J.L.
          kevin RE: J.L. May 31, 2013 03:15 PM

          Fuuuuuuuckkkkkk !!!!!!

          Sorry. Excuse my French. Just severely, completely, and utterly dismayed over my misfortune of despondent misfortunes.

          1. re: J.L.
            Servorg RE: J.L. May 31, 2013 03:56 PM

            I came upon Schrödinger's cat (named Higgs), badly injured inside a box (that I can only assume fell off of a truck) in the middle of the street and rushed it to the Vet. Grateful for my selfless act he took me to dinner there once...

            1. re: Servorg
              kevin RE: Servorg May 31, 2013 04:02 PM

              Seriously ????


              1. re: kevin
                Servorg RE: kevin May 31, 2013 04:25 PM

                All I can can say is that it involved a DeLorean, some plutonium and a flux capacitor...

                1. re: Servorg
                  PeterCC RE: Servorg May 31, 2013 04:47 PM

                  You gotta upgrade to Mr. Fusion!

              2. re: Servorg
                J.L. RE: Servorg Jun 1, 2013 12:16 AM

                That's scenario just seems so unreal! Or was it real? :-D

            2. re: kevin
              jennymoon RE: kevin May 31, 2013 07:56 PM

              I spent a few months at Caltech as a visitor from another grad school. Groups of graduate students and faculty would occasionally go for lunch. The dinner I had there was for a conference banquet.

              1. re: kevin
                Savour RE: kevin Jun 3, 2013 05:13 PM

                Hang out a lot in Pasadena. There are community members as well as Caltech professors and alumni, and many academics who do research at the Huntington can get a membership.

                The food is very tasty and very reasonable for what it is, but it's not rock your socks off. It's more the experience than anything else. They do make a great Caesar salad. Tableside.

                1. re: kevin
                  Servorg RE: kevin Jun 3, 2013 05:25 PM

                  Kevin, I have an alternative scenario for you. Pick up a copy of "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman (Kindle edition is only $9.57). Then get a sandwich to go from Bay Cities Deli (maybe a nice eggplant parm?) and go sit on a bench in Palisades Park and read your book, laugh, eat and watch the passing parade and the sun go down in the Pacific. You'll feel WAY more satisfied than if you had wrangled a way to eat at The Ath, and I guarantee you'll laugh a whole lot more...

                  1. re: Servorg
                    kevin RE: Servorg Jun 3, 2013 07:29 PM

                    Someone linked this:


                    So now I don't even have to pay for the darn food. You know what that means ?

                    Yes, indeed. More dough for lunch.

                2. re: jennymoon
                  jgilbert1000 RE: jennymoon Jun 3, 2013 10:59 AM

                  I went there once for dinner, around Christmas time and it was fantastic. Not only a very solid meal, but the decorations, not to mention the room itself, were first rate. We were invited by a friend who is an alum and big contributor to the school.

                3. r
                  revets2 RE: kevin May 31, 2013 02:04 PM

                  The Ath is lovely, but not worth pining over. Pretty typical club food, pretty well executed. Not earth shattering.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: revets2
                    suvro RE: revets2 May 31, 2013 04:24 PM


                    I am at Caltech, and my most recent meal was yesterday - for the Service award luncheon - a traditional chicken salad with Mexican flavors, a molten chocolate cake for dessert (my wife had the Berries Athenaeum - the splash of Grand Marnier was quite strong).

                    I also had a lunch the week before to welcome exchange students from India to the campus - the most inventive thing I had was dessert sushi - Cali rolls with a fruit based nori(!), "gari" made from thinly sliced sweetened Asian pears, "soya sauce" made of a chocolate creme, etc.

                    There are some good values - specially the lunch salad bar on Thursdays, since Wednesday's prime rib buffet leftovers are featured - and they are better than on other days. They host a range of special dinners featuring cuisines from different countries - Mexican for May, etc. They also have holiday specials.

                    They do host weddings on weekends for non-Caltech parties, but I think you still need to know a member who can recommend.

                    But the membership price is not worth the food. Their membership have been declining - about 3-4 years ago, the chef's menu was a disaster. I think a new chef has improved the offerings. It is old school, and what my academic friends at other universities (specially the UC system) call "the last bastion of civility"! YMMV.

                    1. re: suvro
                      kevin RE: suvro May 31, 2013 04:29 PM

                      Now I really want to go.

                      But sad to tell, I have no way of getting in.

                      But thanks for the description.

                      1. re: kevin
                        suvro RE: kevin May 31, 2013 04:37 PM

                        How does one send email w/o broadcasting?

                        1. re: suvro
                          kevin RE: suvro May 31, 2013 11:40 PM

                          I don't know.

                          That's a good point. I'll have to recheck the protocol on that.

