The Kitchen for Exploring Foods gets mentioned a lot in responses to posts asking about caterers, but –-surprise! –-they serve lunch as well. OK, “serve” is kind of an exaggeration. They have lunch, in the form of a salad bar–type setup. You can get it, and then you can eat it, there, on one of their two tables, or somewhere else.

But it’s not just any old salad bar food. Everything is fresh and tasty—good, seasonal food prepared properly and seasoned just enough to highlight its natural flavors without overpowering anything. There’s no one-flavoring-fits-all, either –-each dish tastes different from the next.

Asparagus is perfectly roasted and smoky, and the slightly tangy sun-dried tomatoes and pungent cheese is just strong enough to stand up to the smoke without overpowering it; couscous is fluffy and moist with a hint of garlic; white beans are cold and smooth with the fresh kick of raw onions; and beets are wonderfully sweet and completely infused with a vinegary dressing.

It’s not just salads, either: Stuffed pork loin with apple stuffing is marinated all the way through, and a little sweet and crispy on the edges. The stuffing is moist, infused with rosemary and onion. Flank steak with chimichurri sauce is a favorite, adds Clare K; judge dee likes the crab bisque and potato salad.

Just a mile or so west of Old Town Pasadena on Colorado, the Kitchen is a world away: There’s plenty of parking, no long lines, and the food is fantastic.

The Kitchen for Exploring Foods [Pasadena]
1434 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

Board Links: California cuisine at the salad bar

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