In a never ending search for a seafood, without paying Watergrill $$, and dreaming of Tadich, etc in San Francisco, we made the mistake of dining at Delmonicos in Pasadena last night. I am posting in the hope of saving others from this fate, even though it exposes me to many many deserved"what did you expect"s.
All I knew was that Delmonicos has been around in it's Pico Blvd location for years. I guess I was expecting something better than Red Lobster, maybe like McCormick and S. but more old school.The location in Pasadena is new, and turned out to be in the Pasadena Plaza, right next door to the now closed Border Grill. Also as we approached the location from Colorado Blvd, we noted that the large neon Delmonicos sign was turned off, or broken, should have immediately known a restaurant that would forget to turn on, or not repair their signage might have some management problems.
We were all a bit put off by the "mall" atmosphere, and considered going elsewhere but were all hungry and so decided to stay. The interior is clubby darkwood, linens, well lit, and though about 30% of tables were full, there were lots of servers and what looked like 4 hostesses and a manager purposefully striding around looking very efficient.
We were seated and given menus. Our waiter was EXTREMELY animated, which was annoying by itself but would not have been a problem if the food hadn't been so terrible. The menus were cheaply printed glossy cardboard, what one might expect at a Dennys, and they were very well worn to boot. The fish choices were pretty limited, really for a "Seafood" restaurant. Between the 4 of us we ordered a chilean seabass, an ahi, a petrale sole and a special filet with blue cheese wrapped in bacon. Our starters were chowder, 2 lobster bisque and a small caesar. So I think we had a broad enough range of items to get a good idea. Chowder and bisque were nothing special, my bisque had two notably tasteless blobs of slipper lobster meat, yuck.
Of the entrees, my petrale sole was presented as a pile of broken up filet pieces, with a nasty salty sauce that appeared to be whole grain mustard and chopped capers, very salty. I scrapped it off and the fish itself was dry and flavorless, with an overcooked, overbuttered to mush mound of juilienned vegies. The seabass was more attractively plated, and got an OK from my friend, but he passed on the brilliantly green "garlic" mashed potatoes..very gummy. The ahi was a nice piece of fish, but arrived well done when it was requested rare. The worst was the filet, just nasty and chewy, my friend commented that she had a better filet at the Black Angus in Fresno on a business trip last week. Of all our plates, three had more that half the food remaining when we asked them to be removed. At some point in the meal a manager type rushed by our table and asked if we were enjoying our meals, but didnt stop long enough to catch our response!
We ordered desserts and coffee, the coffee came, served with milk. We requested half and half and the waiter responded, I'll see if I can "dig some up", and we waited and waited. The deserts came, and one of the apple tarts ordered with carmel pecan ice cream, came with vanilla any ways with three little pecans placed on top the ice cream. When we mentioned it to the waiter, he responded conspiratorially, "that's not surprising theres a bit of a language barrier in the kitchen" but didnt offer to change it. And finally, when he came by with the little pitcher of half and half but before placing it down observed"theres a little fellow swimming around in there, I'll find you another" at which point we just said, that's OK we're really done with our coffee anyways......
On the drive home my friend called the manager and explained her dissatisfaction. His response was...sorry you didn't enjoy your meal... and something about how all the locations have different owners and therefore the management is different or some other strange explaination but no real remedy or offer to compensate or make amends. My advice to all is avoid this place like the plague, and save up for Water Grill or a trip to San Francisco, a city where you can still find decent seafood.
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