Started out by going to Futami in Monrovia on Friday night for Mom's b-day. As usual, everything was exceptional especially the yellowtail collar. I realize you don't do much to this savory dish but somehow Futami's is always extra-meaty and melt-in-your-mouth. Other notables included the stuffed jalapeno (giant jalapeno pepper stuffed with ground salmon and spices, dipped in tempura batter, deep fried and sprinkled with ponzu), unagi (nice and crispy), the octupus sashimi (thin slice of boiled and cooled octupus with a sprinkling of yuzu juice and cayenne pepper- you must try this) and the mackerel.
Saturday night we took our maiden voyage to Cicada. Beautiful design and quiet interior. Bread basket was varied and fun, food was good but I think I just misordered. I'm usually one to order items with many ingredients, so I decided to take the simple route and order salad and steak. My Cicada house salad of butter lettuce, brioche croutons and a creamy herb dressing was good, nothing spectacular but hey- it's a salad. The filet mignon w/ foie gras and baked apple slice in wine sauce was also good....the filet was so thick that it was almost awkward to eat. The tiny pieces of seared foie gras were perfect little nuggets of utter richness, but overall the dish was quite ordinary...all laid in a bowl of green beans/snow peas/carrots. Husband scored on his grilled calamari steak which was perfectly tender and flavored with just a touch of olive oil, lemon and pepper. The accompanying salad of baby arugula and tomatoes was also out of this world. His main course, Portabello mushroom ravioli with yellow and red tomato coulis, was flavorful and inventive. The ravioli was perfectly al dente (in my experience a lot ravioli tends to be overcooked). We washed it down with a bottle of pino noir and decided to split an order of crab cakes for dessert since we weren't feeling the sweet thing. Said crab cake was excellent, and although we both got a few shells, a nice end to a nice evening. I guess I expected to be blown away.......which almost never happens when I am expecting it.
But it happened at brunch the very next day. After walking around Pasadena for an hour trying to decide where to go, we decided to try our old comfort zone, Cafe Bizou, for brunch (having only been there for dinner). I realize it isn't ultra gourmet but man- I've been more than satisfied on every single visit and this time was no different. I started with the $1 salad, then mowed into my eggs benedict w/ smoked salmon. Perfectly poached eggs that retained their heat without losing any of the runny yellow, perched on 2 thick english muffins covered in smoked salmon and a lemony, fresh hollandaise. Husband had the $1 fruit plate, then ordered the fruit pancakes (you can choose which fruit you want). Hub went for banana, and I can honestly say they were the best dang pancakes I've ever had, and I'm not even the biggest banana fan. The rounds of banana were cooked right into the light, fluffy pancakes which had a similar flavor to Campanile's sourdough pancakes, but larger in size. The banana rounds browned when the pancakes were cooking and developed a semi-carmelized texture...the whole dish was fragrant with bananas while the flavor of the batter stood up to the fruit and it was EXCELLENT. I think I've already developed a craving after two bites. By far the most pleasant surprise of the weekend.
That evening we ended up at Z's and asked for the omakase. We just started doing that a few weeks ago and it has been a wonderful experience. Toshi started us off with the Blue fin tuna sushi, which was startlingly red and very fresh. We then went through a perfectly seared piece of yellowtail, some baby octupus, sea urchin, tiny deep fried crabs the size of a thumb, baked sole stuffed with shrimp surrounded by a lobster sauce, toro chopped with green onions and a dab of soy sauce tucked into nori cups, two pieces of smooth, buttery salmon sushi w/ a thin slice of pickled seaweed on top, and a few more items I can't recall at this moment. Total bill was $68.00, no alcohol (nursed on green tea due to a slight hangover).
So, overall a very chowish weekend. Gotta hit the treadmill now.