So my wife and I were lucky enough to have dinner at AKA Bistro in old town Pasadena. Normally I am not a huge fan of old town food, but this was a hugely pleasant surprise. Before I go on, I have to mention we ate a 6 course chef's tasting menu, which may or may not be available normally. We plan to go back soon to compare and contrast with their normal fair. The chef (I apologize for forgetting his name) is a recent transplant from Napa, and the food definitely had that farm to table feel to it. I love that style, so it has a lot to do with my enjoying this meal so much.
The first course was warm wild mushrooms with a sixty degree egg yoke. We stirred the egg yoke in with the mushrooms and the creaminess of the egg-yoke played off well with the earthiness of the mushrooms. I have seen this dish served with asparagus, but not mushrooms. It was a great start to the night.
The second course was fresh pasta with a smokey tomato sauce and fresh asparagus and squash. I am not generally a huge pasta fan, but the smokey tomato sauce worked great with the dish. my only complaint was the plating was poor and my dish had no vegetables. Luckily my wife shared with me ;)
The third course was a raw tuna dish. It was served with avocado and deep fried sea-weed (I forget the name of the sushi wrapper stuff, but that was it). The crispy texture of the sea-weed played off well with some really fresh tuna and the creamy avocado. My wife normally does not like fish, but she ate most of hers.
The fourth course was a raw beef dish with mustard seed. I think this was our least favorite dish of the evening. The meet was beautiful, but I thought the mustard overwhelmed the beef. My wife really liked this dish, but she was in the minority.
The main course was a perfectly rare piece of meet (I didn't hear the cut) served with a red-wine reduction, thick bacon chunks that were cured in house, a mild chili that gave a nice texture but didn't overwhelm the flavor and some earthy baby potatoes.
Two deserts were served. One was a butterscotch pot de creme. I can't say a lot about that because my wife didn't share more than a bite with me. The other was some fabulous vanilla ice cream with something on the side (I am blanking), but the icecream was tremendously rich and had a strong vanilla flavor. It might have been too rich if served alone, but it worked.
We are SGV folks and our normal favorite place is Palate in Glendate. I think AKA Bistro holds up very well by comparison. One last caveat. We were doing a wine tasting and we had quite a bit, so the end of the meal is fuzzier than the start ;) I know we will go back, and I suggest you give this a try.
41 Hugus Alley
Pasadena, CA 91105