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May 31, 2013 12:03 PM

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

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. Athenaeum

    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

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

      1. re: kevin

        Win the Nobel Prize in Physics.

        1. re: J.L.

          Fuuuuuuuckkkkkk !!!!!!

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

          1. re: J.L.

            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: kevin

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

                1. re: Servorg

                  You gotta upgrade to Mr. Fusion!

              2. re: Servorg

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

            1. re: kevin

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

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

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: revets2


                    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

                      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

                        How does one send email w/o broadcasting?

                        1. re: suvro

                          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. 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


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

                      1. re: kevin

                        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

                        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

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

                      3. Looks like the athaneum has been in several movies including BH Cop. You're correct.

                        1. 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

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

                            1. re: kevin

                              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

                                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

                              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

                                We should do lunch sometime at the CC.

                                It's on me. :-)

                                1. re: ipsedixit

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