                          Maybe I can just hang outside the clubhouse and offer a free meal for any takers ?

                  2. j
                    Jack Flash RE: kevin May 31, 2013 04:17 PM

                    Food is much better than you might expect, and they have a very good wine list. The markups aren't outrageous, as they're not looking to turn a profit.

                    The dining room can seem a bit stuffy, but I believe the outdoor patio is now open, which is a very pleasant place to dine. But you need to be invited by a member (we're fortunate to know one).

                    Our last meal there was about a month ago.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Jack Flash
                      kevin RE: Jack Flash May 31, 2013 04:19 PM


                      Now how do I get to know a member for my own very selfish reasons ?????????

                      1. re: kevin
                        The Oracle RE: kevin May 31, 2013 05:18 PM

                        Perhaps a member can do a CH meetup there (for those that don't mind revealing their identity)? Now that would be lovely! I've had the pleasure of dining there on one occasion and Jack Flash's description is spot on. I had been looking into the location for my wedding and I know there are a few connected 'hounds on the board.

                      2. re: Jack Flash
                        YvonneChristine RE: Jack Flash May 31, 2013 04:39 PM

                        I concur. Patio is lovely! The rest is much like a wood paneled library. I have been there with CalTech and JPL staff as well several times while attending short term continuing education courses. I've had lovely salmon with Israeli couscous and asparagus... Twice! And fish-n-chips. Some table mates did not get as lucky but nothing was terrible. Service was pretty good.

                        1. re: YvonneChristine
                          kevin RE: YvonneChristine May 31, 2013 11:42 PM

                          Wait a second. Caltech offers extension courses kind of like USC or ucla does ?

                          1. re: kevin
                            YvonneChristine RE: kevin Jun 1, 2013 07:47 AM

                            Not quite extension. Exec courses,PMI certs, etc.

                      3. y
                        YvonneChristine RE: kevin May 31, 2013 05:23 PM

                        Looks like the athaneum has been in several movies including BH Cop. You're correct. http://www.caltech.edu/content/athena...

                        1. ipsedixit RE: kevin May 31, 2013 08:43 PM

                          The Ath is a bit like the restaurant version of calling one of those telephone porn numbers.

                          That sultry voice sounds so damn hot you figure that the person on the other side has to be equally hot -- physically -- in person.

                          Then, by whatever weird chance, you actually meet the person, reality strikes. A voice for radio for sure. A face too. Unfortunately.

                          The food at the Ath is probably just fine, but because the access is so restricted, you tend to glamorize it more than it deserves.

                          Same can be said for the California Club. Food is fine for what it is -- probably even a little better (good burger, however). But because membership is rather exclusive people tend to romanticize not only the food, but the entire penumberal ambiance of the place.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            kevin RE: ipsedixit May 31, 2013 11:43 PM

                            What are your thoughts about Club 33 in somewhat the same vein ?

                            1. re: kevin
                              ipsedixit RE: kevin Jun 1, 2013 11:21 AM

                              I actually had the pleasure of dining at Club 33 (a colleague of mine is a member).

                              I think Club 33 is a bit different from a place like the Ath or even a club like CC in that you get a really pretty good and well-executed meal in the heart of Disneyland -- plus, the booze just puts it over the top.

                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                kevin RE: ipsedixit Jun 1, 2013 12:34 PM

                                Yea. Club 33 sounds way better from your description. But some have described the food as a decent AYCE buffet food doled out by Mickey Mouse white gloved servers. I couldn't figure out if it was always buffet style.

                            2. re: ipsedixit
                              revets2 RE: ipsedixit Jun 3, 2013 10:25 AM

                              The food at the California Club is much better than the Ath. Perhaps because there is more competition in the immediate area.

                              At both clubs, the catering kitchens are separate from the restaurant kitchens, so you almost have to eval them as separate restaurants. At both the Ath and CC, the restaurant food is always better than the catered food. Wine list better at CC and the CC lobster salad in the summertime rocks.

                              Agree with ipse. As someone who has to eat at both places on a regular basis, I find myself wanting to eat better food for the same QPR.

                              Never, ever had a good meal at Club 33. Overrated IMHO.

                              1. re: revets2
                                ipsedixit RE: revets2 Jun 3, 2013 10:28 AM

                                We should do lunch sometime at the CC.

                                It's on me. :-)

                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  revets2 RE: ipsedixit Jun 3, 2013 02:29 PM

                                  Okay, fine. I'll pick up the juice. ;-)

                            3. SauceSupreme RE: kevin Jun 2, 2013 12:52 AM

                              I've been debating getting a membership (I'm eligible as an alum) but really I enjoy the Rathskeller more than the Ath itself.

