OK, I have read the S. Irene review, been bumped from an anniversary reservation by the execrable Elmer Dills having set up his cameras at my reserved table (they did give me a free bottle of wine at Parkway across the lot - can you say I want a $150 bottle? - I did), been charged $18 for a glass of what I thought was a house wine, been unceremoniously crammed into a corner on the piano player's lap, and had forgettable experiences at several corporate functions there.
But when this place is on, it is unbeatable.
At one of my kids' insistence, and against my better judgment, we had a birthday there last week (no, we didn't announce it to the staff).
Requested table was available with no wait - others were kept waiting - warms my compulsive heart.
Waiter was obviously very busy but never seemed rushed. Drinks are somewhere between doubles and triples for ~$8.00 - not for everyone, but appeals to a guzzler like me.
Birthday son (17) innocently knocked over my drink and was absolutely mortified. Waiter didn't miss a beat - said it usually happens 3 of 4 times an hour and unobtrusively placed two napkins on the spill and one under the tablecloth and magically appeared with a replacemnet (bigger than the original). Son was more than impressed. I was even more impressed than that.
Lots of rip you off games - bottled water, charged for garlic bread, but for veterans these are minor distrations.
There are a few reasonable wines for less than $60 but there are no bargains.
When the steaks are on, they are spectacular. Aged New York is not as good as the Kansas City New York - bone in. Both came out perfectly prepared and as good as anything at Mastro's - each bite a tender, flavorful prime cut joy. Clearly better than Ruth's and slightly more flavorful and less fibrous than the sirloins at Arnie Morton's. OK, Dakota may be a little more tender, but not much. Forget Nick and Steph's - maybe a little more livery if you like that sort of thing, but I don't.
Sides are variable but some are exemplary - roasted corn is spectacular; scalloped patatoes are topped with cheese and baked (roasted?) to perfection. Green beans have cayenne and are distracting. Garlic mashed are a little too creamy for me. Baked isn't worth it.
Seafood (Ahi and crab legs) is as always unexpectedly well prepared and of very high quality.
Souffles are a novelty but not really worth ordering. Apple pie is enough for four and includes ice cream if you ask - lots of cinnamon.
Service maintained the highest standards this time, which contrary to many hounds, is an extremely important component to me when the price surpasses $50 per person.
Final cost with lots of booze was $65 per.
One of the great evenings to be had in Pasadena or, for steak lovers, in the entire basin.
This place can be irregular. We have had poor reservation honoring, mediocre service, and very mediocre meat preparations (but never less than great seafood). Well worth a try when you want something special and don't want to deal with the Mastro's crowds/noise and the overpriced Ruth's/Morton's experiences.