                              As mentioned in previous replies, the food is much better than you might expect, but it's still far short of revelatory. It's comfortable and despite the confines of the dining room, I think the food at the Ath is appropriate for its members. You may read into that however you like.

                              15 Replies
                              1. re: SauceSupreme
                                J.L. RE: SauceSupreme Jun 2, 2013 01:24 AM

                                Pie N Burger seems more popular with Techers than the Ath...

                                1. re: J.L.
                                  SauceSupreme RE: J.L. Jun 2, 2013 01:31 AM

                                  On an unrelated note, back when I was a student we used to go to this Thai place across from PCC all the time (before Saladang and Saladang Song opened). Years later I finally decided to visit it again, this time through a CH-lens and I was pretty mortified. Luckily, Saladang (and Song) are both still excellent.

                                  1. re: SauceSupreme
                                    paulj RE: SauceSupreme Jun 3, 2013 05:23 PM

                                    I thought Big Boy on Colorado Blvd was the place to go. Isn't that where Feynman went to relax? My budget was more for a sandwich shop on Colorado, one that named its sandwiches after famous people. I don't remember any students pining to eat at the Ath. ('72).

                                    1. re: paulj
                                      FallingLeaves RE: paulj Jun 3, 2013 05:48 PM

                                      Feyman typically enjoys some suds while he appreciates the natural beauty of naked dancing female models at one of the local gentleman bars near "old town" Pasadena for lunch. Feyman even petitioned the City not to close down those facilities as part of the gentrification of 'old/down-town' Pasadena.

                                      1. re: FallingLeaves
                                        J.L. RE: FallingLeaves Jun 3, 2013 05:50 PM

                                        Surely you're joking, FallingLeaves...

                                        1. re: J.L.
                                          FallingLeaves RE: J.L. Jun 3, 2013 06:26 PM

                                          Autobiography aside. Feyman loved to paint. Feyman painted his 'Feyman diagram' on his van.
                                          A female friend of mine who briefly worked as a secretary for Feyman was proud to have posted as a nude model for one the his paintings.

                                          1. re: FallingLeaves
                                            kevin RE: FallingLeaves Jun 3, 2013 06:29 PM

                                            I don't take it that he's still around ?

                                            1. re: kevin
                                              J.L. RE: kevin Jun 3, 2013 06:47 PM

                                              A simple search (yes, I reiterate - very simple search) yields...


                                              1. re: J.L.
                                                kevin RE: J.L. Jun 3, 2013 06:50 PM

                                                Oh, this the guy that alan alda portrayed in a play at the Geffen playhouse a few years back, though I did miss the performances.

                                                1. re: kevin
                                                  J.L. RE: kevin Jun 3, 2013 07:17 PM

                                                  Um, I guess so...

                                                  But you know, I do recall he may be just a bit better known for his role in this little thing called the Manhattan Project, and also for the fact that he was one of the greatest theoretical physicists of the 20th Century...

                                                  Just an eentsy beensty bit...

                                            2. re: FallingLeaves
                                              paulj RE: FallingLeaves Jun 3, 2013 07:18 PM


                                              search this for 'restaurant'. Only one mention of the Ath.

                                              1. re: paulj
                                                kevin RE: paulj Jun 3, 2013 07:28 PM


                                                Is that a link to the entire book ?


                                                very cool.

                                                Now I can save the extra 9 bucks and spend it on more to eat for lunch.

                                  2. re: SauceSupreme
                                    revets2 RE: SauceSupreme Jun 3, 2013 10:36 AM

                                    If you are eligible for Ath membership, the club, in the past, has offered 30-day trial memberships if sponsored by another member in good standing, usually only in the summer months.

                                    We're passionate about Southeast Asian food and cook and eat it quite often. We think both Saladangs are barely passable. Last meal there, I had to retrieve my pocket-sized bottle of Red Boat in the glove compartment to make the meal edible.

                                    1. re: revets2
                                      kevin RE: revets2 Jun 3, 2013 03:56 PM

                                      A true hound with the requisite bottle of red boat in the old glove compartment. very nice.

                                      1. re: revets2
                                        kevin RE: revets2 Jun 3, 2013 03:57 PM


                                        now i need to find a member in good standing.

                                    2. m
                                      maryhbrock RE: kevin Jun 3, 2013 06:10 PM

                                      As a local, with friends who belong, I consider this an "event" place, rather than a drop by for dinner place. My wedding reception was held here, for 450 guests, and everything was lovely and first rate. Service is outstanding. The club is old-world beautiful, and the courtyard with white lights in the trees can be magical. I also held a large baby shower here for my sister in law. One of the charming things about hosting an ladies event here, is that the staff will use mis-matched china from the many beautiful and delicate sets that have been donated over the years. It is a treat to be invited and attend an event here, but I have never considered it a restaurant.

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